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  • The story of a young Asian girl growing up in Britain, Anita and Me will be bracketed with Bend It Like Beckham but is far superior. It's as brilliantly-scripted as About A Boy or Bridget Jones, without any of the advantages that those movies had in terms of budget, glamour and style. Particularly surprising and welcome was the fact that the film didn't feel obliged to smooth out the rough edges, for example by making Anita worthy of Meena's worship. It's this surprising integrity that makes an ostensibly lightweight film into something more substantial. It works on every level and is highly recommended.
  • I thought this was going to be a re-run of yet another East meets West type movie but I was pleasantly surprised and impressed. Based on a novel by Meera Syal who also writes the film's screenplay, it follows the funny but often very moving coming-of-age of Meena, an above-average intelligence girl of Indian family living in a small East Midlands village. She teams up with Anita, the local (white) glam girl tear-away and the movie charts their firm friendship as they struggle individually with adolescence, family difficulties and the racism of peers. This is a wonderful and quite uplifting movie.
  • I went to see this movie because it wasn't Harry Potter or Bond, and I felt I should support the currently subdued British Film industry, but was very glad that I had. One of the best films I've seen so far this year - certainly better than most of the blockbusters so far.

    I found it an excellent film with a nice blend of pathos and belly laughs, the poignant mixed with the comedic. I found Chandeep Uppal, as the lead, Meena, gave an excellent performance and deserves to go onto other things. Many stalwarts of British comedy; Sanjeev Bhaskar, Meera Syal, Kathy Burke, Mark Williams ... also gave solid performances. Of course, having grown up in the area it was set in I found myself identifying with the film more - wondering if the Queen Elizabeth Grammar school was the school I attended with the name changed; wondering if my family was ever part of the 70s Walsall tupperware set.

    My problem came with the screening itself - seeing it on the Wednesday after the Friday release we were on one screen with 2 (evening) screenings on the smallest screen in the cinema (which was incidentally, mainly full). The previous week, I had seen Harry Potter, at about the same time, in the largest screen, and there were probably less than 30 people there, as it had been showing intensively every half an hour (and continues to). Most of the rest of the screens in the cinema were taken up with Bond. Come on British cinemas; push our own homegrown films a bit more - there's a lot of talent there but we've got to be able to see it.
  • I remember seeing Anita & Me because of the appearance of its likable young star, Chandeep Uppal, on The Frank Skinner Show years ago and I couldn't be happier that I did. It has quickly taken the place of my favourite film and, in my opinion, is one of the best films ever made.

    The story follows young Meena Kumar, a girl who would be considered very normal by today's standards, and the life she lives with her parents in Tollington, near Birmingham. I was born in 1988 and am male but still found Meena relatable, likable and, it has to be said, cute (and frankly, some of her expressions are priceless). One seemingly ordinary day, her life is turned upside down by Anita Rutter, played by Anna Brewster. Meena is a brilliant character, with a wise head on young shoulders but one who retains a childlike exuberance. An aspiring writer, Meena pines for some of the breaks that white kids managed to get; upon patronisingly being asked "what do you want to be when you grow up", Meena replies "blonde". Anita & Me is filled with witty lines like this throughout. It has to be said, Anita is less brilliant and nowhere near as likable as the wonderful Meena. From the start, Anita is rather hostile or indifferent to all around her. But then again, you get the feeling she isn't meant to be likable.

    Anita and Meena aren't the only characters, obviously. British viewers will recognise the familiar faces of Meera Syal (whose book was adapted to make the movie), Sanjeev Bhaskar, Omid Djalili and Mark Williams. All give the great performances expected of them although, in my opinion, props still to Chandeep Uppal for her performance as Meena.

    The film is remarkably bittersweet, dealing with racism, friendship, family, education and religion, always seeming very realistic. Over the course of the film, even minor characters get a great deal of characterisation. Local boy Sam begins to question having non-whites in Tollington, burnt-out rocker Ned finds love and local friendly priest Alan may be more than he's letting on. Out of all the issues Anita & Me deals with, some are bound to click with you. How many of us had local legends involving haunted houses or werewolves or, in Tollington's case, a Yeti? How many of us have thought we're destined for bigger things, such as Meena does when she thinks "maybe I'm here by mistake"? And how many worried about getting hair in strange places? And I'm sure all of us have had at least one complicated friendship.

