Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Bride and Prejudice (2005)

As an interlude between the two volumes of those Darcy moments from the classic BBC 1995 adaptation, Boots and Bonnets offers a quick review of and some info about Gurinder Chadha’s updated version of Pride and Prejudice in 2005.

P&P is updated as Bride and Prejudice and set principally in Amritsar in north India, but also travels to Goa, LA and London. Lizzie Bennett is Lalita Bakshi who is one of four daughters in a middle-class Sikh family living in Amritsar, whose mother is desperate to see the elder ones married. Fitzwilliam Darcy is William Darcy a super rich American hotelier who knows the Bingley character (Balraj) from Oxford. Essentially the story is the same as that in Austen’s novel and the main tension is between the different cultural assumptions of both Lalita and William about American and Indian ways of doing things, such as marriage, class, tourism and imperialism.

Johnny Wickham is perfect as a rakish backpacker who pays lip service to liberal PC attitudes to India, but exploits India as much as Darcy’s mother and her hotels. Mr Kohli is also very funny as the Mr Collins character, who lives in LA and adores the American lifestyle yet wants a traditional Indian bride. The use of ritual dances also work as a way of social fraternising and as bringing the music and sequences essential to a Bollywood movie into the film.

My main criticisms are that Lalita is always poised and not flustered (as Lizzie often is), the film loses some of its observation and comedy in the US sequences, the seriousness of Lakhi’s (Lydia) situation is not really dealt with and the end is tied up rather quickly.

However, it is a fun and thought provoking remake of Pride and Prejudice. Personally I just love the dance sequences – particularly the ‘Life is great, let’s celebrate’ on the streets of Amritsar and the gospel choir on the beach in LA. If you want a change of scene from traditional costume drama but still want a laugh at Austen’s comedy of manners and some romance then watch this.

Directed: Gurinder Chadha
Writing: Jane Austen (novel), Paul Mayeda Berges, Gurinder Chadha

Aishwarya Rai - Lalita Bakshi
Martin Henderson - William Darcy
Naveen Andrews - Balraj Bingley
Namrata Shirodkar - Jaya Bakshi
Daniel Gillies - Johnny Wickham

Official Website (And it plays my favorite song)


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