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Bhaji on the Beach (1993)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Birmingham. The Saheli Women's Centre, run by Simi, organises a trip to Blackpool. Among the day-trippers are Ginder, a young mother who has taken sanctuary in Simi's shelter after being physically abused by her husband Ranjit; her six-year-old son Amrik; Hashida, a student about to start medical school, who has discovered she is pregnant; Asha, a middle-aged newsagent with a university degree, who feels neglected by her husband and children and frustrated by unfulfilled personal aspirations; Ladhu and Madhu, a pair of sexually inexperienced teenagers; Pushpa, an elderly Indian housewife and grocer; Rekha, a glamorous visitor from Bombay who has time to spare during her husband?s business trips to London; and Bina, a shop assistant in Marks and Spencer.

Urged on by his parents, Ranjit sets off in pursuit of the Saheli minibus. He is accompanied by his two brothers, the aggressively macho Balbir (who procures Ginder's whereabouts by physically intimidating the other young wives at the Centre), and the more compassionate Manjit. Also chasing the minibus is Oliver, a West Indian art student, who has had a secret sexual relationship with Hashida. Having originally rejected Hashida's pregnant plight, he has been urged on by his father and personal remorse to try and help her through the crisis. Meanwhile Asha continues to be troubled by visions, often of a religious nature, during which she loses track of time and place.

After a racist verbal attack at a motorway service station, the women arrive safely in Blackpool. However, when Hashida's pregnancy becomes an open secret, she abruptly separates from the group. Unable to contact Oliver, she visits an abortion advice centre.

Ginder begins to relax, but her anxieties are reawakened when Amrik goes missing. Although she finds him relatively easily, unknown to her, Ranjit has caught up with them and is planning to confront her later in the day.

During one of her trances, Asha walks into the sea and is rescued by a charming Blackpool thespian, Ambrose Waddington, who takes Asha on a tour of the town, culminating in a visit to a vacant theatre. Ladhu and Madhu have a fling with a couple of burger-sellers, and the whole group (minus Hashida, who is reunited with Oliver) rendezvous at a nightclub where they find themselves part of the audience participation act of three male strippers. When one of them accidentally undresses Ginder and reveals her bruises, the women leave hastily, only to be confronted by Ranjit and his brothers. Failing to dissuade Ginder verbally, he is reduced to using physical force to abduct Amrik. When Manjit refuses to open the door of the getaway car, Ranjit is forced away by the women and Asha chastises him for his behaviour. When Balbir tries to intervene, Manjit floors him with a punch. Driving out of a nocturnally illuminated Blackpool, the women comfort Ginder and Amrik.

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