    This is where Anita's ambiguity really comes into its own and, as the film goes on, Meena may be more in touch with her Indian heritage than she realised and her parents may be more comfortable with Britain than they thought. It's part of the joy of Anita & Me to see these relationships and scenarios develop. It's also very uplifting to see a film that is so pro-race, pro-gender and pro-religion. There isn't a race particularly portrayed as "the bad guys". With gender, it's surprising and rather satisfying that the fathers are more lenient while the mothers are more strict and, while the worst racist is male, more women are vocal about their intolerance. And, thankfully, religions are portrayed in a positive light whereas so many lesser films may have resorted to petty jabs and insults that are all too common these days.

    Essentially, Anita & Me is a film I can't recommend highly enough, in the same vein as such indie films as The Breakfast Club, dealing with similar teenage and young adult emotions, and British kitchen sink dramas. It might change your perceptions, make you think or just make you laugh but Anita & Me is that rarest of things; a drama, a comedy and a coming-of-age story all rolled into one.
  • A very good film. Do not come with preconceptions, it is not East is East, Bend it like Beckham. After all you don't expect all movies written about the US or by Americans to be like How the West was won.

    It accurately reflects the times and the attitudes. Nice cast, a bit ham acted in places but otherwise good. The two actors who played Meena and Anita were very good. I cannot understand the comments about the midlands accents, they were where they should have been. The with-it vicar was not out of place mind! The sound track was really good and reminded both me and the wife of our teens.

    OK, a bit pre the Kumars at No 42 but personally I found this to be a very entertaining film. It stands in it's own right.
  • justbob198220 December 2002
    A good film, in my opinion. The jokes might have cheapened the serious, sad parts of the film, or the pathos dampened the humour, but they didn't. The two stood together and complemented one another, much like the main characters. I think the acting was excellent. The film also, I feel, gave me some insight into the lives of Asian people living in the UK both now and in the past.
  • In the small Black Country village Tollington, the Kumars are the only Asian family in the area and are very aware that they have to work twice as hard to get anywhere. However for their daughter Meena, all she wants to do is dream and be popular. Bored with live she gets hooked when she spots the striking blonde Anita. Despite warnings that she's a "bad un", Meena tries to become friends with Anita and, during a sweet shop robbery, they do. However their friendship is not an easy one even if it is the main one of Meena's formative years.

    Having spent the last decade in the English Midlands I must confess that I have yet to do anything but wince when I hear a thick Brummie or Black Country accent; so when this film opened with the characters all speaking in it my initial urge was to switch it off. However I stuck with it and quickly got used to it (in the same way as one gets used to a sore leg, it is never comfortable but you just move on). Told through the eyes of a child, the story has nice touches that might be exaggerated but they help the narrative work. Perhaps it does try too hard to be liked by the audience but it still combines the humour well with a story that becomes more interesting as it goes on. The personal nature of the screenplay means that it is insightful and convincing but it does it with good humour. Huseyin's direction is solid – nothing too special but professional enough to do the job.

    The cast take to the material well. Although I would cross the road to avoid her voice again, Uppal leads the film well; her narration is a bit overused but generally she makes it work. Her actual performance is better and she grows up well across the film. The support cast is deep in talent who mostly do well. Bhaskar, Syal and Djalili are amusing if not totally present for the comedy roots. Dharker is a stunning woman and a good actress – she adds a bit of depth to a simple role. Brewster has less of a character to work with but she is fine for what she is asked to do. Beesley is supposedly a bump to increase investment but doesn't do much more than that. Burke and Williams are OK and add a bit of class to the edges.

