British South Asian Cinema and Identity II: ‘When did Mr Collins become the ‘Ugly American’? Representing America in the films of Gurinder Chadha’
journal contributionposted on 28.06.2010, 15:47 by E. Anna Claydon
Following on from my discussion in the previous issue of nostalgia in contemporary British South‐Asian cinema, this article continues by focussing on the films of British South‐Asian and Sikh filmmaker Gurinder Chadha. Chadha first came a director of interest with her 1989 documentary for Channel 4 I’m British But… a fascinating and enlightening insight into the varying kinds of identification British South‐Asians make with their multiple cultural influences. This was followed by Bhaji on the Beach in 1993, which Chadha wrote with the also then up‐and‐coming writer Meera Syal. Syal’s semi‐auto‐biographical tale of being a South‐Asian ‘Brummie’ in the 1970s was the subject of 2002’s Anita and Me, which I also examined in the previous article but the central focus of this paper, Bride and Prejudice, as an adaptation of Jane Austen’s classical novel of frustrated girlhood and frustrating men, Pride and Prejudice deals with another kind of adaptive process, not just one of South‐Asian to Britain but of a British text which, like so many of Austen’s novels (especially Mansfield Park), albeit tangentially and through implicit reference, engaged with the concept of a colonial identity and culture and the possibility of post‐colonialism in the immediate period of the end of the British slave trade. Consequently, the dilemmas of America and Britain are writ large in considering the ‘truths’ of identity in Chadha’s adaptation and, it is posited, what has been lost in one country, can be found again elsewhere… at ‘home’, wherever that might be.