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#OffTheMark: Gurinder Chadha’s Desi Rascals – A Viewer’s Assessment

I had not heard much about ‘Desi Rascals’ until I came across its listing whilst scrolling the “recommended” section of a TV guide.

At first glance, the show looked promising – a collaboration between award-winning director Gurinder Chadha of ‘Bend it like Beckham’ fame and Tony Wood, the man behind the often-voyeuristic ‘The Only Way Is Essex’ (TOWIE). 

Despite my usual aversion to reality TV, I decided to record the show.

Appropriately enough, I sat down to watch the first episode armed with a curry and a vodka tonic. 

I was a little confused at first as I felt like we were tuned in to the third or fourth episode as opposed the season premiere (I even double-checked to make sure). 

It took a while to understand the accents and the posturing but as I concentrated it became a wee bit better.  The reason I don’t like reality TV is due the fact that an overwhelming majority of shows of the genre feature characters who are invariably self-obsessed and, to put it plainly, apparently lacking in the brains department. 

If the remit of the show was to meet these two criteria, ‘Desi Rascals’ hits the nail on the head.

As they introduced some of the main characters I was convinced that each one was denser than the last.

Apparently the cast members were selected to showcase the diversity of the dynamic, ambitious and wealthy British Asian community in the UK.

Really?  I’m not so sure that it does.  Big fat Indian weddings and gym junkies on celluloid are so passé. 

Sunjay Vara looked positively deranged and maniacal.  His brother Prakash is only marginally better.  Their parents looked a little forced and uncomfortable as if they were given a script to read.

Prakash’s bride Shreena Patel and the other young ladies were the stereotypical British Asian girl – self-obsessed, arrow-straight hair and on a seemingly eternal quest to find the right balance between being ‘British’ and ‘Asian’.

The parents were not so bad except for Manoj Shah who for some strange reason kept pushing his girls to find a boyfriend/husband.

Then there were some random single men – all bodybuilders and models who clearly work out their brawns more than their brains. 

At least if they were eye candy it would have been tolerable…which unfortunately they were not!

After watching the first episode I felt completely drained from the tedious and inane conversations.

Director Chadha’s ‘Bend it Like Beckham’ has a timeless charm and characters that anyone – be they British, British Asian or Asian migrant – could empathize and sympathize with. 

However, I couldn’t connect with a single member of the Desi Rascals cast.

Is it because I’m a first gen Asian and I can’t seem to identify with the British Asians who don’t seem to have an identity of their own? 

In their effort to be accepted they have combined the worst of all cultures.

Perhaps this is a little harsh.  These people are not, after all, professional actors so it must have been a little awkward and I’m willing to give them a little more time.  So instead of deleting the series link from my planner, I’m going to watch a few more episodes and see if there is some humanity in any of them. 

As for first impressions: all I can say is that a precious hour of my life was wasted. 

Thank god for the vodka tonic.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author.

{module Thanu Kurien – Author }



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