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BRIDE AND PREJUDICE, 2004
Movie Reviews!

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BRIDE AND PREJUDICE MOVIE POSTER
BRIDE AND PREJUDICE, 2004
Movie Reviews

Directed by Gurinda Chadha
Starring: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Martin Henderson
Review by Christopher Johnson



SYNOPSIS:

A Bollywood update of Jane Austen's classic tale, in which Mrs. Bakshi is eager to find suitable husbands for her four unmarried daughters. When the rich single gentlemen Balraj and Darcy come to visit, the Bakshis have high hopes, though circumstance and boorish opinions threaten to get in the way of romance.

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REVIEW:

Gurinder Chadha’s offering is an adaptation of Jane Austen’s most popular novel Pride and Prejudice. Relocated from early 1800s England to modern day India, the film is a flawed attempt to update the classic within the conventions of a traditional Bollywood movie.

Mrs Bakshi (Nadira Babbar) is eager to find husbands for her four daughters; however, the intelligent and determined Lalita (Aishwarya Rai) declares that she will only marry for love. When she meets the rich American Will Darcy (Martin Henderson) they experience a certain frisson. Nonetheless, wires cross and Lalita deems Darcy to be an arrogant Californian full of self-importance, whilst he confesses that beauty is his only attraction for her. What follows is an energetic and gaudy comedy of mismatches.

Two prospective romances for Lalita prevent the unquestionable affection between her and Darcy from revealing itself. This is, of course, until the inevitable paint-the-town-red and marriage-atop-elephants climax.

Chadha teams up with fellow screenwriter Paul Mayeda Berges for the third time, having previously partnered on What’s Cooking? (2000) and Bend it like Beckham (2002). Bride and Prejudice topped the UK Box office charts on its opening weekend, however the quality of the screenplay cannot account for this achievement, being as it is a constant and unmistakable cliché. Moreover, it may be responsible for the weak performances, which are a horrible mix of overacting and clumsy dialogue. Most guilty was Mr Wickham (Daniel Gillies), the roguish Englishman of the story, his bare-faced offensiveness makes for a tedious character and it is absurd that beautiful Lalita should fall for him. Mr. Kholi (Nitin Chandra Ganatra), who provides the main body of comedy in the film, is just too hammy and stereotyped. His incongruous personality clashes bizarrely on screen with Lalita, whom he wishes to marry.

Incorporating some identifying features of the classic Bollywood style, the film exhibits sudden, inexplicable dance sequences and swift, unsystematic location changes. Some of the cast even try to overplay their characters in the exaggerated manner recurrent in Bollywood pictures.

Chadha’s previous films, such as Bhaji on the Beach (1993) have strived to capture some of the fears and troubles of Asian communities in contemporary England. This latest contribution struggles to deal with similar issues such as arranged marriage and tradition in India. It represents a second-rate homage to Bollywood, and a naïve view of Indian values.

Convoluted with both stereotypes and lifeless efforts at realism, it is an over-bearing take on a Bollywood format, which fails to be anything other than an elaborate joke. The mortified gaze of Martin Henderson as he leads an Indian percussion band at the finale is all too genuine, representing an embarrassing two hours for both the audience and, quite conceivably, the cast.

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