_ v DRAMA
l l l
Buddha wouldn’t melt
Sex, al fresco or otherwise, looms large in Hanif Kureishi’s The Buddha Of Suburbia and isn’t entirely absent from the TV adaptation. But, asks Philip Parr, did they really have to listen to Ummagumma?
With Michael and Mona’s sexual and verbal gyrations still fresh in the mind following the airing of Tales OfThe City, we seem to be in 70s retro mode
once again. BBC2 is doing its level best to keep up (or slink back) with a
dramatisation of Hanif Kureishi’s debut ?
novel The Buddha 0f Suburbia.
Having flirted with direction in the feature film, London Kills Me, Kureishi has wisely returned to what he does best, writing the screenplay, and has left the filmmaking to others. Plenty of Kureishi’s crushing one-liners remain intact from the novel, with just the occasional bout of swearing removed for the delicate ears of the TV audience.
The rampant physicality (some would say vulgarity) of the novel has also been toned down for the new medium. Instead of witnessing an al fresco ‘good fuck, but hurried,’ as described in the book, we see Naveen Andrews as Kureishi’s autobiographical hero Karim, and his girlfriend indulging in some pretty innocuous petting. In a similarly bowdlen'sed scene, Karim’s dad, the Buddha of the title, is having it away with his mistress while his class of enlightenment seekers meditate on the meaning of life. All good dirty fun, except that in the book Eva, the mistress, has had a mastectomy and in the TV version, she hasn’t. 1n the novel, both Eva and her Buddha are seen as alien, almost sub-human. That’s how the ‘normal’ inhabitants of Bromley are able to cope with their ‘weirdness’. So is the BBC shirking
one of the book’s major themes for fear of causing offence?
‘Speaking personally, I think that Hanif sometimes has a tendency to be a bit over-rich in his story-telling,’ explains Kevin Loader, the serial's producer. ‘What might work well in a novel sometimes does not translate well to the screen, and 1 think that was the case here. As for the scene in the park,
5 it was written as taking place in
midsummer, but we had to film it in
midwinter and it was too bloody cold.’
Are these evasion tactics by an uncharacteristically coy BBC drama producer? Surely he does really want all the sex so beloved of BBC2, especially when given such raw raw material as this. Episode Two delivers more, with the camera lingering over Karim in all his glory in a bath, and Karim and his best friend Jamila enjoying each other’s company while her husband looks on.
A British version of Tales Of The City this most certainly is: sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll in a time when all three
5 could be enjoyed with (literally on
occasion) gay abandon. In addition to the grimness of 70s suburbia there is another aspect of the drama which places it firmly in sarf London rather than San Fran — the music. Our lads begin with Ummagumma, progress through Steve Harley and Bowie before stumbling joyfully on the Pistols. Bowie provides more than background bedroom noise in fact. Working for BBC rates, and behaving suspiciously like Mark Knopﬂer, Bowie has written all of the incidental music and donated a theme song.
‘David went to the same school as Hanif,’ says Loader, ‘and he was something of a hero to those who were in the know, and Hanif was certainly one of those. He got a nice album out of it, but we could never have expected him to do as much as he did. We had a blast picking the other music, and it’s quite interesting that it all turned out to be British. Things were happening here, and while there was a hangover from the 60s, ideologically, culturally and in every other way, by the mid-70s punk had come along and killed all that once and for all. Thank God.’
The Buddha 0f Suburbia begins on BBC2 on Wednesday 3 November at 9pm.
We clear the VHS decks with a round-up ot the video releases heading tor the shops this fortnight.
