Miss Anthropic Principle

Bhowani Junction 1956

Much to the dismay of cinemaocd I really loved this bizarre and challenging film. Though, I can understand why it might not be well loved. But before I rip it to shreds, I must say why it spoke to me.

Pros:

  • Ava Gardner (despite being white and playing an Anglo-Indian, see cons): Her portrayal of the cultural displacement of Anglo-Indians was very poignant. She never over-played it, even when, as Victoria Jones, she completely lost her temper with her loved ones because of her internal struggle. When a person is of two worlds there seems to be no salvation. Few people have conveyed that particular type of abandonment on film. 
  • Stewart Granger 
  • Stewart Granger in uniform
  • Stewart Granger in uniform with his shirt unbuttoned
  • Stewart Granger in uniform with his shirt unbuttoned DANCING
  • India
  • Trains
  • Negative depiction of British rule: always a favourite trope of mine
  • The kissing (I’m a sucker for screen kisses)
  • Miklos Rozsa’s musical involvement 

Cons:

  • WHITE ACTORS PLAYING NON-WHITES! This is never a good move and I always find it offensive. Ava Gardner, Bill Travers and Francis Matthews, among others. Apart from taking roles away from Indian actors, it just looks dumb, as the bad makeup jobs cannot hide most of the caucasian features. You’re just not fooling anybody. Lame.
  • Bad Indian accents: I didn’t know Anglo-Indians were from Wales. Bill, I love ya, but just stop.
  • Male chauvinism/general sexism: It really eats my lunch. I know it was a sign of the times, and therefore a part of history (which is not dead yet, apparently), but sometimes it was hard to watch. Too many instances to name. I didn’t care for Savage manhandling/shoving the sari-clad Jones around. I have a feeling I’d be a little less anoyed if she was wearing her uniform at the time. I’ve been well trained by a phalocentric society…or something of the sort.
  • Some of the acknowledgement of racism was a tad too obvious.
  • Col. Savage ordering untouchables to throw their sewage on the peaceful rioters lying on the tracks. It was disgusting and, of course, was meant to be so. And he did it so as not to let them be killed by the train, but it was a horrible method to chose. 
  • I could go on… I’m sure I missed out a few things.

Still watching it again this week.