Published Feb 01, 2005As you can probably tell from the title, Bride and Prejudice is based on Jane Austen's novel of (almost) the same name. If you can't recall the essence of the plot, here's a quick recap: girl meets boy, then is turned off by what she perceives as his insufferable pride and affluence. Then she falls for his friend, who ends up falling for someone else, which frees her up to pursue her original interests, even though her overbearing mother would like her in an arranged marriage. Several crossed wires later, well, I don't want to give it all away but you get the picture.
In Chadha's version, Austen gets a Bollywood makeover. Dramatic dance numbers erupt at key points in the narrative and splash bright colors across ornate sets. And for those of us unfamiliar with the Bollywood tradition, the dialogue is peppered with key information, just so we're not completely lost.
This update, like the original, deals with class difference. But cultural difference is also explored. Lalita (played by Aishwarya Rai, a popular Bollywood actress) chastises Will Darcy at the start of the film for his American "imperial" ignorance. And when her mother tries to set her up with an old friend now living in the U.S., we get a glimpse of rifts within a culture. Lalita questions his perception of America as the holy land of opportunity, pointing out that 60 years after America's liberation, slavery was still rampant. India, at least in her comparison, is doing much better.
Like Chadha's previous film, Bend It Like Beckham, Bride and Prejudice is, at the risk of sounding trite, delightful. The acting is solid, the writing is intelligent and the music is catchy. A few reviewers have chastised it for being wacky but this is Bollywood, boys; it's supposed to be wacky. (Alliance Atlantis)