Bhaji on the Beach is a film about a group of Indian women who live in England, and their trip to the beach. The film deals with inter-generational conflicts as well as conflicts about gender roles and expectations of women in their family and culture. In this clip, we are introduced to Rekha, a friend visiting from Bombay. Rekha calls attention to the older women’s attachment to “home,” a home which has changed and modernized a lot in the thirty years since the older women arrived in England. The interaction between these Indian women who have lived in England for thirty years and the woman who is actually living in Bombay is a striking example of the complexities of migration and assimilation in a transnational landscape.
In the movie, most of the older generation seems to have done their best not to assimilate to English culture, and to ensure that their children still feel connected to their Indian heritage as well. However, Rekha’s presence and her disgust at the older women’s lack of progressiveness suggests a new complication to the older women’s insistence on maintaining their traditional customs and practices. Only because they have been away from India for so long can these women presume that nothing has changed in their home country. In fact, Rekha shows them that India has changed as well, and many of the traditions and ideals that they hold dear are no longer so pervasive in India, either. The film does not examine why this is the case, although it is likely due to the spread of Western or “progressive” ideas from places like England or the US to India. Regardless of their origins, it suggests that these women would feel out of place whether they were in England or back “home” in India. We discussed in class that the past is often simply a different country, but in this instance, that does not appear to be the case.