India’s Fantasy in British ‘Heritage Films’: Analysis of a Passage to India
Deimantas Valančiūnas
Published 2015-05-25

How to Cite

Valančiūnas, D. (tran.) (2015) “India’s Fantasy in British ‘Heritage Films’: Analysis of a Passage to India”, Literatūra, 56(4), pp. 45–56. doi:10.15388/Litera.2014.4.7691.


This article deals with the reconfiguration of the co­lonial discourse and imagining the ‘Other’ in Britishheritage films and the analysis of David Lean’s film A Passage to India (1984)-an adaptation of F.M. Fors­ter’s novel of the same title and a representative of a specific subgenre of the ‘heritage films’, known also as the ‘Raj revival’. The analysis of Lean’s A Passage to India is carried out in relation to the ‘Thatcherite’ era, conservative politics in Britain, and the ideologi­cally constructed nostalgic gaze to the colonial past. As the analysis of the film has showed, the film is rather ambiguous. On the one hand, the film displays a critical attitude towards the Empire and emphasizes the brutality and inconsistency of the colonial regime in India, while on the other hand it invites the specta­tors to enjoy India as a nostalgic colonial spectacle and constructs it through the sexualisation and orientalisa­tion of the country. The analysis has also showed that the film recharges its characters with an erotic content. The film A Passage to India eroticises the Indian man, where the character of Aziz is constructed as a man ra­diating a dangerous sexuality, which may lead to pain­ful psychopathological consequences when encounte­red by a British woman – a discourse which becomes relevant once again in relation to the anti-immigration politics of the ‘Thatcherite’ Britain of the ’80s.