every summer in Atlanta, the 'Miss India Georgia' pageant
presents a colorful juxtaposition of cultural heritages. One
contestant mesmerizes teenage boys as she glides across the
stage in the sheer, backless evening dress of a Southern deb.
Another enchants her grandparents when she performs a traditional
Hindu temple dance. A third does an aerobic dance routine
to a techno song, drawing catcalls from the audience.
some of Atlanta's 20,000 Indian-Americans, the pageant represents
surrender to the most tawdry and corrupt elements in American
culture; others view the contest as an emblem of the modern,
enlightened, cosmopolitan lives that Indian-Americans are
free to live in a new land.
Miss India Georgia is a 56-minute video documentary that tells
the stories of four contestants in the Atlanta pageant. The
film accompanies the young women to church, temple and mosque;
follows while they shop at the mall and hang out with friends;
goes with them to parties, fast-food jobs, dance clubs, and
pageant rehearsals. In discussions with their grandparents
about arranged marriages, in quarrels with their boyfriends,
and in revealing conversations with Indian and non-Indian
friends, these young women disclose the complexity of their
feelings about being first-generation Americans.
India Georgia presents intimate portraits of four young women
who find themselves pinned between cultures, forced to choose
every day between adhering to their parents' traditions and
accommodating to American values. Each struggles with the
question of how much to assimilate and how much to preserve
her ethnic identity. Each arrives at her own solution.