Went to Bhaji on the Beach as part of the Film4 classics season. I never saw this as a kid, coz I would have been 7 when it came out. But it’s great!
A bunch of Brummies go on a trip to Blackpool through the local South Asian Women’s centre. There’s wee auld grannies clucking their tongues at all the weans. There’s Asha, who’s going half mad in her joyless domesticity and is having visions of the cinematic romance she once envisioned for herself. There’s the teenagers who’ve come to try and get a snog away from parental eyes. There’s Hashida, the neighbourhood’s golden girl who’s found out she’s pregnant to her secret black lover. And there’s Ginder, who’s scandalised the community by running out on her husband to become a single mum.
I loved this film. It starts out a bit rocky, with some of the scenes a bit ‘Eastenders acting’, but as the film goes on everybody seems to hit their stride.
It’s so weird to see something from a time I lived in, and see it look so dated. I kept going – Look, Woolworths! Look, I had that plaid shirt! As a seaside film, it already has a level of twee nostalgia baked it, but if anything, time has lent it an increased sweetness.
It’s just a good time. Just as the characters are on a nice day out, the movie is just a feel-good ride. For all the issues hit on – domestic abuse, racism, abortion – it’s never grim, because the nucleus is of a strong community of women, sometimes in conflict with each other, but fierce to defend each other.
P.S. My favourite was granny Pushpa. She reminded me so much of my own granny, who, whenever she had to mention a controversial subject, spoke through her nose. Them down the street were “Cah-thlah-s” and they two lassies across the road were “leh-sbeh-s”. Pushpa does the same thing except she breaks into Hindi whenever she’s saying something dodgy. I loved her so much!