It was difficult to tell from your video review whether Million Dollar Arm was just another white savior story. On the one hand you used the horrendous phrase “taste of curry” or “touch of curry” and on the other you lamented that the movie was not enough about its Indian characters.
Please never use any phrases involving curry to describe Indian people. I recommended that review to my Indian father before I saw it. It’s embarrassing.
Million Dollar Arm is the opposite of a white-savior movie. The white guy is the one in need of salvation. The Indians are spiritual, grounded, family-oriented, decent people — to a patronizing, exotically-other degree.
“Taste of curry” here refers not to Indian people, but to the presence of Indian settings and culture in what would otherwise be a white-bread movie about a peanuts-and-crackerjacks sport in a hot-dogs-and-apple-pie world.
See what I did there?
Food metaphors can offer a convenient cultural shorthand, a special advantage when time or space is at a premium (as it is in a 60 second review). An earlier draft of that review — drawing on elements of Indian culture and experience in the film — referred to a “land of endless traffic jams, the Taj Mahal and cricket,” but that turned out to be way too much verbiage.
For better or worse, curry connotes India-ness to Westerners. I was aware that it’s a tired metaphor that some Indians might object to. I wouldn’t quite say my usage was ironic, but I would say I used it advisedly, to suggest something about how India is used in a very American Disney film.
In other words, for the purposes of this film, the Indian context provides what is expressed in the phrase “a taste of curry” — and if you wince at the phrase, well, that may be indicative of the level of the filmmakers’ interest in India!
That’s a subtlety I don’t necessarily expect viewers to pick up on, but as I say, you’re limited in what you can do in under 60 seconds.
P.S. Now I’m reminded how in my review of Saving Mr. Banks I remarked that Tom Hanks’ Walt Disney and Emma Thompson’s P.L. Travers went together “like apple pie and, oh, liver and onions.”
That was a particularly interesting food metaphor to me, because apple pie evokes not just Americanness, but comfort, familiarity and sweetness, like Mr. Disney’s entertainments at the time.
For Travers, I wanted something that wasn’t comforting or sweet, something somehow intimidating, but in a good-for-you way, that many but by no means all people would find off-putting, that wouldn’t necessarily go with apple pie — and, of course, that was identifiably British. Liver and onions fit the bill.
So far no British readers have objected to this analogy. If they do, I’ll reply that I didn’t mean liver and onions to stand for Britishness generally — just Thompson’s very British P.L. Travers!