Desire is a great force field of energy that takes us beyond ourselves. It animates both our spiritual impulses and our erotic feelings. There is no way of stemming the tide of desire — it will come to fruition eventually. These are some of the themes of Fire.

In this compelling drama, Radha (Shabana Azmi) is an obedient and dutiful New Delhi wife who has patiently endured the celibacy of her husband Ashok for 15 years. Disappointed that she was unable to give him a child, he has devoted himself to a swami. When his brother Jatin brings home his new wife Sita (Nandita Das), the two women become friends. Jatin is still loyal to his Chinese mistress and has no love for his wife. Sita has no respect for female subservience and soon leads Radha into a lesbian affair. Ashok's religious mother, hobbled by a heart attack, witnesses their unfolding relationship. A servant eventually tells Ashok what is going on.

Writer and director Deepa Mehta has made a sensuous film about the boundlessness of desire. With several bold stokes, she shows how religion has cut off Ashok and his mother from love. The relationship between Sita and Radha changes them both and takes them on a journey where spirit and flesh are entwined.