bride and prejudice movie review
Bride and Prejudice—colorful adaptation of Austen's novel.

Even if you're unfamiliar with Pride and Prejudice, you should get a real kick out of this modernized re-telling of the classic novel. Bride and Prejudice has a beautiful Indian heroine clashing with a handsome "imperialist" American, Mr. Darcy. This adaptation of Jane Austen's story is full of color and lively music—a "Bollywood" film tailored to be appreciated by Western tastes (while still holding appeal for Indian audiences).

 
Our heroine, Lalita ("Lizzie" from the book) and the uptight Mr. Darcy.

 
L: Lalita's sister, Jaya ("Jane" in the book) and her true love, Mr. Bingley. R: Mr. Wickham, Mr. Kholi ("Collins"), and Lalita at a festive dance.

The Story: In order to get the story of Pride and Prejudice to work for a contemporary era (and to be believable to Western and Indian viewers) many changes and compromises had to made—it would be unreasonable to expect Bride and Prejudice remain completely faithful to the original novel. But the core essence of the plot remains intact. A clash of wills, of preconceived notions, and cultural restrictions are what make Pride and Prejudice (and Bride and Prejudice) what they are. In both stories you have a family whose mom is desperate to marry her daughters off to rich guys. The two eldest sisters are lovely and sensible, while the younger sisters are a bit (or more than a bit) silly and boy-crazy. You have an indulgent father who loves his daughters more than anything. And lastly, you have a somewhat reserved and snobby young man and his easy-going and affable friend, who encounter the two older sisters and fall in love with them, after enduring some turmoil and false starts.

Most of the pivotal "big scenes" from the book are also present in this film (though some are tweaked or altered quite a bit) and most of the characters are recognizable, even if their names are a little different.

 

Bride and Prejudice's unique qualities: What's different about Bride and Prejudice is that there is a lot of dancing, singing, and color. Oh my word, a lot of color! Bollywood films never hesitate to clothe everyone in color-saturated costumes. Also, just like in any other musical, characters break out into song at regular intervals. At first I wasn't so sure I was going to like this, but after seeing the film for a second time, I decided that the singing and dancing sequences were among my favorite parts of the film—they are enthusiastic, upbeat, beautiful, and funny. A feast for the eyes and ears.

 
 
L-R: Mr. Darcy (Martin Henderson), Mr. Bingley (Naveen Andrews), Lalita and Jaya (Aishwarya Rai, Namrata Shirodkar), and Bingley and Jaya.

The lead actors: There is some controversy about the guy who plays Mr. Darcy (Martin Henderson). He seems kind of lackluster and stiff at first. But then again, isn't Mr. Darcy supposed to be rather unlikable at the beginning? I found that as the story progressed, I grew to like him more and more. In contrast, I was almost immediately smitten with Naveen Andrews (who plays Mr. Bingley). Traditionally in the Austen book (and in subsequent dramatizations), Darcy's buddy Bingley isn't as commanding or as handsome as Darcy—but in this version Mr. Bingley is very striking and vibrant, and arguably more interesting than Darcy himself (at least initially).

There's a lot of talk about actress Aishwarya Rai, the lead actress (Lalita). She is touted as one of the most beautiful women in the world, and I cannot say that I disagree with that. Not only is she physically exquisite, but there's a manner about her that seems un-self-conscious—like she's unaware of how beautiful she is. She exudes a genuine sweetness. (Whether this quality is authentic or not in real life I cannot say, but I'd like to think that it is.) Namrata Shirodkar, who plays Lalitha's sister, Jaya (love interest of Mr. Bingley) is also stunningly beautiful. In fact, all of the young actresses in this film are nothing less than lovely.

 
L-R: Lalitha and Jaya with their parents, Lalita approaches Mr. Darcy.

An excellent introduction to Bollywood: I recommend this movie to anyone who has never seen an Indian movie and is curious. It's certainly fun and engaging for Western tastes, yet still retains touches of "Bollywood." Make sure to watch the DVD extras, including the documentaries, which explain some of the cultural aspects to Indian films. Don't mistake this movie for a "pure" Bollywood film, however. It's been "Westernized" to a certain extent.

Bride and Prejudice on DVD

The DVD is highly recommended for any fan. The picture and sound are good, and there are a lot of extras—deleted scenes, extended scenes, interviews, and documentaries explaining the hows and whys of some aspects of the film.

The UK DVD version is a little different from the US version (and not only because of the cover art). I ordered the UK DVD because I had heard rumors that Mr. Darcy actually sang in this version of the movie. Mr. Darcy sings? This I gotta see! Well, it turned out to not be that big of a deal—a few sequences in the deleted scenes had Martin Henderson lip-syncing to songs. A must-have for a hardcore fan or collector, but not earth-shatteringly necessary for anyone else. On the flip side, the UK version does not have the "extended dance sequences" that are included in the USA version. I think these extended scenes are worth seeing, personally. So, if you are a huge Bride and Prejudice fan and live in the UK, you might want to consider ordering a USA copy of the film. (Amazon.com ships internationally.) If you are not sure how to play a DVD from a region that is not compatible with your DVD player, I explain some DVD region workarounds in another portion of this site. (Link opens into new window.)

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