I really enjoyed this. OK, it was all a bit cheesy and obvious – you just knew from the title that any boy our heroine met would be anything other than suitable – but it’s Sunday night drama, not a documentary. Sunday night drama is meant to be entertaining, and this was.
Andrew Davies, adapting Vikram Seth’s book, appears to have rediscovered some measure of self control, so we didn’t get any bare bottoms bobbing along a beach. Instead, we got wonderful Indian architecture, scenery and music, and an amusing if rather unoriginal storyline about Lata, a spirited young woman whose mother was determined to find her a suitable husband, and who met someone thoroughly *un*suitable instead (although I gather that more suitors will turn up in later episodes). There was also an unsuitable woman, with whom Lata’s brother-in-law became involved. And the background (I refuse to describe the 1950s as “history”) was very much there too, with the Hindu-Muslim tensions, this being set in Northern India only a few years after partition, much in evidence.
Northern India is the land of princes and rajas and, whilst our characters weren’t in that league, they were still from the wealthier echelons of society, and close to the powers that were, although we were told that they’d come down in the world a little. So a lot of the scenes were rather glossy and glamorous, which always works well in the Sunday 9pm slot 🙂 . Escapism. I need escapism. I definitely need escapism!
It began with the wedding of Lata’s sister. We saw Lata chatting away to her new brother-in-law’s brother, and I did wonder if they’d get together; but, instead, he took up with a much older singer. Lata’s mother was desperate to find her a suitable husband; but she, being a thoroughly modern miss at university, was determined that she wasn’t being pushed into an arranged marriage. Yes, OK, it was a bit cliched, but it was a drama, and they usually are a bit cliched. Lata duly met a handsome young chap at university … but, needless to say, it turned out that he was a Muslim, whereas she was a Hindu.
The aftermath of partition was always there, with a lot of talk about building a temple next to a mosque, and riots breaking out towards the end of the episode. Without wanting to get political, these are issues which still haven’t been resolved – and how I wish they could be. The juxtaposition of the tensions and the unrest with the rather soapy storylines about the meddling mother and the unsuitable romance might not have worked, but it did.
I thought it was a very good first episode. Yes, it was kind of obvious, but Sunday night dramas are!
Just a bit of a rant, though. You’d think that the Whinge Brigade would be pleased that the BBC were showing a drama with an entirely South Asian cast; but no, they are whingeing about everything. It doesn’t show the lives of poor people. Well, that’s because it’s about two wealthy families. Pride and Prejudice does not show the lives of poor people. Coronation Street and EastEnders do not show the lives of the aristocracy. Things are about what they’re about. The characters are speaking English. That’s because it’s a BBC drama. Did the characters in the adaptation of War and Peace speak Russian? No. Did the characters in the adaptation of Les Miserables speak French? No. And, the piece de resistance, it’s “Orientalist”, because characters are wearing saris and playing sitars. WTF? Would they prefer characters in 1950s India to be wearing Dior’s New Look and listening to Frank Sinatra? What is it with these people? If you show an interest in Indian culture, in the lovely clothes and lovely music, it’s “Orientalist” and “cultural appropriation”. If you don’t, you’re a white supremacist. Put a sock in it, FFS! What on earth is wrong with appreciating a different culture? Surely it’s good that we can appreciate different cultures. I know these people moan about anything, but what on earth is the problem with Indian characters in a series set in India wearing Indian clothes and playing Indian music?
Oh well. Let’s ignore the moaners. I really enjoyed this, and I’m sure that a lot of other people did too! And we need all the enjoyable telly we can get at the moment!!