March 21, 2008

Billo: La Gran Dakhar

Billo: The Great African Immigrant

This is a sweet Italian movie on cultural relativism I watched in Siri Fort Auditorium last week. The protagonist is a black from Senegal who comes to Italy to make some money. Sounds like one of the other stories on immigration and yes it is. The difference about this movie is the clear portrayal of two very different cultures.

The story starts with the protagonist's coming to Italy and the problems he faces there, including job related issues and police harassment, temptation to do illegal activities etc. Parallel to this the movie shows his life in Senegal prior to his coming to Italy. After a while, the story takes a light and jocular turn when he falls in love with an Italian girl and she becomes pregnant with his baby. Problem is, there is another girl back in Senegal with whom he was attached -right from his childhood -and he couldn't just give her up.

So he goes back to Senegal, marries the girl (the marriage ceremony is a cool portrayal of African marriages I hadn't got to see anywhere outside Nat Geo before) and comes back. But he has to resolve the dilemma. His teacher comes to his help, saying that as a Muslim he can have as much as four wives. So he goes back and proposes the Italian girl. She knows of his first wife, hence deliberates on it (this part is light comedy) and finally agrees to marry him. Her friend tells her "You are only the second" at the marriage...

The movie is worth a watch for the visual stimulation this comparison of two cultures gives.

No comments: