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Friday Film Review: Bride and Prejudice

Bride and Prejudice (2004)
Genre: Comedy/Drama/Musical/Romance
Grade: B

Jane Austen meets (modified) Bollywood and the result is delightful. This is one of the best adaptations of Jane Austen to the contemporary setting I’ve come across. It’s fun, it’s lighthearted and does a great job compacting the novel into 112 minutes.

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The plot is basically the same as the novel but takes place in Amritsar, India, London, and LA. Darcy (Martin Henderson) has come to Amritsar with his college pal Balraj (Naveen Andrews) and Balraj’s sister Kiran (Indira Varma) to attend a wedding. There they meet the Bakshi sisters Jaya (Namrata Shirodkar), Lalita (Aishwarya Rai), Maya (Meghna Kothari) and Lakhi (Peeya Rai Chowdhary). Later in the film, Mr. Kohli (Nitin Ganatra) the transplanted American arrives and eventually offers for Lalita’s friend Chandra (Sonali Kulkarni) much to Mrs. Bakshi’s (Nadira Babbar) dismay and Mr. Bakshi’s (Anupam Kher) delight.

In a slight change from the book, Lahki and Wickham (Daniel Gillies) run off only to be tracked down in time to avoid disaster. Eventually, as we know it must, Lalita’s prejudice and Darcy’s pride are transformed as each sees the other in a different light than when they first met and, after Jaya and Balraj are reunited, a happy double wedding, Indian style, ends the film.

Director Gurinder Chadha includes lots of homages to Bollywood films but tempers that for Western film goers who might not be ready for a full Bollywood experience. There are plenty of song and dance numbers, shots of famous landmarks, and scenes filmed on staircases. It wasn’t until I listened to the commentary tract, that I found out how many of the scenes I thought were filmed in either LA or India, were actually made in England. Ah, the magic of film making.

The screenwriters were fairly faithful to the main events in the book with a few exceptions. Lady Catherine becomes Darcy’s mother, there are only four Bakshi daughters and, in a nice change, Chandra and Mr. Kohli appear to be headed towards a happier marriage than Charlotte and Mr. Collins. The main difference though is the fact that here the differences in culture stand for the original differences in class. Darcy and Lalita must find a way to blend India and America rather than just overcome a difference in social position.

The dance numbers are fun to watch including a few wedding scenes sung in Punjabi, a street scene in Amritsar, a beach party in Goa and, in LA, a Mariachi band plus a gospel choir backed up by singing surfers and beach lifeguards.

Purists were no doubt appalled by it all but I love it. The story is shown to be eternal and translatable to any country or time. Check it out and I bet you’ll find yourself tapping your toes as the Bakshi girls dance and sing about how wonderful life would be as Mrs. Kohli. Oh, and don’t forget to watch through the credits at the end – there are lots of funny outtakes included.

~Jayne

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

51 Comments

  1. Sandy James
    May 21, 2010 @ 04:24:07

    I LOVE this show! Between the great songs, the gorgeous costumes, and the Jane Austen theme, how could you lose?

  2. Babs
    May 21, 2010 @ 04:46:02

    I love this one also! So much fun…the adaptation really works.

  3. Anne Douglas
    May 21, 2010 @ 05:28:49

    I heart this movie – I’m with Sandy, song and dance and a well played story, you can’t go wrong!

  4. Jayne
    May 21, 2010 @ 05:36:59

    @Sandy James: I love the songs! And the dance numbers, especially when Balraj becomes the Indian MC Hammer.

  5. Mary M
    May 21, 2010 @ 05:51:54

    I love this movie!! I saw it in a projection for the press when it first came out and I was blown away by the colors and energy. I blame it for starting my obsession with Bollywood, which continues to this day…..lol. And IMO that is probably one of Ash’s best performances ever. The twist on Jane Austen was very well done.

  6. Mina Kelly
    May 21, 2010 @ 05:55:41

    For all the change in setting, it’s a pretty faithful adaptation. I don’t think I’ve seen a single jane Austen fan with a bad word to say about it. Not much is lost by smooshing Kitty and Lydia into one person, or changing a handful of the relationships around, and the soundtrack is just amazing. It’s a great way of laying the first few breadcrumbs on the path into bollywood love.

  7. Jayne
    May 21, 2010 @ 05:59:49

    @Mary M: Wow, I can imagine that seeing it on a big screen would be amazing. What other Bollywood films would you recommend? I’ve been trying some but the results have definitely been hit or miss.

