Bride & Prejudice
Known for their inclination toward extended storylines and melodramatic events, Bollywood and Jane Austen novels seem like a match made in heaven. Basing a script on Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Indian moviemakers give the 18th century story a cultural overhaul while offering audiences a peek at Bollywood-style filmmaking in Bride and Prejudice.
Will Darcy (Martin Henderson) is a well-heeled young North American businessman whose family owns a long list of upscale hotels around the world. When his friend Balraj Bingley (Naveen Andrews) travels home to India to be the best man at a wedding, Will agrees to come along and check out a possible purchase for his mother's (Marsha Mason) company.
But even the traffic jams and harried pace of Los Angeles don't prepare this foreigner for the sights and sounds of the bustling little Indian town. Overwhelmed by his new surroundings (and the lack of reliable business-tending services at his lodgings), he appears to be disenchanted and standoffish to some of the other party guests, including the bride's friend, Lalita Bakshi (Aishwarya Rai).
Unfortunately, the intelligent and outspoken daughter of a local farmer has her own preconceived notions about America. They are reinforced when another Westernized suitor (Nitin Chandra Ganatra) shows up on her family's doorstep. Despite the best matchmaking efforts of mother (Nadira Babbar), Lalita isn't willing to settle for a guy who spends more of his time boasting about his overseas acquisitions than he does wooing the girls. Devoted to her home and family, her protective nature is also sensitive to the notion her older sister (Namrata Shirodkar) should marry first.
Its no surprise then that her own judgments, coupled with a few bad experiences, puts her relationship with Will in jeopardy from the start. In true Austin style, they are plagued by misunderstandings, incredible near misses and mounting frustration. No wonder it takes nearly two hours to get things sorted out.
For family entertainment, the film contains no kissing (a portrayal that is considered inappropriate by many in the Indian film industry). However, there are a number of skin-baring outfits including a tiny, beaded costume worn by Ashanti during a song and dance routine at a beachfront party. The script also contains several profanities, a fistfight, a man in a skimpy Speedo and some sexual innuendo.
Fortunately, this musical unfolds with colorful costumes, exotic sets, lively dance scenes and ethnic insights. Marriage customs, familial fondness and a sense of community are all positively depicted. The film also introduces several well-known Bollywood actors to a wider audience and gives voice to another group of moviegoers.
And luckily, while the movie illustrates that prejudice can show up on both sides of the ocean, it also reminds us we don't have to be married to it.