A ‘Must-See’ Film: Fire

As we near the end of our current “Sex and Politics” theme week, I thought this would be a fabulous time to give you all a heads-up about an interesting film I just finished analyzing for a gender studies class.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

This 1996 film, Fire (directed and written by Deepha Mehta) takes place in contemporary Delhi, India and stirred up quite the controversy upon its release.

About the Film

(As stated above) the film Fire is set in Delhi, India and brings you into the household of a joint family. The plot tells the story of how two neglected Indian wives (Sita and Radha) become lovers. As Sita deals with her husband’s infidelity and Radha battles with the frustrations of celibacy, the two women find solace in one another.

Obviously I don’t want to give away the juicy parts of the movie, but the plot definitely thickens when certain members within the house become suspicious of Sita and Radha’s growing relationship.


Although the film was produced in 1996, it was not shown in India until November of 2008 (after being passed by the India’s Central Board of Film Certification back in May of 2008).

Following the release of the film, there were highly mixed emotions in response to the overall message portrayed in Fire. Due to the topic of lesbianism being foreign to their culture, some were extemely offended by certain scenes within the film.

Outbreaks of violence and vandalism began occurring near the beginning of December (2008). At some theatres – audiences were even driven away by the burning of movie posters and angry mobs chanting outside.

Then again, in retaliation to the negative responses, numerous protests and petitions began making their way throughout India – all fighting for the freedom of right to expression.


After the unit over Fire was completed in my gender studies class, it made me feel very grateful to live in a society (that is at least working on) accepting the sexuality of its’ citizens. Although the United States has a long way to go until things are consider ‘equal’ – watching films such as Fire and spreading awareness on the importance of sexual expression is the only way in which things will ever change.

If you ever get the chance, check out the film! It will definitely enhance your perception as well as outlook on culture and sexuality.

MSP is taking a closer look at sex and politics this month.

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About Madeline Haller

Madeline Haller

Madeline Haller is an Assistant Editor for MensHealth.com. Haller received her bachelor's degree in journalism from Indiana University, with a second concentration in gender studies. When she's not writing for MSP/MH, you can find her running, enjoying a cup of coffee, or searching for the perfect shade of red lipstick.

  • Kate

    I saw this movie in 2009 but I didn’t realize it incited so much controversy (not to say that it’s surprising). I really enjoyed the movie and I’m pleased to see you did as well:)