Film review: Bride & Prejudice (2004), directed by Gurinder Chada
What happens if you take Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice and set it in modern times – in India? You get something like Bride & Prejudice, which is directed by Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham, Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging and recently It’s a Wonderful Afterlife).
Set in India, we meet the Bakshis: a traditional Indian family with four stunningly gorgeous daughters (they’ve omitted Mary or Kitty or merged the two into one character) of a perfect age for marriage. At the wedding of a friend, the two oldest daughters – Lalita (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) and Jaya (Namrata Shirodkar) – lock eyes with a couple of handsome men. One a British Indian, Balraj (Naveen Andrews), the other a “white” American, William Darcy (Martin Henderson). Sparks fly.
Well, you know the rest. Pride gets in the way, prejudice in the way, Mr Wickham gets in the way, and so on. They’ve stuck to the original story fairly well, although there was a lot less singing in Austen’s version. And a lot less dancing, and none of this kind of dancing. And far fewer colours. It’s vibrant, the songs are catchy and there were several laugh-out-loud moments. Most of them including Mr Kholi (Nitin Ganatra), who definitely was the funniest character of the lot. Who he’s supposed to be? Why, Mr Collins, of course! He’s hired by Mr Darcy’s mum (not aunt) and doesn’t go on about her hotel chain quite as much as the original goes on about Rosings Park, but still. Crackin’ character.
The singing and dancing was really good – my gods, I never knew Sayid from Lost could move like that! Not equally handsome (your mileage may vary) but still rather handsome Mr Darcy wasn’t quite as stiff as the original Darcy, and Lalita (Elizabeth) seemed a bit more girly. Maybe just a cultural thing. No big showdown between Lalita and Mrs Darcy, sadly. You know, the “Are you marrying Darcy, yes or no?” “Screw you, old lady! That’s none of your business!” exchange in the garden.
Overall, I thought the dialogue was a bit stilted quite often and the acting a bit wooden, and it was a bit over-done with the eyes-locking-in-a-romantic-way, and the way people kept bursting into song. Okay, so I’m not exactly familiar with Bollywood type films, but I’m familiar with Disney, and I’m not crazy about spontaneous singing there either. Parts of the film reminded me of Mamma Mia! (*shudders*), except this was a whole lot better, and I didn’t feel like I had wasted my time watching it.
As an adaptation of Pride & Prejudice, it was different. Cheerful, colourful, and delightful. While I prefer the original story, there’s nothing wrong with modern interpretations. Bridget Jones did it rather well. And what’s to say you can’t move the story overseas? Bride & Prejudice is good fun!