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Bhaji on the Beach (1993)

The ladies of an Asian womens centre discover that a trip to Blackpool illuminates lives as well as lights.

Directed by:

Gurinda Chanda

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 96 minutes

UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Country: United Kingdom

'Bhaji on the Beach' is the story of the members of the Saheli Women's Group, a centre for British Asian women, who set out from their Birmingham homes in a minibus for a day trip to Blackpool Beach to enjoy the famous Illuminations. A simple day out is soon shown to be something more, since each of the women brings their own problems with them. There is Ginder (Kim Vithana) who is fleeing her violent husband and taking her five-year-old son with her. Ginder has no idea that her husband is hot on the trail and will follow her to Blackpool if that is what it takes. Hashida (Sarita Kjajuria) is only 18 – although she is meant to be starting medical school she has discovered herself to be pregnant, and to make the situation worse her boyfriend is black. Hashida will find that her secrets come out on this trip, although things will not turn out as she expects.

Madhu (Renu Kochar) and Ladhu (Nisha K Nayar) are teen sisters, travelling without adult company. Like many Asian teens, they struggle with the clash between modern sexuality and the demands of their culture. Mature Asha (Lalita Ahmed) spends her days working in a shop, but is now about to discover that love is possible in the most unexpected of circumstances. And the eldest, Pushpa (Zohra Sehgal) will find that all her worst fears about modern Britain are confirmed when she comes face to face with a troupe of male strippers. All the women, young and old, have little in common but the events of the day will lead to increased mutual understanding and draw them together.

Written by Gurinda Chanda and the doyenne of British Asian film Meera Syal, 'Bhaji on the Beach' provides a snapshot of Asian life through the eyes of this group of women. As well as their own problems, they must deal with those imposed from without, such as a nasty encounter with prejudiced thugs outside a service station. Within the group, there are also conflicts, as the older women try to come to terms with the modern views that are becoming increasingly common amongst younger Asians. The resulting film is genuine and touching, and the actors play their parts with understated realism. Special mention must go to an entertaining rendition of Cliff Richard's 'Summer Holiday', sung in Punjabi!

It's Got: A genuine slice of Asian life, warts and all.

It Needs: To perhaps try to deal with fewer issues at one time.

DVD Extras No extras are included with this basic FilmFour DVD release. DVD Extras Rating: 0/10

Alternatives:

Anita & Me, Bend It Like Beckham, East is East.

Summary

Enjoyable entry into the strong ranks of British-made Asian comedy dramas that will entertain far beyond the Asian community.

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