British India Connection
I am an NRI, translated into: no-real Indian. I follow Indian cinema in my quest to find only one million original films before humanity as we know it disappears. I will use the term Indian cinema sparingly because I only have access to Hindi films, not Malayalam, Punjabi, Kashmiri, Konkani, Nepali, Khasi, Dogri, Garo and other languages.
I was screening yet another movie where the son of a wealthy businessman returns to India from the United States, when I wondered yet again, why most Indian movies in my DVD library are based on this story. What happened to the British connection?
India was a British colony until it started running its own affairs on 15 August 1947 if I’m not mistaken. I understand the flag of independent India went up on 26 January 1950. Two of my favourite films Kabhi Alvida Naa Ke Hehna directed by Karan Johar, and Aa Ab Laut Chalen directed by Rishi Kapoor were shot in New York, the Big Apple. Who gave New York that nickname?
Anyway, I went to my DVD collection and looked for Indian films that show the colonial collection between Britain and India. I found Mujhse Dosti Karoge from Yas Raj Films directed by Kunal Kohli. It traces the lives of two girls and one boy. Raj and his parents leave a place in India called Shimla and go to the United Kingdom because his father wants to exploit the budding DOT.COM phenomenon. Raj leaves behind two friends who are cousins Pooja and Tina.
The director uses e-mails to show us how the three friends grow up and how Raj thinks he is writing to the beautiful Tina, when in fact it is Pooja who writes about everything that reminds him of India. It is after 15 years now and Raj (Hrithik Rohan) is grown up. He tells Tina (Kareena Kapoor) that he is coming to India with his family for a visit.
Pooja (Rani Mukherjee) freaks out and tells her cousin Tina that she must pretend she wrote those e-mails. Raj is confused during his stay in India because Tina doesn’t remember all the things they talked about in the e-mails. He recognises Pooja’s room and the book Love Story Raj and Tina used to discuss in e-mails. The film Mujhse Dosti Karoge is a walking advertisement for historical London.
London is also gets a free advertisement in Namastey London, directed by Vipul Amrutlal Shah, a director who has made many films with Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif. She is Jazz in this film, a young woman born and raised in London, complete with suitors from the British upper class that have access to the Buckingham Palace.
Her father does not like the way she stays out late dancing and doing other things most British teenagers do. He takes the family to India with the intention of getting a husband for her. Indeed, Arjun Ballu Singh, Akshay Kumar’s character falls in love with her. Jazz, Katrina Kaif’s character calls Imran (Upen Patel) about her difficult situation.
Imran says there’s absolutely nothing to be alarmed about. She can go ahead and make her parents happy but such a marriage will not be valid in the United Kingdom. Jazz and her parents return home. When Arjun Ballu Singh finally travels to London to see his wife, Jazz tells him that they are not married according to British law. She goes ahead with her intention to marry Charlie, a British aristocrat played by Clive Standen.
Baabul, directed by Ravi Chopra also has a British tie-in. Amitabh Bachchan is Balraj Kapoor. Shobna (Hema Malini) is his wife. They have one son Avinash (Salman Khan) who has recently returned from the U.S. He meets a painter Millie (Rani Mukherjee) and they get married. Rajat (John Abraham), her childhood friend doesn’t tell her that he has always loved her. He leaves India for good and becomes a famous musician in Europe.
Avinash dies in a car accident after returning home from a business trip in London. His father cannot bear Millie’s pain and he thinks she is too young to be a widow. Balraj Kapoor defies his family and goes to London to talk to Raj about Millie. When Balraj saw Raj for the first time, he knew that he loved Millie.
Software development, search engines and everything related to computers and how they run our lives is one of the reasons why producers love the United States storyline, because the country attracts engineering graduates from Indian universities. The U.K. however, doesn’t get as many film projects as the U.S. but London will have some films because ties between the colonising country and colonies never die.
Nonqaba waka Msimang is the author of Sweetness The Novel.