Some of you will remember that I wrote a review a while back about a Sense and Sensibility Kollywood adaptation that Aishwarya Rai was starring in, as the Marriane-inspired character. Well, she has had a hand in more than one Indian cinematic Jane Austen adaptations, because she also plays the Elizabeth Bennet lead in the Hollywood meets Bollywood Pride and Prejudice adaptation, “Bride and Prejudice,” directed by Gurinder Chadha. Of course, as always, I rented from Scarecrow Video in Seattle. One of my readers from that old review had recommended I review this movie, so here I am.
If you are curious, here is the trailer:
The trailer itself actually purports in many ways what Lalita (the Elizabeth Bennet Character of the film) was trying to counteract in many of her interactions with Will (Mr. Darcy). It advertises somewhat of an imperialized and Anglo-cized version of Indian cinema, and this trailer version seems directed at an American audience. At one point in the film, Lalita says that Will, an entrepreneur from America, is trying to sell India to tourists who don’t want to see the real India, but who instead want to have “a touch of culture thrown in” during their vacation. Tourists who, “want to go to India, without having to deal with Indians.” This moment is made light of in the film, but it is a serious concern for the main character. Disappointingly, the movie almost becomes just that in its marketing strategy, geared towards an “Americanized” audience used to Hollywood films.
This movie is pretty hard to explain, but I will do my best to give you what in my opinion were the best and worst moments.
Think: cultural cross-pollination and filmic shots between Amritsar in India, London in England, and Los Angeles in America, with some big name stars and some who may be unknown to you.
- Pretty colors, and lots of them;
- First wedding dance number is very fun, and really sets the tone for excitement throughout;
- Lots of music to dance to (if you are into that);
- Aishwarya Rai plays a much better Eliza Bennet character than she does a Marianne, in my opinion.
- Fun if you are an Austen fan to see how the director interprets some of Austen’s characters from P&P;
- Underlying critique of American Imperialism;
- Defense of a developing India after independence from British rule;
- Not your typical Bollywood film, and quite a bit shorter, which is refreshing;
- Balraj (Mr. Bingley) is one of the actors from the old television show Lost- Naveen Andrews;
- “Take me to love” song and Montage that includes helicopter rides, a canyon, and epic choir moment on a beach…
- Unrealistic acting, singing (often in English), and storyline;
- A definite classism, with characters easily able to traverse the world, and even the “poor” Bakshis (Bennet family) have quite a few servants at their disposal (which is actually true in the original novel as well);
- Light and fluffy in places it might serve from its modern direction and have some sort of social commentary;
- Has some pretty heavy colonial overtones in a lot of problematic ways, and makes light of some pretty serious cultural and racial tensions that are present in the movie
- “Cobra Dance” as the youngest sister’s embarrassing moment- it just felt way over the top, and also kind of another moment of cultural clashing just barely touched on.
- It must be hard to pull off a mix of so many different genres and cultural references, but I don’t know that this film necessarily did it in a very graceful way.
I won’t recommend it, even though I enjoyed parts of it, because honestly I think it appeals to a very specific niche, and falls short in many other ways. If you love cheesiness, silliness, Pride and Prejudice and dancing, then you may enjoy the movie. Honestly, if you are strapped for time, I would recommend the two songs mentioned above- epic choir moment and intro wedding dance number, as they are probably two of the best moments in the movie.
For story coherency, creativity, energy, and the way it connects back to its source of inspiration (you can at least tell who the characters are supposed to represent from the novel within the first 20 minutes), I would say that the film Bride and Prejudice deserves a 2.5-3 /5 rating.
Warning: do not watch this movie unless you in the mood for pure brain candy, or if you want to do an analysis of the cobra dance moment and share it with me. Honestly, right now I just don’t have the mental energy.