    Overall this is quite a nice little film that is greatly helped by the very personal material that comes through well into the script. The cast are mixed but the main ones are good enough to deliver the mix of comedy and convincing drama. The accents are a bit hard to take for the whole 90 minutes but generally I was able to get into the characters and the story enough to be engaging and a little charmed by it.
  • This film based on the part, autobiographical book my Meena Syal is set in Tollington, as rural English village in the seventies. A touching story it deals with Meena (a 12 year old girl whose parents moved to Tollington from India), her life and her friendship with her neighbour Anita.

    Very funny but also very sad at times this movie is excellent. Meena Syal has written the screenplay herself so it stays very true to the book. She also plays a small part (not as Meena) in the film along with others like Kathy Burke (of Harry Enfield fame) Mark Williams (the fast show), and her Goodness Gracious me co-star, Sanjeev Bhaskar. The young actors are also exceptionally good. The actress who plays young Meena is very good and believable with brilliant comic timing, while unfortunately young Anita seemed slightly wooden. Although some may argue the character Anita is meant to be quite stiff so this does not affect the quality of the movie too much. This film fits into the category of films dealing with young people from an Asian heritage (Pakistan, India etc) living in Britain, like 'East is East' and Bend it like Beckham. This film is one of the best out of this genre of film and although similar to East is East is also very different.

    An excellent piece of 21st century film.
  • I find it refreshing to see a film that contains an insight into other cultures.

    I found it had a similar foundation as East is East; if you care to share my feeling of the film, Anita and Me was nice and sweet, while East is East was salty.

    The story is indeed a solid piece of work. It tells the life of a 12-year-old girl living in the East Midlands in 1972, where she is discovering a more advanced way of life - teenage angst in other words.

    The cast were superb - fine piece of acting from those familiar BBC faces. It is such a shame that the film will be forgotten.

    Choose this instead of James Bond (Die Another Day clashes with this at the cinema) - at least you get to see James Bond every Bank Holiday Monday.
  • Anita and me is one of the most beautifully crafted, hilarious, moving and compelling stories i have ever seen on the big screen. it is a beautiful tale of two young girls who struggle to grow up in a mining village in the 70s. it is without a doubt the greatest movie to come from Britain in a very long time. unlike its counterparts bend it like beckham and east is east. it remains hilarious yet looks head on at some of the grim issues going on in the 70's such as racial abuse and family conflict. often avoided by many movie makers. it is also unlike many of the other bad 70s flashback films. there is a wide variety of elements where you can look and say to yourself... i remember when that record came out! or i remember when my parents used to make me change into play clothes after school! or that time when me and my friend stole a load of sweets from the village shop and blamed it on my niece! not only do i recommend it for people who remember the golden age that was the 70s, but i recommend it for a lot of young women who struggle with the day to day struggles of being a teenager, falling out with friends, wondering why you cant get a boyfriend etc. strongly recommend this film for when you are feeling down or sad. i guarantee it will make you smile!
  • Anita & Me is a slight but charming film of an Asian girl growing up in the early 1970s in the village of Tollington in the Black country.

    This itself gives the film an unusual aspect as we rarely see drama of Asian people living in the country. Its usually a metropolis such as Birmingham, London or Manchester.

    Meena is a Punjabi girl who likes telling stories, she is already experiencing a cultural clash with her parents as she does not like speaking Punjabi and has little interest in what her parents want for her.

    She starts a friendship with Anita a more flighty girl popular with the boys but her parents disapprove of Anita and her friendship leads to an act of casual racism.

    Its an ensemble piece with quirky characters in the village, plenty of 1970s rock songs, dashing of nostalgia and some light humour. All the characters lack depth in this slice of life story.
  • Over the weekend, I watched this movie for the first time again in just over twelve years - which in itself is scary and rather heartbreaking, I can tell you.

    I watched this for the first time in the cinema, when I was seventeen and, myself having been immersed in different cultures and feeling very much like an outsider in both these places at different times for different reasons, I found it incredibly easy to sympathise with Meena. It's quite easy to see the young Meera Syal and feel a lot of her pain and confusion, as well as get soaked up in her dreams almost as much as she is! It pays off when you knows what really becomes of her in real life!

