Fire (1996 film)


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Lesbianism had been there from the time immemorial. The middle age history tells that the term Lesbian came from the Greek island Lesbos. The island is still called Lesbos in the maps. According to some legends, the island Lesbos was used to outcast the bad women. There was not a single man in the island and obviously, women started having sex with each other. Hence the gay women were called lesbians, the inhabitants of Lesbo.

“The word lesbian is derived from the name of the Greek island of Lesbos, home to the 6th-century BCE poet Sappho. From various ancient writings, historians gathered that a group of young women were left in Sappho’s charge for their instruction or cultural edification. Little of Sappho’s poetry survives, but her remaining poetry reflects the topics she wrote about: women’s daily lives, their relationships, and rituals. She focused on the beauty of women and proclaimed her love for girls. Before the late 19th century, the word lesbian referred to any derivative or aspect of Lesbos, including a type of wine. More at http://www.pravdareport.com/society/sex/24-08-2007/96325-lesbian-0/)”

Lesbo island

Lesbo island

Many people raise eyebrows when the word lesbianism is mentioned but I think it is the most beautiful thing that can happen between two women. (Hearing about gay relationships between two men makes me vomit though. Even the very thought of it is disgusting for me.)

Fire, directed by Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta was the first Indian mainstream movie about lesbianism. The film is loosely based on Ismat Chughtai’s 1942 story, Lihaaf (The Quilt) (The 2004 Bollywood movie Girlfriend was also on the same theme but I haven’t watched it. Prima facie it looks more of a cheap commercial movie hence I did not take the trouble of watching it.)

As expected, there was a big protest against the movie when it was released to theaters in India. The protesters went up to attacking and setting fire to the theaters that showed the movie. Most of the opposition came from the rightwing Hindu fronts like Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP.)

Radha (Shabana Azmi) is married to Ashok (Kulbhushan Kharbanda,) a man who is dedicated to temple than to bed. Their marriage is devoid of marital bliss and excitement. Radha is disappointed and dejected in her sexless marriage. To make things worse, Radha is infertile. Ashok tries to submerge his worldly desires and has not slept with Radha for the past thirteen years!!! Ashok forces his younger brother Jatin (Javed Jaffrey) to marry a girl proposed to him, Sita (Nandita Das) but his heart is elsewhere with a Chinese-Indian coquette. Jatin continues to date her even after his marriage t Sita. Thus, new bride’s sex with her husband is limited to one off chance of being deflowered by Jatin at the honeymoon night. Even that at that one time he behaves like a moron who does not enjoy taking the beautiful bride’s virginity.

Ashok and Jatin run a small business that sells food and rents videotapes. Biji, Ashok’s mother is immobile and speechless after a stroke.  Sita and Radha have to attend to Biji. Mundu, the family servant is loyal to the family but his only pastime is masturbating while watching sex videos on TV, while Ashok’s paralyzed mother Biji is disgusted by the servant’s actions but she is unable to protest as she cannot talk or get up from the bed due to her old age.

Now let us get back to the two daughters-in-law of the old mother. In the meantime the two daughters – in – law Radha and Sita who are deprived of sex with men become the best of friends. Radha is very caring for Sita and the latter reciprocates positively. One day, all of a sudden, Sita kisses Radha. Radha is flabbergasted but does not protest. This makes Sita going the distance to become fully fledged lesbian lovers. There is one topless scene of the two women and it has been beautifully filmed. The rest my readers, I will leave you to watch the film and see.

P. S.

I personally missed the chance of meeting Nandita Das as we both were awarded the same fellowship from the World Economic Forum but I was denied this at the eleventh hour. (Well, that is another story.)

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Circumstance (2011 film)


Circumstance DVD Cover

Circumstance DVD Cover

Nanda Wanninayaka March 5, 2016.

Circumstance is a dramatic film written and directed by Maryam Keshavarz in 2011. Its main cast is done by Nikohl BoosheriSarah Kazemy, and Reza Sixo Safai. It focuses its scope into lesbianism in modern Iran and other cultural restrictions.

The movie shows unseen and unexpected lifestyles of the youth in modern day Iran. In the movie, two girls, Atafeh (Nikohl Boosheri,) a daughter of a rich and respected family and orphaned Shireen (Sarah Kazemy) discover themselves are in a lesbian relationship, which is condemned and banned by post-revolutionary Iran. Atafeh’s elder brother, Mehran (Reza Sixo Safai) is obsessed with drugs but later becomes increasingly obsessed with Islam and becomes very conservative and old fashioned in his religious beliefs.

Both Atafeh and Shireen find time to go out and have fun in secluded areas and in illicit discotheques. They also experiment with sex, drinking and drugs. One day they are caught by the Cultural Police in Iran and arrested. They are taken to the police station and treated with cruelty. In the investigation to the girls’ behavior, even their virginity is checked medically by men! However, Atafeh is released from the police custody by her rich father by offering bribes to the police and it is her brother that comes to the rescue of her friend, Shireen. The whole saga shows how restricted the life is for the Iranian youth.

The movie is like a beautifully woven fabric. It shows how fast the life is for the youth and how slow the life is for typical Iranians. The sex scenes in the movies are not included forcibly. They happen with the natural flow of the movie. Believe me, they are beautifully done with showing mild but creative nudity. The movie is set in Iran but it was filmed in Lebanon to avoid the Iranian government.

The film is in Persian language and you can buy a DVD with English subtitles or download the movie from torrents with English subtitles.

The director, Maryam Keshavarz, was raised in the United States but spent summers in Iran. There she saw the unreasonable restrictions in the country and how the youth try to be adventurous and experimental. This is the first full length feature film she directed.

The critics had mainly positive reviews and it was called “A thought-provoking, insightful look into Iranian youth culture” by many. The film was banned in Iran as expected and the director Keshavarz herself was banned from returning to Iran by the Iranian government.

Circumstance

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Circumstance DVD Cover

Circumstance DVD Cover

Circumstance

Circumstance

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