Friday, September 11, 2009
O Último Capítulo
Today was a special day in the country of Brazil. The last episode of Caminho das Índias, the novela that has entranced all of Brazil (or so it seems) for the last nine months, was finally aired, and I watched it.
How could I not? The novela das oito, the prime-time soap opera that doesn't actually start at 8, despite its name, is a cultural phenomenon here. Not even Survivor or American Idol at its height could have ever competed with the novela. At least three of my professors, if not all of them, have mentioned Caminho das Índias in class. And not just as in, "Hey, did you see the episode last night?" (it's on every night but Sunday). More like, "blah blah blah characteristics of psychopaths are as follows: blah blah blah. You know Yvone from Caminho das Índias? She's a perfect example of a psychopath because blah blah blah." It's a teaching technique -- and one that works, because everyone knows who Yvone is.
Apparently this novela has increased Brazilian interest in India, where approximately half of the action takes place (the other half takes place here in Rio). Though I had seen some episodes previous to tonight's, it was never quite clear to me what the link was. Why are these Indians (well, Brazilians dressed up as Indians) all speaking Portuguese and what is their relation with these Brazilians? At least one Brazilian was married to an Indian, but that's as far as I got. The ridiculous thing was, the Indians didn't even look Indian -- because they were Brazilian. The women were usually dressed in saris, but when the men wore suits, it was impossible to tell who was supposed to be from which country. I don't think that would fly as well in the U.S.: a TV show about India whose actors aren't actually of Indian descent.
The Brazilian with whom I was watching was crying within the first fifteen minutes, as were most of the characters. I didn't cry, but at least I didn't burst out laughing, as I had felt like doing in most of the other episodes I watched. If I had cried, it would have been during the epic scene when Raj came into the house with Maya, who had just avoided getting her hair cut off (???) and said, "As you can see, I didn't die," and everybody started crying. The father (I don't exactly understand whose father) kept sputtering, "Explain this; what is all of this" (he was as confused as I was). But since Raj and Maya's baby had just come home as well, and someone's sister or brother had also just announced that the baby would soon have twin cousins, and the father-figure joyously cried, "My whole family has returned" (some from the dead, apparently), it was a nice moment.
I don't really know what else happened, besides that Raj and Maya realized that they had "built a love" (in a scene set to Frank Sinatra's "I'm in the Mood for Love") and that the final scene had them say "I love you" at the same time, and that Maria Bethânia (a very famous Brazilian singer, and the sister of Caetano Veloso) randomly showed up to the red-head's wedding reception (I seemed to be the only one surprised by this), and that it was revealed that this random old guy was actually the father or grandfather of pretty much everyone on the show (instead of the dead old guy whose portrait everyone was always bowing to). Some of this, however, I actually already knew because it was on the front page of the paper a few days ago. No kidding.
Luckily I can leave all that confusion behind in just a few days. The new novela das oito starts Monday! It's called Viver a Vida and it looks promising. It seems to take place in Paris and Jordan and perhaps some other random locales (do they pull them out of a hat?). Since I'm starting this one from the beginning, hopefully I will be slightly less confused. I will finally feel like I can fit into society since I will understand more of the references. And maybe it will even help me with my schoolwork as well!
If you happened to miss any of the 203 episodes of Caminho das Índias, don't worry: you can check them out on YouTube here.
UPDATE: Of every 100 TVs turned on in Brazil during the last episode, 81 were tuned to Caminho das Índias. According to Wikpedia, the American program that comes closest to this in terms of market share is the Academy Awards of 1970, with 78% (the finale of M*A*S*H is next, with 77%).