    Having watched this again recently, I've earned a whole new level of respect for this film, because Syal has deliberately and exceptionally painted a picture meant for both struggling teenagers who are at their most painful stages, and adults who are reflecting on how different and seemingly better things used to be.

    This time on watching, I found myself empathising and actually properly listening to the adults characters a lot more. A lot has changed since I was seventeen! But they are as padded as they need to be. The Mother and Father are characters whom one cannot help but almost cry for in their own isolation, entirely different but just as easy to sympathise with as their daughter. The recognisable characters in the mad 'Auntie' and somewhat shrewed-over Uncle including, I sadly hasten to add, the prejudiced and narrow-minded neighbours and community made it feel as if one were almost looking back at one's own photo album...

    It also has something rather important that is often overlooked these days in there, as one of its main subjects - the first love that one ever has, that isn't a sexual love or necessarily for a member of the opposite sex. It's that somewhat Greek idea, now at least, of falling completely head over heels for someone because they are everything that you wish you could be, and you spend time with them because you want to be them too. I think this is mostly overlooked in books AND films these days sadly, as it's always turned into something seedy, even when it is between juveniles, as that is when it usually naturally occurs. It's very bold and lovely to see this, and to see it portrayed so beautifully and poetically as well.

    It is a coming-of-age film at different times in my life for me!

    Also, what a marvellous score! Having remembered how great it was, I've been listening to it on Youtube while working all this week thus far!

    Accents a bit dodgy here and there, but that's probably to be expected when it is set in a very specific location and with some great talent from all over the country - what am I saying? The world! - here and there.

    I can't wait to see how I feel about it watching it in another twelve years, but I don't suspect my love for it will be dulled at all.
  • The main character of "Anita and Me" is Meena Kumar, a young girl of Asian descent living in the Black Country mining village of Tollington. (The Black Country is an industrial area in the English Midlands, north and west of Birmingham). The film is based upon the best-selling autobiographical novel by Meera Syal, who grew up in a village like the one portrayed here. Syal herself has a small role as Meena's aunt, while her real-life husband Sanjeev Bhaskar plays Meena's father. The film has some similarities with another British film from 2002, "Bend it Like Beckham", which also dealt with the friendship between an Asian girl and a white girl. One difference, however, is that while "Bend it Like Beckham" has a contemporary setting, "Anita and Me" is a period piece set in 1972 which lovingly recreates the look and feel of the early seventies. Numerous pop songs from the period feature on the soundtrack.

    Meena's family are the only Asians living in Tollington- indeed, the only non-white people living there- although they occasionally get together with a group of friends from Birmingham to try and keep their Asian culture alive. Meena, however, has little interest in Asian culture. Her two great ambitions are to have a short story published in "Jackie" (a magazine which had a huge readership among teenage girls at this time) and to be accepted by "the wenches", a gang of girls led by the glamorous blonde Anita, Meena's neighbour and best friend. ("Wench" is a dialect word for girl, largely obsolete in standard English but still used in parts of northern and central England).

    Racism is endemic in the village, and the family are not always made welcome by the local people, many of whom casually make reference to "pakis" and "wogs". Prejudice, however, is a two-way street, and in private the Kumars and their friends make disparaging comments about white people and their culture. When Meena, reasonably enough, asks her father why he came to live in England if he dislikes English people so much, he cannot really give her an answer other than "You're too young to understand". He is also given to reminiscing about the part he claims to have played in the Indian independence movement, even though he would have been (at most) a teenager when India gained its independence in 1947.

    The differences between the Kumars and their neighbours, however, are as much social as racial. Meena's parents are educated middle-class professionals, which sets them apart from the predominantly working-class villagers. Their main reason for moving to the village was that it lies within the catchment area of a prestigious grammar school, to which they hope Meena will win a scholarship. They have little sympathy with Meena's aspirations to be a writer (they hope she will take up a solid professional career like medicine or accountancy), and even less sympathy with her friendship with Anita and the "wenches", whom they see as vulgar. The grammar of the title may reflect this social divide; Meena's parents and the teachers at Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School would doubtless prefer her to use the more formal "Anita and I", but she sticks to the less grammatical form used by most of the villagers. It is notable that Meena, like Anita and the other local people but unlike her parents, speaks with a strong Black Country accent.