  8. Jayne
    May 21, 2010 @ 06:02:11

    @Mina Kelly: I agree that the relationship changes are well done and helpful for the length of the film.

    Now, I’ll ask you the same question I put to Mary M: what Bollywood films have you liked? I’ve mainly been going by grades at Netflix but have found those don’t always work for me.

  9. Joan/SarahF
    May 21, 2010 @ 06:35:56

    I saw this film in a private studio theater in LA during the Jane Austen Society of North America’s Annual conference in LA. It had just come out in England (I think) but not yet in the US. I was surrounded by 120 other screaming Jane Austen fans and OMG, we adored this movie. Just loved it! So even the purest of the purists loved it. One of my most favorite memories. The gasp of appreciation that went through the theater when Wickham rose up out of the water in all his half-naked glory was astounding! :)

  10. Mina Kelly
    May 21, 2010 @ 07:05:53

    If you want another Holly/Bolly mix, The Guru is a lot of fun. I’ve had Bunty Aur Babli on my wishlist so long I can no longer remember what it was about, and Amazon is trying to persuade me to buy Kuch Naa Kaho with it (and would be succeeding if I haven’t had a mini Amazon spree yesterday).

  11. mdegraffen
    May 21, 2010 @ 07:23:02

    I really enjoy this movie. I wasn’t at all familiar with Bollywood, so that much was new. The music and choreography are delightful. The actress who plays Lalita, Aishwarya Rai, has been voted the most beautiful woman in the world, and for good reason. Martin Henderson is no slouch either. Great adaptation.

  12. Jennifer Rayment
    May 21, 2010 @ 07:34:02

    I loved this one too, it was so much fun and just beautiful to watch. It was nice seeing Naveen Andrews as a character quite different than his character on lost

  13. Chicklet
    May 21, 2010 @ 08:13:53

    I love this movie and bought it on DVD as soon as it was released. I only wish Chadha had cast someone more charismatic as Darcy. I thought Henderson was a bit dull and spent chunks of time in the theatre recasting the role in my mind.

  14. Mary M.
    May 21, 2010 @ 08:27:45

    Let me think… In the quality department, I think the best two I’ve seen would be Dil Chahta Hai and Lage Raho Munna Bhai. The first is a drama but still great fun, and I was struck by the quality of the writing and the acting that was much closer to what we’re used to in the West than is the norm in Bollywood – very authentic instead of melodramatic. Awesome movie. Lage Raho is sheer comedy with romance thrown in and laugh-out-loud hilarious. Both have good songs. Two other excellent ones but definitely on the serious side are Lagaan, a lavish historical 4-hours-long magnum opus and Water, which is more a western film set in 40s India than a Bollywood).

    In the purely entertaining department, the I enjoyed the most would be Krrish (superhero movie with the gorgeous Hrithik Roshan – who’s also the best dancer in Bolly IMO), Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai (watched that one with a bunch of girlfriends, we laughed so hard), Salaam-e-Ishq (using the concept of Love, Actually – awesome soundtrack), Dostana and the 2 Dhooms. Those are action, and Dhoom 1 is better than #2, which lags, is overly long and has a weak scenario, but Dhoom 2 had the highest budget ever or something and it looks slick and hip and WOW and I love the songs. Plus, all the actors are jaw-dropping beautiful, inclusing Aishwarya and Hrithik (OMG the opening dance scene!) and they even share a kiss, which is awfully rare in Bollywood. Caused a big scandal too, as mild as it looks to our blaséed eyes.

    What other Bolly movies have you tried so far and which ones did you like and not? I’m interested too! ;)

  15. Caridad Pineiro
    May 21, 2010 @ 08:52:18

    Thanks for the review! I loved BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM and was wondering whether to see this. Now I’ll have to check it out.

  16. Meredith Duran
    May 21, 2010 @ 08:59:22

    Ooh! So excited to see this review. Jayne, you should try to track down Kandukondain Kandukondain, also starring Aishwarya Rai; it’s a Tamil film adaptation of Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. I really liked Bride & Prejudice, but I *adored* KK. It should be available in a subtitled version from Aiyngaran (DVD company).

    And now, because I just got back from watching Kites (first day, first show!) and cannot suppress my enthusiasm, I want to make suggestions as well! I’m with Mary M. on the Dil Chahta Hai love, but if it’s straight-up romance you’re after, Parineeta is a gorgeous romance set in 1960s Calcutta. If you can take a little 1990s-era cheeze, try out Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. Dil Se does not have a happy-ever-after but it’s quite the powerful romance. And Jab We Met is a completely adorable rom-com that was a huge hit as well.

