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If I didn't have to watch it...
on 12 September 2009
Like some other people, I ordered this film because I've just started studying with the Open University, and this is a set text.
I ordered it in the hope that it would be a decent piece of thoughtful, low-budget entertainment, but it isn't. Everything about it screams "cheap" - the script is worthy but dull, the performances are wooden, the direction is no more than competent and the whole thing has the air of something that is destined to wind up as a set text for the Open University. It's odd, because some of the talent here would go on to do much better things: writer Meera Syal would go on to be part of the team for the great sketch show "Goodness Gracious Me" and the very funny spoof chat show "The Kumars at No. 42", while director Gurinder Chadha upped her game considerably in subsequent movies like "Bend It Like Beckham" and "Bride and Prejudice".
"Bhaji on the Beach", although it was made in 1993, feels like a throwback to the early 80s. Attitudes to race and sex are Acutely And Sensitively Observed, but there's little enjoyment to be had. It's more like a not very good TV play than a feature film. It just goes to show that good intentions are not enough; you also have to crank it up a bit.