    The tone of the film becomes for a time more serious when an Asian man is beaten up by a gang of white youths. It transpires that Anita's boyfriend was involved, and when Anita makes it clear that she is standing by him, Meena has to decide where her loyalties lie. Most of the time, however, the tone is fairly light and humorous, with some great comic characters. There are amusing cameos from Lynn Redgrave as the obstinately prejudiced local shopkeeper Mrs Ormerod and from Mark Williams as the middle-aged Methodist minister who tries to be trendy but ends up as simply embarrassing, patronising the young people by his attempts to speak to them in what he fondly imagines to be teenage lingo.

    One or two of the Asian characters struck me as a bit exaggerated, especially Meena's eccentric, sword-wielding grandmother, and I wasn't too impressed with some of the colour photography. At times it seemed as though the film had been shot using a camera lens that had accidentally been smeared with marmalade. On the whole, however, I enjoyed the film, especially the very natural performances from two local girls, Anna Brewster as the sluttish Anita and Chandeep Uppal as the delightful young Meena. This was an amusing comedy with a few serious points to make about racial identity and social class. And as I would have been around Meena's age in 1972 it also provided me with a nostalgic trip back to my own past. 7/10
  • Warning: Spoilers
    i thought this film had a great sense of humour. It wasn't heavy or over acted. i thought how nice it was to watch a simple English film for once - not a predictable American film. don't get me wrong American films are great but i think its good we Brit's have some good English movies. I loved the way the writer over exaggerated parts, it made it more fun too watch! don't be so harsh on this film!!

    the accents were funny and the camera sepia lens was a nice touch too. my class watched it for cultures work and it got the point across.

    SPOILER:

    My class laughed through out especially at the granny and the sword bit oh my god- that was a nice touch!! Although it was predictable i found myself wanting to watch the rest which is good sign!
  • Having lived in the Black Country for over 30 years (which is in the West Midlands, not the East as some commentators state), I looked forward to this film as a huge fan of East is East, Bend it like Beckham and the cast of Goodness Gracious Me and The Kumars at no. 42. The plot was thin and predictable, the acting was patchy and many of the excellent jokes were lost in poor delivery. The accents were good, particularly from Kathy Burke who obviously took the time to study Black Country as opposed to Birmingham accents. Some of the other accents were forced, Lynn Redgrave's being perhaps the worse, as was her over-acting. An opportunity seemed to be missed to develop some of the supporting characters such as the various appalling neighbours and the wonderful grandmother. The message coming across seemed to be that white families are dysfunctional, religiously hypocritical and miserable, while Asian families have a few problems but are loving and full of fun - far too simplistic. Puzzling plot devices:- What was the "Yeti" all about? Who was he, where did he come from, why was he there and what happened after? What was the point of the Motorway? I have a feeling that the novel (which I have not yet read) will explain some of this but that is not really good enough for a film to be able to stand alone. Perhaps it was a mistake for Meera Syal to be a producer and actor having been the author as well. It sometimes needs a detatched producer to be able to see the problems. Here in Australia the film has not received many good reviews, but this may be predictable in the current political climate. Most Australians also find the accents impenetrable! Believe me, I really wanted to like it, but was bitterly disappointed.
  • This is one of these gentle, tender, coming-of-age movies that raises the odd smile but is really pretty unremarkable. I can't speculate as to the degree in which it is semi-autobiographical of writer Meera Syal's own upbringing; but it centres around the story of a young British Asian girl "Meena" (Chandeep Uppal) whose family live in a town in the Midlands of England where she has to do her own growing up against a background of boredom and innate racial hostility. When the "Rutter" family move in next door, she is impressed by "Anita" (Anna Brewster) despite her being a bit rough around the edges and we head off on a journey of sweet shops, sex and self-discovery. It has a good ensemble cast including Kathy Bates and Sanjeev Bhaskar to help keep it ticking over, but it's just too safe - not that it needs violence or bad language; but it's just a little too worthy a film to stay in the memory after it's done. It wouldn't be fair to describe it as boring; but it's not far off.
  • This film is way too pleased with itself and it really shouldn't be. It's such a dull little story that should never have been turned into a film. Supposed to be a comedy, but not in the slightest bit funny. Just seems like Meera Syal felt her autobiography was far more interesting and funny than it actually is, so got it made into this piece of tat. Don't bother.
  • I must declare I have some "Black Country Bias" when watching this hidden gem. Rarely do I find a novel adapted into a movie that makes me want to read the novel - but this one is such a one.

