Fire, Water and The Goddess: The Films of Deepa Mehta and Satyajit Ray as Critiques of Hindu Patriarchy

  • Author(s): David F. Burton
  • When: 2013-10
  • Where: Journal of Religion & Film
  • This article focuses on Fire (1996) and Water (2005), two films directed by Deepa Mehta that present patriarchal Hindu attitudes to women and sexuality as in need of reform. Mehta’s films have met with hostility from Hindu conservatives and have also been accused of Orientalist misrepresentations. While these objections highlight the contested nature of “authentic” Hindu identity, Fire and Water remain powerful indictments of male hegemony in Hinduism. Mehta has cited Satyajit Ray as a major influence on her work; there are interesting parallels between Mehta’s films and Ray’s film Devi (The Goddess, 1960), which explores the plight of a young woman in a patriarchal Hindu family in the nineteenth century.

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