Last summer, I posted about my experiences Desi Spotting in Brazil and observed that “despite my lack of desi human spottings, there was no dearth of Indian influenceâ€”mostly of the exotic India varietyâ€”to be found in Brazil.”
I’m revisiting this topic today, thanks to Sepia reader Vijay, who shot me an email from Rio a couple of weeks ago. “Omg–have you heard of this Brazilian soap opera about an indian family?” he wrote. “A sepia investigation is in order.”
It certainly was! And, here’s what I dug up, with a little help from Vijay.
Since January 19th, Brazilian TVs (approximately 60,000 households just in Sao Paulo) evenings have been tuned to a new telenovela six nights a week. Camhino das Indias (Path of India) “examines beliefs and values that differentiate the Eastern and Western world” and follows the story of a forbidden love between a Brazilan man (whom I understand to be a yoga instructor) and an Indian woman from a conservative family. The drama was filmed with a budget with a mostly Brazilian cast on a budget of $80 million in Jaipur, Agra, Dubai, and Rio (where two Indian towns were constructed for production purposes!).
Backpacking Ninja, a desi blogger traveling through India describes it thus:
With Portuguese actors all dressed in extremely jatak (gaudy) Indian clothes (looking thoroughly North Indian), speaking Portuguese, it’s a total riot. I laughed so much watching one episode. The episode was a wedding….. the background music that was playing in the wedding as they did the saath phere (sacred walk around the fire symbolizing marriage) was Kajra re (one of the most popular songs to play in dance bars in India). It’s almost like playing Shakiras ‘Hips dont lie’ when someone is walking down the aisle in a church. In another scene, the heroine Maya (Juliana Paes) walked over to the buffet table and made eye contact with the hero Bahuan (Marcio Garcia, and trying to be Indian in all ways possible, they showed a dream sequence of them holding hands… not in person.
The opener features Sukhwinder Singh’s “Beedi” and is intended to show off the “cultural diversity that exists in the country,” according to creative director Roberto Stein. I’ll let you be the judge of that. Whatever your opinion (“this exoticizes India yet again” or “this is great for Indian tourism” or “wtf?”), I think that you’ll agree that your eyes will stay glued to it.
For those who want more (I certainly did!), beneath the fold, I’ve added clips from episode one.The show’s creators are going all out with their aim of educating Brazilians about India and her cultural and religious traditions. The official blog features posts on Hindu gods and goddesses and scriptures, the history of India, and Bollywood cinema, as well as recipes (gulab jamun, anyone?)!
Episode one begins on what seem to be the banks of the River Ganga. The soundtrack is a Portugese pop song about sadhus from what I could make out and then, we meet a Portugese-speaking Sadhu type who explains various Hindu traditions to some Brazilian visitors!
In the same episode, the initial meeting of the two lovers (anyone else see a resemblance to Aishwarya Rai in Maya?) takes place at a temple … and you really don’t have to speak Portugese to understand the rest (the Bollywood soundtrack does a lot of the work!)
And, I’ll end with … the kiss that wasn’t.