    P.S. Mina, Kuchh Na Kaho got really mixed reviews, but I liked it. Great dancing, great soundtrack. And had you told me back then that Aish and Abhishek would end up together in real life, I would have laughed at the very idea. That alone makes it rather interesting to watch, now.

  17. Jayne
    May 21, 2010 @ 09:08:43

    @Mina Kelly: “and Amazon is trying to persuade me to buy Kuch Naa Kaho”

    Oi, hate to say this was one of my Bollywood misses. The hero starts as an ass and doesn’t get much better through the halfway point. Aishwarya Rai plays a woman whose husband has deserted her and their son. The boy is a major PITA, IMO. I made it to the mid point then gave up despite the high grades at Amazon.

  18. Jayne
    May 21, 2010 @ 09:12:25

    @Meredith Duran: “Jayne, you should try to track down Kandukondain Kandukondain, also starring Aishwarya Rai; it's a Tamil film adaptation of Austen's Sense and Sensibility. I really liked Bride & Prejudice, but I *adored* KK. It should be available in a subtitled version from Aiyngaran (DVD company).”

    Already tracked down and review written. ;) This is a hard one to find as Netflix has it listed as “unavailable” damn them! I finally went ahead and bought my own copy but it’s also on youtube in 15 segments.

  19. Jayne
    May 21, 2010 @ 09:13:36

    @Chicklet: Who would you rather see as the Darcy character? Recasting is such a fun timewaster!

  20. Jayne
    May 21, 2010 @ 09:15:26

    @Caridad Pineiro: Love “Bend it Like Beckham” too. Must eventually do a review of it.

  21. Mary G
    May 21, 2010 @ 09:17:11

    I so loved this movie I had to get my own copy. It’s all that plus I could just look at Martin Henderson all day. The only thing I missed: They didn’t even kiss, I know because of culture pressures, but it was still pretty sweet.

  22. Jayne
    May 21, 2010 @ 09:34:59

    I might miss some but here’s what I can remember I’ve seen:

    Kuch Naa Kaho – didn’t like, too melodramatic and didn’t like hero or the son.

    Dil Bole Hadippa! – obnoxious heroine ruins story plus there’s a preachy speech she makes at the end of the film.

    Dor – not really Bollywood but very nicely done drama.

    Namastey London – I can’t even remember much of this one to say why I didn’t like it.

    Just Married – Boooo-ring.

    Kandukondain Kandukondain – as Meredith said it’s a Tamil film but it’s utterly fantastic. Loved it.

  23. Rebecca Lynn
    May 21, 2010 @ 09:37:40

    I really enjoyed this movie, as well. In my opinion, this was the attempt at “Americanizing” the Bollywood experience. Most Bollywood films are in Hindi, and they’re much more exciting than this one.

    My faves are Bunty aur Babli (like a Bonnie & Clyde type of movie–has the BEST song in it, called “Nach Baliya” that I listen to constantly now), Kuch naa Kaho (yes, the hero is sort of an ass for awhile, but honestly, it’s Abhishek Bachchan… he can pull it off), and Umrao Jaan (which is a bit more serious).

    Of course, the whole reason I got into Bollywood in the first place is that I watched B&P because of Naveen Andrews. :-)

  24. Michelle
    May 21, 2010 @ 10:09:00

    Marigold is cute. About a spoiled, American actress who gets stranded in India.

  25. Jayne
    May 21, 2010 @ 10:10:34

    Wow, I’m adding tons of selections to my Netflix queue. Has anyone seen any of these?

    Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi

    Om Shanti Om

    Veer-Zaara

  26. Rebecca Lynn
    May 21, 2010 @ 10:16:33

    @Jayne: Om Shanti Om is good.

    You inspired me to do my own Bollywood post. :-) And to start watching new films that I haven’t seen yet.

    Aaah, I heart Bollywood. :-)

  27. Meredith Duran
    May 21, 2010 @ 10:29:39

    Jayne — Already tracked down and review written. ;)

    AH! Cannot wait to read it!!

  28. Castiron
    May 21, 2010 @ 11:26:45

    @Meredith Duran: Seconding the Kandukondain Kandukondain recommendation. Great music, interesting take on the story, lots of romance and drama. (This is also the movie that has convinced me the only way to do a good movie adaptation of Mansfield Park is to have it done by an Indian studio. All those musical numbers that show the characters’ hidden thoughts and emotions are what a film version of MP needs to work.)

