The Boston Phoenix

DIRECTED BY: Deepa Mehta

REVIEWED: 10-18-99

The second in a trilogy beginning with Fire, Deepa Mehta's film is far more elemental than its predecessor. Eight-year-old Lenny enjoys privileged circumstances in 1948 Lahore as India achieves independence. Although stricken with polio in a country about to boil over with the internecine Muslim-Hindu warfare of the partition, she is a member of a wealthy, neutral Parsee family and seemingly above the fray. Her beloved nanny Shanta, though, is a Hindu whose beauty spurs the passion of two charismatic Muslim men. When the carnage breaks out, Lenny gets to see the horror of partition first-hand in a jolting scene of violence; through the misfortunes of Shanta she learns the dark recesses of love and hatred, and the frailty of the individual when confronted by the forces of history. Although it starts out like a creaky Merchant-Ivory costumer, Mehta's film gathers momentum and gravity.

--Peter Keough

Other Films by Deepa Mehta

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