FQ Columnist Bilal Qureshi reflects on Deepa Mehta's film Earth at an important moment in Indian and global history. Writing from New Delhi, he had the opportunity to speak to Mehta in person about her life and work, and that discussion is woven into this column. Since making Earth almost twenty years ago, Deepa Mehta has seen her stature grow to include film festival premieres, an Oscar nomination, and a platform as one of the rare women auteurs on the international stage. She has lived in Canada since the 1970s, but her most celebrated films are not about immigrant displacement or hyphenated identity. Rather, she has always told Indian stories. From the groundbreaking story of a lesbian relationship between two housewives in suffocating arranged marriages (Fire, 1996) to the forced exile of widows in orthodox Hindu scripture (Water, 2005), she has confronted uncomfortable social realities in Indian society. Although she has been labeled an anti-national and had sets burned and cinemas attacked by the religious right for insulting traditional values, she has taken the challenges in stride and continued making films.
Elsewhere: The Discomforting Legacy of Deepa Mehta's Earth
Bilal Qureshi is a writer and cultural critic exploring the intersection of international politics, identity, and art. During 2008–15 he served as producer, editor, and reporter for NPR's All Things Considered. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Newsweek, and NPR's Code Switch.
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Bilal Qureshi; Elsewhere: The Discomforting Legacy of Deepa Mehta's Earth. Film Quarterly 1 June 2017; 70 (4): 77–82. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fq.2017.70.4.77
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