    Kuch naa Kaho worked for me because the hero, while starting out as an ass, actually grows up over the course of the movie, and because the climactic scene hangs on the heroine’s standing up for herself rather than her being “rescued”.

    I also really enjoyed Lagaan. The romance subplot did nothing for me, but the main storyline was intriguing, and the movie made cricket look interesting.

  29. Susan/DC
    May 21, 2010 @ 11:38:05

    @Meredith Duran: A little more please on “Kites”. I’ve watched all the trailers available online and am eager to see the film, but if you have any comments I’d love to hear them. It stars Hrithik Roshan and several other actors (male and female) who are so beautiful it’s hard to believe I’m of the same species.

  30. Jayne
    May 21, 2010 @ 12:07:21

    @Rebecca Lynn: Rebecca, your post is a great starting place for those of us who are still learning the Bollywood ropes.

  31. Sandy James
    May 21, 2010 @ 12:52:35

    @Caridad Pineiro:

    You’ll love Bend it Like Beckham. Another wonderful movie!!

  32. cs
    May 21, 2010 @ 13:11:36

    @Jayne: Watch 3 Idiots – it’s an epic film. Or any film with the actor Amir Khan in it. He’s quality. You should watch “My Name is Khan” as well. Both movies have their cheesy moments, but they’re movies of great relevance and are brilliant.

  33. Meredith Duran
    May 21, 2010 @ 13:21:01

    @Susan/DC — I liked Kites; I didn’t love it. I’m an unabashed fan of full-on, unfiltered masala, and if you, like me, really enjoy the conventions that distinguish popular Hindi films (songs and dances; a narrative that builds slowly, and which often intersperses the A-story with a comedic subplot), you might come away from the film feeling slightly unsatisfied.

    On the plus side, it’s very slickly made, has an adorable scene with shadow puppets that has potential to become one of those iconic moments a la “Shahrukh with the mandolin in DDLJ,” and has a non-linear narrative that at times seems unnecessary but really pays off, in the end. It also features some of Hrithik’s most awe-inspiring dance moves yet, albeit in a scene set to techno and house music, and lit by strobe lights that made my head hurt.

    In short, I’d recommend it, with caveats. It’s certainly a great film for people who are curious about Hindi films but not willing to plunge headfirst into the pure filmi madness. At the least, it will produce some new Hrithik fans. He is… aging well, let’s say. ~clears throat, fans herself~

    P.S. And if you do see it in the theater, I’d love to know if there’s any public reaction from the crowd at the end. The audience reaction in my (jampacked) theater was extremely peculiar — a wave of laughter, a moment of silence, scattered applause, and then, in closing, a few random hisses. I’ve seen a bunch of films in Delhi theaters, but the only other movie I saw that merited this reaction was the third installment of The Lord of the Rings!

  34. willaful
    May 21, 2010 @ 13:22:44

    Just curious – by “purists,” did you mean Austen purists or Bollywood purists?

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    May 21, 2010 @ 14:35:37

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  36. Jayne
    May 21, 2010 @ 15:57:26

    @willaful: I meant Austen purists.

  37. Nalini Singh
    May 21, 2010 @ 16:33:36

    @Jayne

    Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi – it’s a quieter film than you usually see in Bollywood, but sweet and romantic. (I am a Shah Rukh Khan fan so total bias by the way).

    Om Shanti Om – fun film. Doesn’t take itself too seriously, and that’s part of the fun of it.

    Veer-Zaara – this one made me cry and cry. It’s an epic romance, and beautifully shot.

    Another one I haven’t seen mentioned is Jodhaa-Akbar. I love this movie. It’s another grand epic, set in the time of the Mughal Empire. Just gorgeous to watch.

    I’ll second the rec for Jab We Met. It’s adorable.

  38. Nalini Singh
    May 21, 2010 @ 16:37:46

    And one more – Rock On!! Great movie about a rock group / circle of friends. Very different in that the focus is on the friendships rather than the romances.

  39. Angie
    May 21, 2010 @ 16:39:05

    This was an excellent movie, a great translation of P&P.

    I don’t know if I agree that the story is universal — I think the fact that India was a British colony for such a long time, and so was the US, gives the three cultures enough points of similarity that the people can relate to one another, and the cultural differences are enough to cause some interesting conflicts without putting the characters on different planes.

