“India: A love story” and the power of storytelling

About five or six years ago, Africa Magic aired a Brazilian telenovela titled, “India: A love story”.

The telenovela aroused curiosity because Africa Magic prided itself on telling authentic African stories. The curiosity grew into intrigue making hundreds of thousands of Nigerian households tune-in daily to follow the story.

The telenovela became even more intriguing when audiences realised that the casts were Brazilian. How did they so aptly capture the Indian culture? The Brazilians almost got us fooled but for the kissing and sex scenes.

“India, a love story” is based on arranged marriages.

Maya (Brazilian actress and former model, Juliana Paes) is the victim of a forbidden love. She’s fallen for Bahuan – a Dalit – a caste considered untouchables. Her counterpart is Brazilian actor and voice over artiste, Rodrigo Lombardi.  Lombardi plays Raj, the son of a wealthy fabric-trader Opash Ananda. Raj was sent to Brazil to study but also fell in love with a Brazilian woman, Duda.

As the story goes, Maya and Raj must give up their individual relationships to fulfil their parents’ wishes and be joined in marriage. Unknown to Raj’s family, Maya goes into the marriage carrying Bahuan’s a child. The couple eventually fall in love but Maya lives with the burden of her secret until it comes to light.

The telenovela also sheds light on the India caste system and beliefs; for instance, the viewers learn that a woman’s long hair implies her husband strength and that when a man passes on, his wife opens the gates of heaven to him. You also pick-up Hindi phrases like; “Are baaba” an expression of frustration when trying to convince someone who seems not be listening, “Achha” meaning okay, I understand, “Thik Hai” for it’s alright or fine, and “Challo” – let’s go.

It’s a beautiful love story shot in Rio de Janeiro, Rajasthan in India and Dubai. It captures the contrasts in Indian and Brazilian cultures. Whereas Raj is determined to please his parents, Duda is not beholden to anyone. As a result, she struggles to understand why she and Raj cannot be together.

The telenovela aired on Africa Magic at a time when India was in the news for a high incidence of rape cases. However, the storytelling was so power that it painted a perfect picture of the “Indian love” – an enduring love devoid of infidelity.

The characters often quote Indian proverbs also showcasing the Indian culture as rich. When Raj’s father – Opash Anandi convinces him to give up Duda, the “Firangi” – as they referred to foreigners in the telenovela, he says;

… when the Firangi’s love, it starts like a boiling pot of water which later goes cold, but when we Indians love, it starts cold and ends up hot like a boiling pot of water …’

It is heartwarming to see again “India: A love story” on Nina TV, DStv channel 143.

If you loved “India, a love story” and would like to relive the moments, or missed out on some episodes and would like to catch up, you’ve got another opportunity to do so. If you haven’t seen it, it’s highly recommended.

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