“FIRE” -----The Revisions of Traditions • Amber, Cathy, Enga, Grace, Wendy, Tiffany and Æon
Introduction • Deepa Mehta • Fire • The controversy • How Mehta sees the film • Themes in Fire
Born in Amritsar, India in 1949 Major Philosophy in the University of New Delhi Married Paul Saltzman 4. Her father was a film distributor and theater owner Deepa Mehta
5. ”By the time I was in university I knew I wanted to have nothing to do with film.” 6. Canadian or Indian?
What Mehta wants to show in her film? • Challenge blind tradition in India • Break the stereotypes of India: a. The exotic India b. Mysticism
FIRE 1.1996 Toronto International Film Festival 2.New York Film Festival. 3.Vancouver International Film Festival 4.Chicago International Film Festival 5.Paris
FUSS • Shiv Sainiks: the movie isn’t worth watching • “ I am going to shoot you, Madam.” • Controversy
How Mehta sees the film - "For me Fire is about... fighting tradition when oppressed. My favorite dialogue in the film is when Sita tells her sister-in-law Radha that the concept of duty is over-rated." - "The film is about desire and control and the choices we make in life. And it's about India. That is why I have used the colours of the Indian flag throughout the movie."
“I didn't make the film to do a thesis on lesbianism -- I am not interested in those things. It is a film about loneliness. It is a film about the hypocrisy of our society today. It is a film about how women don't have choices in a patriarchal set-up.” - Tradition and Revision
Family Tree Biji Mundu + + Traditional figures in the Family: Biji— voiceless, but possesses the great power over the family. Ashok— patriarchal in sexuality and believes through celibacy, he can be close to god. Jatin—not able to break through tradition, but makes Sita as a victim of it. Radha—traditional wife in the family as well before the arrival of Sita. Ashok Radha Sita Jatin
Dysfunction of the Family Biji—is wizened, mute, helpless, carefully dressed and powered each day. —carries around the room with a ridiculous little bell in her hand to indicate distress or need. • Biji Mundu: Biji couldn’t show her feeling toward Mundu’s selfish behavior. • Biji Radha & Sita: Biji knows nothing about their relationship.
Ashok—has responsibility to carry on the family, but very patriarchal in sexuality. Ashok Jatin: Ashok asks Jatin to do his duty as a husband. Ashok Radha: They never communicate in sex. Ashok celibates and oppresses the sexual desire of Radha. Only took having sex with Radha as her duty.
Jatin—victimized by tradition but also selfishly does the harm to Sita. • Jatin Sita: No love exists between them. : arranged marriage involved no love between he and Sita. Sita was also sacrificed in the relationship. : considered Sita as only a child-making machine. • Jatin Julie: Love and excitement make them together.
Places in the Family • Jatin’s room --posters on the wall show the personality of Jatin --place for Sita release herself • Kitchen -- also a place Sita and Radha communicate their love. • Balcony
Sita’s Influence on Radha ~by Grace Liu
Sita’s anti-traditional charactersRadha’s changingBoth women find a way out.
Sita’s Inner Self-- Anti-traditional • Open / Out-going ex: Sita wears Jatin’s pants and dances with pop music. • Active in starting a relationship with Radha ex: Sita kisses Radha actively.
Believe women is not subordinate to men ex: Sita’s view toward the queen in the mythology and women’s devotion-- women should find a way out instead of lacking choices
Fight for her dignity instead of being mild ex: Sita calls Jatin a fool and slaps him on his face.
Sita’s Outside Behaviors--Traditional Play a role well as a WIFE
Sita’s Influence on Radha • Anti-traditional way of thinking as a WOMAN • Women should not be subordinate to men. • Women and men are equal.
Sita’s Influences • Sita kisses Radha actively. • Radha rinses Sita’s hair with oil. => intimacy • Sita expresses her opinion toward the queen in the mythology, which changes Radha’s traditional opinion.
Radha’s Changes • Radha refuses to feed Bigi, and ask Ashok to do. • Both Sita and Radha refuse to make love to their own husbands. • Sita and Radha dress up well, and dance with pop music. • Radha refuses to make love to Ashok.
