Similar juxtapositions of traditional (in both patriarchal and Asian cultural influences) elements with emerging values, sensibilities, and desires exist in Fire. Mehtas film centers on the growing self-direction and self-realization of a middle-aged woman in a traditional Hindu marriage. Her attraction and budding relationship with another newly wed bride is in many ways the catalyst for the actions and the investigations that occur in the film, but the same-sex attraction is truly secondary to the issue of self-direction and an assertion of feminine identity. This is shown to be an extreme conflict with the traditional values of the Hindu culture, yet at the same time these traditional values are seen to be in a state of complete erosion and emptiness through the treatment of the grandmother character and even the treatment of the central character by her husband.
The female and the elderly are essentially treated as non-persons or purely as functionaries with the manner of degradation that traditional patriarchal Hindu values have come to, and an assertion of self-identity by women — while decidedly “Western” and forbidden — does not necessarily compromise the integrity of the true depth and import of certain of these values. That is, Mehta shows that the rejection of certain patriarchal constructs is actually in keeping with certain Hindi values.
Both of these texts demonstrate an independence in sexuality and femininity emerging precisely form the conflict between Asian and Euro-American values. In some manner, this conflict seems to actually serve as a point of liberation for the women in the film.
Goto, Hiromi. Chorus of Mushrooms. Edmonton: NeWest Press, 1994.
Mehta, Deepa. Fire. Zeitgeist.