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Bride & Prejudice – movie review
I recently watched the Indian / Bollywood adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel “Pride and Prejudice“, slightly retitled as “Bride & Prejudice” (2004).  To demonstrate my lack of culture, I first became aware of Austen and “Prejudice” when I saw the 2005 version with Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen in the lead roles of Elizabeth “Lizzy” Bennet and Mr. Darcy.  I don’t remember when I first saw the movie, but I believe it was somewhere around 2010.  I have since watched it at least a half dozen times.  I’m not sure what it is, but I find the whole story and setting fascinating.  I have also watched the 1995 version made for BBC TV starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle as Darcy and Elizabeth.  I must admit Ehle doesn’t hold a candle to Knightley, but Firth is every bit as good as MacFadyen, even though he doesn’t have the physical presence of MacFadyen.  In any case, because this is a series instead of a movie, I must say I prefer the series because there is more time to develop the characters.
Okay, enough background.  Back to the actual movie review…
In this version of the Jane Austen novel, Mr. William (aka Fitzwilliam) Darcy is an American played by Martin Henderson and Lizzie Bennett becomes Lalita Bakshi who is played by Aishwarya Rai.  The unmarried sisters (Lalita is the second oldest) and their family are plugged into a modern plot that spans London, Los Angeles, Bombay/Mumbai and Goa.  The family and four daughters live in Amritsar, India  (a country town) — which is trying to be true to original Austen story, but which has its own airport, so I’m not real sure how “true” that is.
The movie has the most problems because it can’t make up its mind whether it wants to be a romantic drama or a musical-romantic-comedy.  It tries to be both and therefore doesn’t really succeed at either.  To be honest, most of the numbers made no sense and I would have preferred they went for more drama.  Having said this, I have seen a few other Bollywood movies and I think they were just trying to sell to their home market.  Other than that, the big problem was how to bring the story up to modern day times.  The plot device here was to make the characters international and hence the side trips (LA and London) being used to demonstrate the wealth of the Americans and the Londoners.
How is the acting? Sadly, just so-so.  Henderson fails to strike the right notes (for me) as Darcy.  Darcy is the character which most draws me to the story (and I’m not sure why), but Henderson lacks the physicality of MacFadyen or British style of Firth.  Aishwarya is obviously the most beautiful of the Lizzie’s, but she seems wooden in this role.  I have not seen her in anything else so I don’t know if beauty is all there is or not, but from this role I’d judge it is.  Strangely enough, I didn’t even find Aishwarya to be the most camera “friendly”.  I thought that honor went to the actress Sonali Kulkarni as Chandra Lamba (Charlotte Lucas – Lizzie’s best friend in the British versions).
Does the movie work,  though?  Is it entertaining?  Yes and yes.  I liked the dancing and most of the songs.  The colors and the energy of India are very attractive.  Even though the acting wasn’t quite what I thought it could be, the movie is another Austen happy ending.  Final recommendation: strong recommendation as the Indian version of P&P, particularly if you are a “Prejudice” fan – as I am turning out to be.
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On This Day In:
2014 Say What?
2013 Daring Errors
2012 Are You Comfortable?
I Just Have To
In Flux
2011 True New
2010 A Job Well Started Is A Job Half Done
I See With My One Good Eye

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