    In the non-universality of culture and stories, I highly recommend Shakespeare in the Bush by Laura Bohannan, an anthropologist who spent some time with the Tiv people of West Africa, and told them the story of Hamlet. She got quite an education out of the experience, as did I and my anthropology class when we read her article however many years ago. :)

    Angie

  40. Jayne
    May 21, 2010 @ 16:59:31

    @Angie: Thanks for the link, Angie. I guess some stories really are impossible to translate to different cultures. It makes me wonder what the Tiv people would think of American soap operas.

  41. Angie
    May 21, 2010 @ 17:04:44

    @Jayne: LOL! I don’t know, but I’ll bet it would be entertaining, and enlightening, at least on our part. I have a feeling the Tiv would just decide we’re all crazy. I’d have a hard time arguing with them, too. [wry smile]

    Angie

  42. biabroad
    May 22, 2010 @ 04:50:28

    Y’all appear to be a touch confused. This isn’t a Bollywood film. It’s a film by a British Indian director. Funding is from British/US sources.

    Just because something has Indians in it doesn’t automatically make it “Bollywood”.

  43. Jayne
    May 22, 2010 @ 06:22:07

    @biabroad: Yes, we know it’s not Bollywood. It’s Gurinder Chadha’s homage to Bollywood x Jane Austen.

  44. Maili
    May 22, 2010 @ 06:23:26

    @biabroad: You’re right, it’s a British musical film that happens to feature largely Indian cast, but two things.

    a) B&P was promoted as a British Bollywood film. Oxymoronic, but I believe it was done on a understanding that to the public these days, ‘Bollywood’ is a genre type, regardless of where it was made and produced by whom.

    Similar to how the US public describe major or big-hit film releases as ‘Hollywood films’ when they technically aren’t. One example: Slumdog Millionaire was referred as a Hollywood or Bollywood film by members of the US audience, who didn’t recognise it as a British film.

    b) technically and originally, B&P is a British film, but it’s formally recognised and accepted as a British-Indian-American film.

    To be honest, I wouldn’t bother figuring out the accurate nationality of each production because it can be so tangled. Technically, for instance, Ridley Scott’s Alien is a British film, but it’s widely recognised and accepted as an American film.
    Other American films with British origins or major British financiers: The Deer Hunter, Blade Runner, The Motorcycle Diaries, and many more. And vice versa in many cases.

    Sorry, this is more than we want to know but thanks for (unwittingly) giving me a chance to be a trivia nerd. :P

  45. Alisha Rai
    May 22, 2010 @ 18:52:48

    I love B&P! The soundtrack is adorable.

    I don’t think anyone’s recommended Aaja Nachle yet. The plot is solid, the dance/song numbers in that movie are some of my favorites, and I just <3 Madhuri Dixit.

  46. Karen Scott
    May 23, 2010 @ 01:07:24

    I loved, loved loved this film! But then again, I’ve been a Bollywood fan since I was 14.

  47. Jini
    May 23, 2010 @ 05:59:41

    I’d like to add a few recommendations:
    kabhie kabhie
    silsila
    Lamhe
    sahib biwi aur ghulam
    Omkara
    hum dil de chuke sanam

  48. Sherry Thomas
    May 23, 2010 @ 08:13:15

    Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai are becoming rather a legendary pairing. If you guys haven’t seen it, try Dhoom 2. It’s a lot of fun.

    And Meredith, what do you think of Jodhaa Akbar? I usually wait for a strong recommendation before plunging into a Bollywood movie, given how long it tends to be.

    Edited to add: Oh, I see Nalini Singh recommended Jodhaa Akbar. Okay, next time I’m at the Desi grocery store. :-)

  49. Courtney Sheets
    May 24, 2010 @ 12:54:06

    I’m a little late to the party but I’ll comment anyway :)

    Veer- Zaahra is my favorite Bollywood films. It makes me cry everytime I watch it.

    Devdas is really good as well. Not a happily ever after, but a great film.

    For fun and silliness look at Om Shanti Om. Reincarnation and a Disco/Bollywood song. Good Stuff.

    I have me a big collection of Bollywood on DVD :)

  50. Lee
    Jun 09, 2010 @ 22:45:56

    I also strongly recommend Kandukondain Kandukondian – excellent adaptation of Sense and Sensibility.

    Another wonderful movie is Jodha Akbar – epic historical romance based on religous tolerance (Hindu/Muslim) from the director of Oscar nominated Lagaan.

    Another romance movie that is good is Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam – love triangle about selfless love from a male point of view.

    Also Umrao Jaan – period movie – sad love story

    Bunty and Babli is a fun romantic crime caper.

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