The first film in Deepa MEHTA′s ′Elements′ trilogy, Fire is a groundbreaking film that tackles the issues of women’s desire and lesbian sexuality in India at the turn of the new millennium. Bollywood’s veteran star Shabana AZMI and Nandita DAS, who rose to fame through this film, take on the roles of the two protagonists from middle-class Hindu families in Delhi, who pave their own paths of pleasure, desire, and fantasy in patriarchal, heterosexual environment and finally break free from this world.Newly married Sita (Nandita DAS) comes to live with her husband’s big family and falls in love with her brother-in-law’s wife, Rahda (Shabana AZMI). The interesting point in this film is that a queer Asian woman’s desire appears in a perfectly heterosexual structure of a family and subverts it. The family picnic scene, where Rahda and Sita massages each other’s feet, is representative of how this film changes the cinematic structure of heterosexuality into a moment of queer eroticism. (HONG So-in)
Deepa MEHTA started her career in the 1970s. Her emotionally resonating, award-winning films have played at many major film festival around the world. Her films include the Elemental Trilogy: Earth, Fire, Water, the final film of which received an Oscar nomination for the Best Foreign Language film. Her work challenges traditions and stereotypes and is always daring, fearless and provocative. Mehta recently shot the pilot and second episode for the Netflix Original series, Leila, and is the Creative Executive Producer for the show. She also directed Kabir, an episode of Little America for Apple TV.