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After Watching The  Hysterically Successful Crazy Rich Asians,  Subhash  K Jha Is Glad It Was Banned In India

I’ve often  wondered how the super-rich live,  though I’ve never been curious enough to attend  one of their parties . After seeing Crazy Rich Asians, I am glad  I an neither crazy nor rich,  though  proud to be an Asian.

 But hang on, this  film,an extended  orgy of  upper-crust celebrations, designer clothes and shallow emotions, doesn’t have a  single  Indian character. The people populating  the canvas of  shimmering shindigs  are   sinfully affluent  Chinese who wear their wealth on the sleeves(and  much of anywhere  else )  effortlessly. The super-rich Chinese  hero Nick Young(played with  foamy finesse by Henry Golding  who has never acted before)  lives in America and has a girlfriend Rachel Chu(Constance Young) of modest means.

Now here’s the  thing. Rachel doesn’t know how wealthy  Nick is. (Hard to believe. Where did she think all the expensive  gifts were coming from?) .She only gets to find out he is a billionaire  after he takes her to Singapore for his  best friend’s wedding.

What  unfolds in  Singapore is an orgy of hedonism with the director   John M Chu closing in  on objects  of  obscene luxury as though he  were tracking down the  symptoms  of   a rare diseases known as  Opulencia. My word for excessive wealth and not enough time to enjoy it.

Nick  does have a lot of time to  indulge in his  wealth, though. He revels in the  riches, as though  to the  manor born. The untrained  actor playing Nick is  every inch the  suave eligible millionaire. He talks of his wealth with just the right  mix of flippancy and  arrogance.  But the  film and its  premise of The Prince & The Showgirl(I missed the wise butler, though there is  giggly  patriarch) just seems like an inflated attempt to trap audiences into a state of stuporous splendor.

 There are so many young people  out there who are bound  to wonder what  it would be like to be Nick Young, or to marry  a Nick Young.Either way, Crazy Rich Asians is a deliriously rudderless ode to  illimitable  prosperity. The  characters are all extravagantly rich. Or  wannabe rich , like the heroine’s best friend(played by the quirky Awkwafina) who sees nothing wrong in marrying  into wealth and unabashedly enjoys her best friend’s boyfriend’s  luxury.

 At  least this  character is  honest  about her hedonistic  yearnings. The heroine  Rachel is a simpering portrait of workingclassrighteousness who flutters her eyeleashes at her unspeakably rich boyfriend’s lifestyle and runs up the spiralling  staircase  in his mansion when  his mother(the formidable  Michalle Yeoh)  insults her.

“You can  never be  one  of us,” says the mother to her son’s chosen life partner.

 Yes, the rich mother actually mouths this  old-as-the-hills line which every rich parent in Bollywood cinema has hurled at  their wealthy  scion’s  middleclass  love-interest.

Come to think of it,  Crazy Rich Asians is  an unabashed Bollywood ripoff. It  conveys the shallow drama of wealthied frisson that we see in Karan  Johar’s cinema. It purports to  take  potshots at decadent wealth but is actually in awe of  the  Rich  &  The Beautiful. The director steps into the world of the  indescribably wealthy with the naked admiration of  a modestly-reared child  in a toystore filled with wondrous  delights. He  doesn’t know where to look and what to buy.

Director Jon Chu buys into his  privileged hero’s wealth  with such disarming honesty   that it is almost  sinful to declare this a film a crazy rich dud filled with  scratch-level emotions instilled  into people who have   never known a day’s deprivation. The  hero’s beautiful cousin(Gemma Chan) is  married to a man beneath her  class . She heaps him with expensive gifts and unconsciously makes him feel  inadequate  and  small.

The film glides  in the opposite direction. It heaps  us with  a torrent  of  wealth and enjoyment and tells us that pleasure pursuits of the very rich are not to be scorned but embraced.  By the time the handpicked  wedding  song,  Elvis Presley’s ‘I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You’ begins  I was convinced that the world can’t help falling in love with the jet-setters. They are irresistibly  unselfconscious of  their moneyed privileges.

Crazy Rich Asians is an unapologetic  celebration of lavish wealth.It has no life beyond the swish and glide of expensive fabrics. I am  sure hearing the sound of  ancestral money is  soothing to those who  dream of conquering their cravings by buying them  out.

In the  meanwhile  there  is this film. So full of its own chicness it can only hear the yawn  of the nawabi lifestyle where the  question every morning is, how do we spend money today?

This super-successful  film’s director must also be asking himself  the same  question.

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