Crazy Rich Asians : Similarities to Indians!
Social media was agog with praise for what is touted as “2018’s must see movie”, the masses had influenced and my home tribe had spoken and off we went to see Crazy Rich Asians before the other Indians et al packed the cinemas.
Our typically sunshiny South Africa was awash with a spring downpour which worked in our favour as the cinema was not packed with popcorn crunching slushie slurping teens or mothers with whining children, as most favoured staying indoors as compared to braving the elements.
Crazy Rich Asians, a 2018 romantic comedy drama, is based Kevin Kwan’s novel, Crazy Rich Asians where young economics Professor, Rachel Chu, joins her boyfriend (Nick Young) in travelling to Singapore as he is the best man for his friend’s wedding. When Rachel realises that they are to be travelling first class and is uneasy, Nick explains that his family does business and it is “one of the perks”, and that his family is merely ”comfortable” financially.
In Singapore, Rachel gets more than she bargained for when she meets Nick’s family, the super-rich Young family of Singapore. Somewhat overwhelmed at the wealth and upset at being labelled “a gold digger”, Rachel realises and rises above the levels of cattiness by some of the women at the bachelorette party, finding in her boyfriend’s cousin Astrid, a kindred, kind hearted spirit. Whilst Nick’s grandmother seems to approve of her, Nick’s disapproving mother Eleanor says that the “she will never be enough”. Crushed Rachel is deeply upset, the matriarchs turn against her and she is snubbed. At the wedding, she shares silent affirmations of love with Nick which are observed by the prospective mother-in-law, Eleanor.
At the reception, she is summoned by the grandmother and Eleanor reveals Rachael’s past “secrets” in front of Nick. Upset, Rachel runs off with Nick in tow but not before his grandmother threatens to disown him. Long story short, he finds her, proposes to her and she turns him down, meets Eleanor and explains that she has refused Nick’s hand in marriage, that all Eleanor’s future family moments will because she, Rachel, a poor girl child of a single mother, allowed her those wins. Finally, recognising in the young Rachel her own past difficulty in acclimatising to the Young expectations and realising the error of her ways and the folly of her behaviour, Eleanor meets with Nick and Nick proposes to Rachel again…in a rather surprising manner. The movie ends in true Bollywood style.
Admittedly, it was a good movie to see from another perspective, an “Asian” one. Avid Bollywood moviegoers, it is a story we often see as the Indian Cinematic houses regularly churn out love stories with villainous characters and tyrannical, disapproving mothers-in-law. Nobody, does a tyrannical mother-in-law as well as Indians. In the movies and in reality. Bollywood fan and Indian daughter-in-law here.
There were many other similarities to Indians which I cannot resist pointing out :
- Eleanor is disdainful of American living and points that that all “Americans think about is their own happiness.” She goes on to say that in the Asian culture, “We learn to put family first instead of chasing one’s passion.” That sounds much like our Indian speak when kids have left the fold and have returned seasonally and with more relaxed attitudes to situations and life.
- Rachel is described as being a “banana,” yellow on the outside but white on the inside. We Indians, are described as “coconuts”, brown on the outside, white on the inside.
- The Asians protagonists ordered a medley of dishes at the night market, clearly they bond over food as our Indian counterparts do.
- At one point, Astrid, the cousin says, “God forbid, we forget the tradition of guilting our children.” Here, was I thinking, Indian mothers were masters at that.
- When Rachel’s mother was talking about Nick’s family, she said, maybe Nick doesn’t talk about them so much because he is embarrassed that they are poor and he sends money home, as all good Chinese children do. Say no more about Indian sons, it’s what they do.
- That wedding was splendidly over-the-top, lavish and wildly expensive. Ditto for Indians, even if they have to take a massive loan for it and pay through there noses for it.
- Eleanor’s clichéd posse of matriarchs… that is typically Indian, a mother with her cronies (aka spoons) who thrive on stirring drama.
- The Asians cared about what other people thought of them… Indians first thoughts are, “What will the people say?”
- Eleanor asked Oliver to “take care of the situation” when she saw a prospective gold-digger. Oliver defused the situation by directing her to another rich man by stating that she would have more luck with a son who is an only child than the one she had initially set her sights one. Indian mentality here too.
- Rachel brings to Singapore her Mom’s three Tupperwares of food. Again, when Rachel and Mrs Chu leaves Peik Lin’s ostentatious house, Mrs Chu is seen carrying a Tupperware. Almost all Indians are guilty of this. Stay and eat as well as pack and go.
My point in highlighting the similarities is that skin colour aside, we are all alike in manners, superstitious (in some way), all share the same space maybe not the same level of lifestyles but we are all one.
Crazy Rich Asians has grossed $149.2 million worldwide already, been received warmly and since the dollars continues to increase, a sequel is in development. No karate kicks this time, but a movie that packs a punch nonetheless with relatable characters. Although, there was some controversy because newcomer Henry Golding was chosen to play Nick Young, it was bandied about that he was not “Asian” enough. Constance Wu as Rachel is charming but Awkwafina (Peik Lin) was a breath of fresh air, honest and a true friend. Look out for Ken Jeong as Mr Mun from the Hangover movies.
Good reads rates the book as 3½ stars. Since, I have not read the book, it would be unfair for me to compare the book to the movie but the movie alone, I assure you, is a noteworthy one (and $30 million budget well spent) with a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the rich and famous in fabulously exotic destinations.