Turns out there was not just one, but two desi-related films up for the Best Foreign Language Film category at the Oscars this year. I’m talking about Denmark’s After the Wedding, which will be released here in the US next week on March 30 in select cities. Don’t know how I overlooked this one back when the nominees were announced, but the late release date probably explains it.
While many films concerning Westerners in India involve characters going to the motherland to find themselves after going through some sort of a crisis (Shantaram and Darjeeling Limited come to mind), After the Wedding is different. This film deals with the emotional turmoil a Westerner goes through after he leaves India. In After the Wedding, a Danish expat, Jacob, lives in India and runs an orphanage. He also has an adopted son, Pramod, whom he’s raised since infancy. When the orphanage is threatened by closure, Jacob begrudgingly leaves India for Denmark to meet with a businessman, JÃ¸rgen, who offers to help keep the orphanage open. Jacob also discovers that a) JÃ¸rgen’s wife happens to Jacob’s ex and b) JÃ¸rgen’s daughter (gasp!) might actually be his. And so Jacob must now ask himself a difficult question: return to India and his adopted Pramod or stay in Denmark with the biological daughter he’s never known?
You can view the trailer after the jump. Is it just me or does Jacob look like he’s in excellent shape for someone who’s about to face a mid-life crisis?
Little Pramod’s suggestion to Jacob which, roughly paraphrased, amounts to “keep your garbage in your own yard,” is apt, I think, for all Western filmmakers who have and will use India as a moral panacea so that their white characters can feel better about themselves. While I’m at it and for what it’s worth, I hereby declare a moratorium on any such filmmakers entering India (or any Third World country, for that matter) in hopes of preventing any further culturally condescending journeys into the white man’s heart of darkness.
Obviously, I haven’t seen the film yet, so I’m going to refrain from giving any judgment or speculation of my own. If anyone has had the chance to see it, I’d be curious to hear reactions. After the Wedding will be released in select cities next Friday, which means that it probably won’t be showing in Sacramento anytime soon, and I’ll have to wait another six months to watch it on Netflix. So I’ll leave it up to you, mutineers, to provide feedback on the film in the meantime.