Bride & Prejudice (2004)
Starring: Martin Henderson, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Nadira Babbar, Naveen Andrews, Anupam Kher, Daniel Gillies,Indira Varma
Directed By: Gurinder Chadha
Written By: Paul Mayeda Berges, Gurinder Chadha
Rating: PG-13 (US) Running Time: 2 hr 2 min
The color, music and energy of Bollywood as applied to Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice. That’s the package deal with this interpretation of Austin’s tale of love confined by high society standards. An odd mix of western reactions to Indian culture. That plays out like a musical version of a sappy Mills & Boon novel, and not really the Bollywood experience I was hoping it would be.
I honestly however, can’t tell if what I saw was the real deal. A true Bollywood film. It’s not like I have any frame of reference having only ever seen small samples of the genre being played on TVs inside Indian restaurants. But my instincts tell me this wasn’t a truly authentic Tikka Masala. But perhaps as close as it was going to get considering the infusion of western ingredients in the production.
Bride and Prejudice starts out strong, and it doesn’t take long before the singing and dancing starts. Which was wonderful, and why I pushed ‘play’ in the first place. I loved the energy and rhythm of the lively choreographed performances, the incredible colors, and the bright smiles of the dancers. The opening act had two great set pieces like this, and it put a huge smile on my face. And yes, I found the energy infectious enough to warrant a little sofa dancing!
But once the story leaves India for London and Los Angeles, all the fun and color is traded for the UK’s gray skies, and LA’s middle-class beige neighborhoods. Leaving only the source material to wade through, which unfortunately doesn’t have the cast or script to truly do it justice. This movie then ends up being Bollywood lite. An introduction to the genre for the timid western moviegoer, not yet willing to take on the real deal, and perhaps read a few subtitles. A mix of entertainment sensibilities that doesn’t really work, as it tries to blend joyful Bollywood color and energy, with bad Hollywood melodrama, and turn of the 19th century classic literature.
This isn’t quite effective as a modern retelling of Jane Austin’s novel, or a full-on Bollywood musical. It does however, have its moments of quality. Especially during the two fantastic musical numbers during the first act.
The opening dance routines would be awesome to see on a big screen. The rest of the movie however, could be watched on any device you like. I recommended a HD screening on a nice big TV.
I loved the opening dance routine as all the main characters arrive to celebrate a wedding.