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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

This week at the SFC: Fire

Thursday March 9th

STUDIOFILMCLUB is pleased to be back and running after a three week break.

FIRE (Deepa Mehta/India-Canada/1998/108')

Sita and Radha are young Indian women whose husbands choose celibacy or mistresses over their wives. The two women become friends and grow closer together, forming a forbidden but liberating relationship. A lush, passionate story of emancipation and love, in a closed society. Major controversy led this movie to be widely attacked and banned in India.


I am a victim so to speak, of a post-colonized India. The medium of my education was English. In fact, not unlike many children of middle-class parents, English was my first language and Hindi, my second. I wrote the script of FIRE in English, a language I am totally at ease with. The difference is in the "kind" of English. In India, we do not speak "pukka" English. We've made the language our own. It's totally colloquial and has many phrases that are distinctly Indian. We call this happy amalgamation "Hinglish". I thought about translating FIRE into Hindi, but more for Western audiences than the Indian one. Western audiences find a "foreign" film easier to imbibe, easier to accept in its cultural context, if it is in its indigenous language. "A foreign film can only be a foreign film if it is in a foreign language". And if it isn't then somehow it is judged (albeit subconsciously), as a Western film disguised as a foreign one. All very complex but true to a large extent. Well, how to explain to people in the West that most middle-class Indians speak Hinglish? Eventually, I decided to go for the authenticity of spirit of FIRE rather than peoples expectations of what a foreign film constitutes.


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