Most Jane Austen fans are familiar with the comprehensive BBC production of her most famous novel, “Pride and Prejudice,” with Colin Firth as Darcy. Many have strong opinions of the movie starring Kiera Knightley as Elizabeth Bennett, as well. But I recently discovered a delightful gem of a foreign film, called “Bride and Prejudice,” a fusion of Bollywood and Hollywood that provides the best of both worlds.
The beautiful Aishwarya Rai, a huge star in India, plays the Elizabeth Bennett character, Lalita Bakshi, with wit and style. Martin Henderson portrays William Darcy as an American charmer who is obsessed with business and clueless about Indian culture, earning Lalita’s scorn. The Bakshi family show unique ways to entertain and socialize, while humiliating the two oldest sisters. Charming cad Mr. Wickham and the boorish, ridiculous Mr. Collins are represented, too, translating accurately in any culture.
“Bride and Prejudice” keeps the core of the familiar story intact while bringing an Indian flair of color and music that is a feast for the senses. The rather exotic Ashanti performed in a memorable beach rave scene, for instance, and the proper English dances in the original “Pride and Prejudice” are transformed in to lively, swirling color at the Indian wedding party . You wouldn’t really even have to be a fan of “Pride and Prejudice” to enjoy this movie, but it makes it a lot more fun to recognize characters that represent the ones in the novel.
The basic plot, a la Jane Austen’s beloved tale, is a middle class family with a lot of marriageable daughters and some rich, new prospects in town. In this version, the matriarch of the Bakshi family in India, with four daughters, is overjoyed to learn that a very rich Indian from England, a barrister no less, is coming to act as best man at a mutual friend’s wedding. When he arrives with Will Darcy, an American businessman who is even wealthier, she is sure her daughters are set. The progression of the story and introduction of the various characters is very true to the original, but the modifications to an Indian way of life, the cultural clashes and blends, and the song and dance scenes make this 2004 film a treat.
This movie/musical is upbeat, lively, and beautiful. It is funny, romantic and completely different within a very familiar context. The charming movie, “Bride and Prejudice,” is for all fans of Jane Austen, Hollywood musicals and/or Bollywood productions, since it is a joyful fusion of all three genres that everyone can enjoy.
IMDb, The Internet Movie Database, Bride and Prejudice
Wikipedia, Bride and Prejudice
Wikipedia, Aishwarya Rai