There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Depictions of women in Indian film raise fundamental questions about the voluptuous yet puritanical culture that resulted from Hinduism’s encounters with Islam and Victorianism. When Deepa Mehta’s Fire (pictured) played at the Key in 1997, it seemed a rather chaste tale of two sisters-in-law who begin a sexual relationship after each is rebuffed by her husband; upon opening in India last year, however, it caused a Lewinsky-sized uproar. Mehta’s film is the only one in this series that will be shown at both sponsoring institutions—March 20 at 2 p.m. at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, April 30 at 7 p.m. at the Freer Gallery—but it’s not the only one to address a controversial subject. In Prakash Jha’s 1997 Death Sentence, a woman challenges the corruption of the local patriarchy (March 6 at 2 p.m.). Jabbar Patel’s 1981 Threshold is about a liberal lawyer’s wife who runs a home for women (March 12 at 7 p.m.). The heroine of Ketan Mehta’s 1985 Spices seeks sanctuary in a woman-run spice factory (March 14 at 2 p.m.). In Mrinal Sen’s 1979 And Quiet Flows the Dawn, a family is shaken when its wage-earning daughter disappears (April 23 at 7 p.m.). The documentaries include two short films about Indian women by Mira Nair, who later made Salaam Bombay and Mississippi Masala (March 21 at 2 p.m.). At the Freer Gallery’s Meyer Auditorium, 12th & Jefferson Dr. SW. (202) 357-3200; and the National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1250 New York Ave. NW. (202) 783-5000. Free. (Mark Jenkins)