    The performances are heartfelt and genuine. Ayesha Dharker is a complete standout too. She oozes out that motherly magnetism, whilst retaining that air of individuality. Ayesha typifies the wholesome nature of the entire cast.

    I'm late to this one, I admit, but watching it from a struggling United States in 2018 on 9/11 is by no means a coincidence i feel. The undertones of tolerance and respect for each other are both playfully and seriously dealt with in this master piece. Yes!! I called it a "master piece" - because it's deserving of that title. Would love to have watched the stage adaptation too - and maybe one day I will.

    Kudos to everyone involved in this. Open your hearts and your souls and hit "play". You won't regret it.
  • Brought this film because I watched it at school for an English Exam and I enjoyed it. I definitely recommend this film to others
  • I had high expectations following "My Beautiful Laundrette", "Bend it like Beckham" and (less so) "East is East". The histories of British Asians fitting into their adopted home has had many good runs on the big screen, as well as a number of excellent TV and radio series (Goodness gracious me, etc). This one falls flat. Inspite of a good start it rapidly went down hill.

    Ultimately this was a horribly typical BBC effort, complete with strong regional accents, whacky over-acting characters, a "those were the days" soundtrack, and lots of "issues" in an attempt to be worthy.

    I found myself cringing at many points during this film. The writing is predictable. Every possible cliche was dragged out and aired. In fact, I have trouble thinking of any cross-cultural/cross-generational devices that could have been used that weren't. The characters were thin and cliched: the eccentric non-conformist minister; the well meaning but ultimately racist old woman; the over weight, overbearing aunt; the pushy Indian parents; the working class neighbour; the 'wise' profound grandmother; the motorbike riding thug. The script was weak, with every chance to shock the audience with overt racist dialogue from the two dimentional racist white characters taken. And why it had to be set in the 70's (apart from needing an excuse for a 70's soundtrack) is a mystery. Possibly it make unbelievable characters slightly more believable to people born after 1979. I don't know.

    Even these things aside, good acting could have carried this into respectable obscurity. Instead, the usual "BBC comedy" suspects were wheeled out to ham it up. "Bend it like Beckham" had far better comic acting (and serious acting, in fact) than this, with a virtually unknown cast.

    In summary, a lazy cliched script, over acted, in a dull predictable story. Give it a miss.
  • 'Anita and Me' is a drama about growing up in multi-ethnic Britain, rather like 'Bend it Like Beckham', or more closely, 'East is East', with which it shares a 1970s setting. The tone is resolutely chirpy (in spite of the dour Black Country accents), but the film lacks 'East is East's vigour and the result seems rather thin and trite. Moreover, the portrayal of the film's central relationship, between an Asian girl and her white friend, is insufficiently deep to justify the way that the movie is structured around it. I have also grown tired of films where the hero years to be a writer, this is naturally often something that real writers have experienced, but hardly a fresh element in a fictional story. 'East is East' was fun and sharp; 'Anita and Me' seems obvious and dull in comparison.
  • I came at this film being very optimistic, to me it was unheard of, and I was unsure as to who was in it, but despite this I gave it ago after hearing that it was the next 'East Is East', but it literally is the next 'East Is East'. If you have seen either 'East Is East' or 'Bend It Like Beckham' you know the basic plot for this film, it is half comedy and half drama (with nothing new really being brought to either of them). The two young girls in the film are very good (Chandeep Uppal is excellent as Meena) in their roles and you do feel for Meena and Anita by the time the film is finished, but this still isn't enough to provide absolute satisfaction.

