Fire in the Mountains review: A bewildering commentary on poverty, familial trauma, and women's inner turmoils

Karishma Jangid
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Fire in the Mountains

Ajitpal Singh's directorial debut "Fire in the Mountains" was showcased at the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival 2023. It was originally released in 2021!

You know the kind of movie that keeps building on the tension, but when it finally explodes, it does so in the most unimaginable manner, and you come out of the theatre thinking, "What just happened?" Fire in the Mountains is exactly that! It deals with extremely sensitive topics but does so in a very careful manner and keeps you hooked at all times.

Also Read: Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival 2023 Day 6: Borderlands and Follower review

In a remote Himalayan village, Chandra (Vinamrata Rai) runs a small guest house, takes care of the domestic chores, and works on a farm. Since her house is up on a hill, she travels up and down numerous times a day. Carrying her paralysed son on her back gets incredibly strenuous for her. All she wants is a road. Then the guest house will attract more customers and it will be easier to take her son to the doctor. However, her husband Dharam (Chandan Bisht), an alcoholic, depends on Chandra for a living, and believes only their deities can help their son. Her son, meanwhile, is depressed. He won't go to school. Even when he gets bullied, he won't speak up. Chandra is stuck in a house full of people who don't want to help themselves and she is growing tired and more frustrated every passing day. Chandra is not perfect. She constantly taunts her sister-in-law and is apathetic towards her children at times. But her complex character with an excruciating turmoil has been written very thoughtfully.

The tension in this film escalates and escalates until you can no longer bear it and eventually ends up in a climax that is shocking as well as brilliant. The climax is not the only good aspect of the film, the script is impressive too. It restrains itself while giving the characters the most jarring blows. It constantly keeps you on the edge. The camera captures the pain as well as the beauty of the family as well as the village. The acting, too, contributes highly to making the story effective. Rai especially gives a very skilful performance with frustration in her voice and pain on her face. Every time a crisis hits, you see Rai's face going from angry to sad to hopeless to angry and motivated again. 

The film is a commentary on a lot of things - domestic issues, poverty, and the government's false promises, but most importantly, it is an apt portrayal of how women's requests or demands, no matter how righteous, often go ignored and the measures they have to adopt to make themselves heard. Fire in the Mountains is a bewildering yet entertaining and crucial watch.

Fire in the Mountains is streaming on Sony Liv. 

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