I Just One lit The Girls (15) Tawdry teen pulp stuff starring unlikely pin- up Corey Haim. He plays college nerd Chris Calder who hits on a novel way of avoiding the local bully — he disguises himself as the college’s cutest new babe. Unlikely sub- Porkies visual gags and misunderstandings ensue. (20:20 Vision)
I Brainsmasher (15) Controversial offensive comedian Andrew ‘Dice’ Clay stars in a moderately braindead Terminator spoof. He plays a macho superhero with a fondness for cute blonde babes, taking on a gang of deadly stereotyped Chinese ninjas. (Columbia Tristar) I The last oays Ct Chez llous (15) Australian director Gillian Armstrong offers a bittersweet tale of sibling rivalry in an eccentric Sydney family. Vicki (Kerry Fox) comes to stay with her elder sister Beth (Lisa Harrow) whose marriage to a shallow Frenchman is on shaky ground. Soon Vicki makes it even shakier. (Tartan) I Sworn To Vengeance (18) A true-life murder tale about the search for the killer of three teenagers found butchered beside a river (in Waco Texas interestingly enough). Robert Conrad plays Sergeant lack Stewart who swears an oath to track down the killers. (Odyssey)
I The Church (18) All the standard horror ingredients — satanism, zombies, human sacriﬁces and sex with dubious goat-like creatures - are present and correct in Dario Argento‘s screamingly melodramatic religious horror set around a Gothic cathedral with a sinister past. (Reﬂective) I leprechaun (15) A spectacularly daft horror comedy tale certain to offend anybody of Irish extraction concerns a vengeful leprechaun pursuing his stolen pot of gold. Begorrah and similar Oirishry. (Reﬂective)
I Rich In love (15) (Warner)
I ladybugs (PG) (Warner)
I South Central LA (15) (Warner)
I Waterdance (15) (20:20 Vision)
I All Shook Up (15) (20:20 Vision)
I love Field (15) (Columbia Tristar)
I Jonathan: The Boy llohody Wanted (PG) (Odyssey)
I Deep Cover (18) (First Independent £10.99)
I The Avengers Box-Set (PG) The cult 60s drama crime Spoof hits VHS at long last. with the ﬁrst batch in an ongoing scheme to release all 162 episodes. The early episodes feature Patrick MacNee as the suave. bowler-batted Steed, with Honor Blackman as gorgeous sidekick Cathy Gale. (Lumiere three-tape set £34.99)
I Cinema Paradiso (PG) A wide-screen version of Guiseppe Tomatore’s classic tale of a small ltalian town's cinema, where the projectionist Philippe Noiret is the idol of young frlm buff Toto (Salvatore Cascio). (Tartan £15.99)
I Pandora‘s Box (PG) (Tartan £15.99)
I Wild Strawberries (15) Ingmar Bergman’s acclaimed long-winded depiction of the memories. dreams and nightmares of an elderly doctor is lavishly packaged in a limited edition box set containing the original screenplay including over 100 production stills. (Tartan £21.99)
I Jamon Jamon (18) (Tartan £15.99)
I J’Emhrasse Pas (18) (Tartan £15.99)
I la Grande Illusion (PG) (Tartan £15.99)
I The Player(15) (Polygram £12.99)
lllE $Mlll 0i lJrJr“/ (J!)
I The Smell 0i Reeves And Mortimer - Blue (12) With the series still brightening up your screens, Vic and Bob are rush released on tape, with some previously unseen material, including the legendary lost ‘Uncle
Peter’ session. (BBC £12.99)
I The Smell 0i Reeves And Mortimer - lied (12) (BBC £12.99)
I lily Savage live (18) More off-colour comedy from the Kirkby housewife superstar and her imaginative repertoire of uses for a Hoover attachment. (Paradox £12.99)
I Tom And Jerry The Movie (U) (First Independent £12.99)
I The Cutting Edge (PG)
(Warner/MGM £10.99) I Enter The Dragon (18) (Warner £12.99)
I Buffy The Vampire Slayer (15) (Fox £10.99) I Alien 3 (18) (Fox £12.99)
I The Beano Video (U) (Polygram £9.99)
I A league (it Their Cum (PG) (Columbia Tristar
I Knightrnoves (18) (Columbia Tristar £10.99) I Bingo (PG) (Columbia Tristar £10.99)
I Men 0i Respect ( 18) (Columbia Tristar £7.99) I Article 99 (15) (Columbia Tristar £7.99) I The Page Must Die (15) (Columbia Tristar £7.99) I Mortal Thoughts (18) (Columbia Tristar £7.99) I Cronnuell (PG) (Columbia Tristar £10.99) I Toy Soldiers (15) (Columbia Tristar £10.99) I The Finest Hour (15) (Columbia Tristar £10.99) I The Young Ones/Summer Holiday (U) (Warner £12.99) I Wonderful lite/Take Me I'Ilgll (U) (Warner £12.99)
I The Jungle Book (U) (Buena Vista £14.99)
I lawnmower Man - The Director’s Cut ( 15) (First Independent £12.99)
I llouse Party 2 (15) (First independent £10.99)
I Scoohy lloo (U) (First Independent £8.99)
I Top Cat (U) (First Independent £8.99)
The List 22 October—4 November 1993 77