Lesbian ‘Desis’ in Deepa Mehta’s ‘Fire’: Re-defining the Boundaries of the (Glo)bal and the Lo(cal)

By Arudhra Krishnaswamy.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Globalisation has come to signify a whole new set of practices and trends and is held responsible for some of the major transformations in the structures of media production, representation and audience reception. Where national cinema is believed to perpetuate hegemonic discourses in its narrative, global productions on the other hand are believed to contest those points of view and thus create a new confrontational genre. In this paper, I question the legitimacy and validity of this strong oppositional relationship between the local and the global. I propose that a more suitable interpretation of sexual minority representation in Indian cinema comes from observing the synergy of the two forces and thereby reading it as a ‘Glocal’ enterprise. By conducting an in-depth textual and narrative analysis of Deepa Mehta’s popular global production, Fire, I will demonstrate how although diasporic films do present an attempt to go beyond mainstream characterisation and narrative techniques, they simultaneously incorporate a number of those very ideas, hence proving their high dependence on “pre-established networks of exchange” and local knowledge. I argue that despite a shift in the visualisation of gender and sexuality in global cinema, its core position remains conservative and old making the dichotomy between the two genres highly debatable. It is this consistent attenuation of the global forces by the local and the evident amalgamation of Indianness and Westernness in Fire that makes it a clear marker of Glocalisation.

Keywords: Queer Representation, Sexuality, Globalisation, Indian Cinema, Fire(New?)Queer Cinema vs.(Main)stream Cinema

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 8, Issue 11, pp.313-324. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 660.085KB).

Arudhra Krishnaswamy

Teaching Assistant, Communications and New Media, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore, Singapore

I joined the Communications and New Media programme at the National University of Singapore as a Masters student in the year 2007. Being a research student, during the course of my study, I also worked as a part time teaching assistant teaching several ungraduate modules ranging from level 1 to level 3. Upon the completion of my course, I took up a full time position in the programme as a teaching Assistant and I am currently doing the same. Before I joined the National University Of Singapore, I studied at the Delhi University , India and successfully completed my B. A. Honours degree in English Literature which was really the beginning of my fascination for the humanities.


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