SOAS University of London

SOAS marks International Women's Day with 20th anniversary screening of 'Bhaji on the Beach'

5 March 2014
Bhaji on the Beach

Tongues on Fire, the annual Asian film festival celebrating women in film and Asian Circle, a network of professional women that work to support vulnerable Asian women in South Asia have come together to mark this year’s International Women’s Day with a special screening of Gurinder Chadha’s highly acclaimed debut film ‘Bhaji on the Beach’.

The event to be held at SOAS on Monday 10 March will see the film, written by SOAS Honorary Graduate Meera Syal, mark its 20th anniversary, with all proceeds from the event being donated to Oxfam Projects in India to help end violence against women.  The event will be hosted by Rachel Dwyer, Professor of Indian Culture and Cinema at SOAS. It will be introduced by Pushpinder Chowdhry, Director of Tongues on Fire and Santosh Bhanot, Chair of Asian Circle. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Syal, actor Shaheen Khan and other panel members and hosted by journalist Radha Bedi, most recently seen in the BBC documentary ‘India: A Dangerous Place to be a Woman’

Set within the framework of a heart-warming comedy, Bhaji on the Beach, released in 1993, was without doubt a ground-breaking film that tackled many of the cultural taboos and barriers faced by women within the community, including domestic violence and mixed marriages.

Meera Syal said: “It seems very apt that the screening is raising funds for projects that are actively working to prevent violence against women. We made Bhaji on the Beach to raise awareness of these issues, and although it makes me very sad to see that such terrible violence continues against women both here and across the world, it does give me hope that organisations like Oxfam and Asian Circle are actively working to put an end to the brutality and to help women create a better future.”

Shaheen Khan, who played the role of Simi, acting as the advisor and voice of reason in the film says of the event: “It’s hard to believe that Bhaji is 20 years old – the film was clearly ahead of its time and addressed a lot of the issues that at that time were kept firmly behind closed doors. Simi was a leader and her strength and belief in the right thing helped some of the characters in the film. There are a lot of women like Simi who are determined not to let women be abused either physically or mentally. I’m honoured to have played the role and delighted that funds raised from the evening’s screening will go to projects in India that will be integral in stopping further violence against women.”

Gurinder Chadha Continues: “It’s a film that made me very proud to be a film-maker. Many people thought Meera and I were very brave tackling issues that certainly at that time remained unspoken and behind closed doors. To see it screened 20 years on, to new audiences will be very interesting – and to be screening the film on a day that celebrates the value of women across the world seems very fitting.”

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