A Film Review. Passage to India is a dramatized film of a novel of the same title by E. M. Forster, published in 1924. The film, released in 1984, was written and directed by David Lean. It addresses issues during the British Raj (the era of colonization in India) (Phillips, 2006). It addresses issues such as British imperialism, racial tensions, evils of colonialism, misuse of the law, and sexual repression of the era. Although some significant issues during the colonial era are not explicit, the film reflects the relationship between the Britons and the locals in India (Phillips, 2006).
A Passage of India presents a story of a young woman, Ms. Adela Quested, and her elderly companion, Mrs. Moore, who decide to move from Britain to Chandrapore to see the “real India,” which is widely perceived as a land of Mystery and a land of riches. After arriving in India, they are welcomed by Mrs. Moore’s son, Ronny, who works as a British magistrate in India (Phillips, 2006). However, after arriving in India, the two are disappointed that there is no change from the life they led back in Britain. They find that the Britons in India have isolated themselves from the natives and are still living in the British culture. This image is well characterized by Ronny, who perceives the local Indians as untrustworthy. Mrs. Moore finds that her son has changed since he left Britain and has started distrusting people (Phillips, 2006). By showing Ronny’s behavior change only, the film seeks to illustrate the effects of colonial rule on the excluded Indian populace and the corrupted elite (Paranjape, 2012). The film portrays how the Indians were cast outside their land during the colonial era. The distrust for educated Indians led the Britons to bar the local Indians from the highest-paying positions and jobs Paranjape, 2012).
Unlike other Britons, Mrs. Moore and Ms. Quested appreciated the “real India.” The two appreciate the Indians, even though the places they were living aided in isolating them from the locals (Phillips, 2006). Mrs. Moore and Ms. Quested represent a small group of Britons who refused to conform to the ideas and beliefs held by most Britons who did not consider India a home during the colonial era. At some point, Ms. Quested falls in love with Aziz, a young Muslim doctor based in India (Sinha, 2012). Most of the Britons perceived India as a place they occupied to enrich themselves and the British economy but not to benefit the natives. Thus, most of the Britons were not interested in India’s culture.
The film also demonstrates how the Indians distrusted the Britons during the colonial era. Aziz organized a bridge party and invited both Indians and a few Britons. However, the invitation was not warmly received by Indians as most showed skepticism. They also disliked the fact that a British official arranged the party. At the same time, most of the British officials who were invited failed to attend the party (Phillips, 2006). The film reflects the historical issues that occurred during the colonial era. As depicted in the film, the British colonial administrators were in India to pursue lucrative investment opportunities and careers as administrators and bureaucrats in fields such as police, justice, revenue, public works, education, postal and railway services, and engineering. This made many British officials move from the middle to the upper class. As a result, they found it challenging to integrate with the low-class locals (Deutschmann, 2011).
Another issue in the film is when Mrs. Quested accuses Aziz of raping her after they visit Marabar Caves. As the case proceeds in court, Mrs. Quested reveals that she had lied to the court and had been assaulted by someone other than Aziz (Phillips, 2006). This issue demonstrates how the Britons misused the law to mistreat the locals in India during the colonial era. Generally, the film reflects many of the events that occurred during the colonial period in India. However, the film does not explicitly indicate some of the significant issues. For instance, it does not portray how most Indians wanted the Britons to move out of their land (Deutschmann, 2011).
In conclusion, A Passage to India brings the context of the colonial era in India to the audience. However, the film may be boring to the audience as it is set against a tumultuous Indian background. As well, the film is vast on a physical scale. Despite this, it is funny and intimate and moves in a manner that the maker controls. Also, it is full of vivid characters; it is played in a beautiful, provocative style and to near perfection.
Deutschmann, Moritz. Edward Said and the Cultural History of British Colonialism in India.
Norderstedt: GRIN Verlag. 2011
Paranjape, Makarand R.. Making India: Colonialism, National Culture, and the Afterlife of
Indian English Authority: Colonialism, National Culture, and the Afterlife of Indian English Authority. New York: Springer, 2012
Phillips, Gene D., Beyond the Epic: The Life & Films of David Lean. Lexington: University
Press of Kentucky. 2006
Sinha, Nitin. Communication and Colonialism in Eastern India: Bihar, the 1760s-1880s. Anthem