Background • Migration to India, Calcutta • 1949 – Communist victory • landowners, merchants and intellectuals • Sino-Indian War • Caste System • Economy (source)
Revised Tradition • Ashok and Jatin’s conversation
Dinner Scene • Julie’s father’s attitude • Julie playing many roles • Jatin’s response
Symbols: Taj Maha Sea Balcony Fire
Taj Maha: • The symbol of eternal love • Sita’s expectation toward marriage
Sea/ocean • If you can’t see, don’t be sad, you can just to see without looking • Hope and happiness
Balcony • An escape from reality • Get touch with the living world • Place to share and communicate
Fire • The title of the film • Human desire • Trails of fire
Mythological Background (1) Ramayana The Hindu epic: “Ramayana”– a saga Rama – the avatar (the seventh incarnation of Vishnu) Sita, wife of Rama, is doubted by Rama of her loyalty and undergoes “agnipariksha” (fire ordeal) to prove her chastity.
The Representations of the “Agnipariksha” The representation of Sita's Trial by Fire (from Ramayana) is being reproduced and emphasized by different means – the folk play, the telecast, and the poster of the restaurant
Mythological Background (2)Immortal Love Legend of Radha - Krishna • Krishna –the eighth incarnation of Vishnu – symbolizes the soul’s intense longing and willingness for the ultimate unification with God • Radha – Krishna’s mistress; a typical figure whose waiting for Krishna is well-known and worshiped. • Radha-Krishna – a perfect union of feminine and masculine
Revision of the Hindu mythology • Sita and Radha (two Hindu goddesses) become “lovers” • Radha undergoes the fire trial in the end of the film.
Traditional Practice Fast Ritual of the family: still emphasizes on “a model of loyal wife to her husband.” Mundu’s revision of this legend in his fantasy Sita and Radha’s revision pf the legend in reality
Color and Frames Contrast to the display of the color Parallel between the display of the frame
Color : Radha A Transition (blank) from night to day Radha is also transitional from a passive wife to an active lover
Colors : Radha & Sita Passionate and warm colours: the quality of fire
Conclusion The women’s relationship represents modern India itself. Radha is tradition-bound and just waiting to blossom…Sita is modern India, desiring independence over tradition (Beyond Bollywood 162). Fire is the revision of tradition on the aspects of the awareness of women, the invasion of western culture and divine story.
Change from Western Culture I. India is a tight community, but Julie’s father remains proud and tough as a foreigner in the solid community. (clip) II. Julie wants to have American-accented English and she wants to travel to Hong Kong.
III. Social privilege of India women has transferred - Indian middle-class women do not only consume western products but also westernization A.. Sita dances in male costume a. Sita dances along the music in the room (clip) 1.. Wearing pants as a way of modern liberating 2.. The combination of masculinity and femininity b. Sita dances with Radha in the living room (clip) 1. The combination of traditional vamp and married women B. Indian women’s desire to break trough tradition and the servant’s (Mundu ) incapability of changing (clip)
Sita and Radha manage to find break through tradition strain by finding consolation from each other I. The role of family used to provide responsibility. Fire has given it another function, desire. II.Fire is different from lesbian movies because the relationship develops from domestic work III. Sita becomes more independent through the relationship between her and Radha (Clip)
Fire adopts the original divine and make adaptation • I. The switch of roles of Radha and Sita--- Radha, instead of Sita, goes through the trial of fire II. Radha is proved innocent to Ashok
Works Cited • Chinese in India • http://huaren.org/diaspora/asia/india/0593-01.html • Sino-Indian War • http://www.onwar.com/aced/nation/ink/india/findiachina1962.htm • Desai, Jigna. Beyond Bollywood: The Cultural Politics of South Asian Diasporic Film New York: Routledge, 2004. • Ramayana -- http://www.maxwell.syr.edu/maxpages/special/ramayana/ -- http://www.ramayana.com/ • Radha-Krishna -- http://www.dollsofindia.com/radhakrishna.htm • Woman of vision -- http://www.hinduismtoday.com/archives/1998/11/1998-11-16.shtml • Fire -- http://www.indiastar.com/closepet4.html -- http://www.wsws.org/articles/2000/may2000/fire-m02_prn.shtml