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‘Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh’ — Helena Bonham Carter-starrer ad toasts curry’s place in UK culture

Indian curry, which has long been a significant part of British cuisine, fanned some new social media reactions after an ad featuring British actor Helena Bonham Carter was released this week.

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New Delhi: Washington Post food columnist Gene Weingarten probably didn’t realise how hot his curry comment would end up being. But following his take on ‘the Indian spice’ — an inaccurate generalisation that caused more social media heartburn than a tummy upset — the Indian dish has now found itself in a British advertisement.

Desi curry references were splattered across social media after the British credit card company Barclaycard, based in Northampton, released an ad Wednesday featuring British actor Helena Bonham Carter, known for her roles in the Harry Potter movie series and The King’s Speech, among others.

Set in Paradise, a fictitious South Asian restaurant in the UK, the ad begins with a monologue by restaurant owner Wasel, who says his growing business “takes payments with Barclaycard”.

Helena Bonham Carter, playing herself, is then introduced as a customer while Kumar Sanu-R.D. Burman’s hit song ‘Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh’ plays in the background.

“She was looking for a curry, and I was looking to provide Helena with the perfect takeaway experience. I was confident as we take payments securely through Barclaycard,” Wasel says.

The ad concludes with Carter saying she enjoyed the curry.

After sparing no mercy for Weingarten for not only calling curry a spice but claiming it was the “one spice” the entire Indian cuisine was based on, users appeared thrilled for the curry’s latest 15 minutes of fame.

Also read: We are mad about Weingarten’s Indian food comment. But who decides what’s ‘Indian’?

UK’s ‘going out for curry’ culture

The UK has a long, storied history with Indian food, especially desi curries, which have become a part of Britain’s culinary culture. It gave rise to the culture of “going for a curry”, a phrase that denotes the meal that follows a late night out.

This culture stemmed from the South Asian immigrants who landed on the UK’s shores following India’s Independence and the creation of Pakistan in 1947, according to Historic UK, a website on British culture.

“After the Second World War, they (ex-seamen from Bangladesh) bought bombed-out chippies and cafes selling curry and rice alongside fish, pies, and chips. They stayed open after 11 pm to catch the after-pub trade. Eating hot curry after a night out in the pub became a tradition. As customers became increasingly fond of curry, these restaurants discarded British dishes and turned into inexpensive Indian takeaways and eateries,” the article added.

The curry culture has also been lampooned over the years, such as in comedian Rowan Atkinson’s 1980s-era skit ‘Guys After The Game’ that mocks drunk English customers going for a curry after attending a football match.

(Edited by Manasa Mohan)

Also read: Indian food fourth most popular in the world, a study of cuisine trade finds


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