    It comes down to the fact that if you have seen either of the two forenamed films you probably won't enjoy this film as fully as it was intended. Don't get me wrong this is a good film, with moments of laughter and moments of sorrow but you do feel let down at the fact that they still couldn't be original, and that it's just another film in the collection of english/indian films that is ever increasing. If you want a film that provides a few laughs but still has a bit of heart to it, go and see this film you will enjoy it, just don't go expecting anything great, you will be let down.

    Overall 6/10
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Meera Syal's novel, Anita And Me, is a rather pedestrian attempt at a coming of age story in a British village in 1972. Meena Kumar is from a Punjabi family that left India for Great Britain, just as Syal's parents did prior to her birth. Meena experiences the typical things of young adolescence, such as ethnic slurs, wanting to distance herself from her parents and culture, and wanting to be popular, etc. The two young leads are nothing special as the girls, and that is the biggest problem. The supporting characters are far more interesting, from Meena's own family, the neighbors, and other town folk. The soundtrack doesn't do the film justice either, as it is mostly muted in the background or loud and overbearing at brief moments. Still, there are several funny, laugh out loud moments involving Meena. Eventually, Meena and her friend have a falling out, and Meena publishes a short story and moves away to attend a prestigious school. In the end, it's education that gets one ahead in life, not teenage popularity or fitting in. The film tries to be both semi-serious and humorous simultaneously; it's interesting to a certain point, but it drags eventually. Ultimately, it's a disappointment considering what it could have been. **1/2 of 4 stars.
  • A lot of people have compared this movie to Bend It Like Beckham, but I personally think that it's a lot better! This movie really is nice, and can make you laugh, and cry. It also helps you to understand how serious prejudice can be.

    I don't think Chandeep Uppal is a particularly good actress though, which ruined the movie a little bit, but Ayesha Dharker and Sanjeev Bhaskar were both brilliant. I liked Anna Brewster, though her accent got a little annoying, and was a little difficult to understand.

    I applaud Meera Syal on a brilliant novel and screenplay, because the storyline is brilliant. The only other criticism I have about this film is that it wasn't long enough, and had a strange ending.
  • greenwood-alex30 June 2008
    Warning: Spoilers
    Anita and Me seems to be little more than an excuse for Meera Syal, the author of the novel and screenplay, to air her prejudices, grievances and general antipathy towards the English. The general sentiment of Indian superiority over the English in this film is foul.

    The English people in this film are portrayed as overweight, violent, foul-mouthed, promiscuous, engaging in child neglect, stupid, uneducated, racist, ugly, eating poor food, and dim-witted -- tellingly, only by turning to Indian culture can the local priest be "redeemed" at the end of the film.

    By contrast, the Indian family are beautiful, clever, educated, can speak many languages, are caring and loving parents, and grammar-school fodder. The film is so insidiously prejudicial that I am astonished the BBC funded it at all. Had it been the other way round, an English family in an Indian community depicted this way, the film would have been seen as racist.

    There were a few moments where my eyebrow shot so far up my forehead, I thought it would lodge in my hairline. First, the gossip scene between the women at the Divali celebration -- undertext: the English are dirty and promiscuous -- and the men -- undertext: English women are prostitutes. Second, the meal with Anita where Neema's family lie to her about cutlery -- undertext: the English are so stupid, you can make them do anything.

    But the underlying contempt towards anything English -- even English weddings are an object of scorn -- is evident all the way through the film. The character of Anita was drawn so appallingly -- almost the fallen woman trope -- that I finished the film feeling angry.

    This is not a "Bend it like Beckham" where the humour is focused on loving exaggerations of a community's behaviour and customs from somebody within that community, and is a film about two girls from different backgrounds coming together. Instead, Anita and Me seems to convey that a form of cultural apartheid is inevitable, as the English are almost an version of the Indian Untouchable caste, and this is underscored by a thinly-veiled series of attacks upon the film's "other" community: the English.

    I felt Anita and Me is a hate-filled, grievance-based piece of work. On that basis, the BBC should not have funded its production.
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