Saturday, August 24, 2013

Bride & Prejudice

Bride & Prejudice (2004)
     Combining East and West cultures can be a difficult and even an impossible task, but in the world of Bollywood nothing seems too hard or impossible. Which is probably why Gurinder Chadra's musical comedy adaption of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" was so successful. Bride & Prejudice had all the beloved elements of the original novel, but the Indian twist of culture, dance and music took the story to a completely fresh new level.

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Will Darcy and Lalita Bashki

Martin Henderson as Will Darcy and Aishwarya Rai as Lalita Bashki in
Bride & Prejudice (2004)
     East meets West when lovely Lalita Bashki meets workaholic, Will Darcy at an engagement party for her best friend. Actually, Will doesn't want to be there; he's only dragged along by his own best friend Mr. Balraj, a wealthy and successful English barrister (lawyer in England) who is pursued by every mother in the small town as a potential husband for their single daughters. Within in the first few minutes of their meeting, Lalita sees Will as rude and aloof, and Will himself wants nothing to do with India at all, except buy the towns best hotel and use it as tourism for money and benefit (much to Lalita's dismay).

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Aishwarya Rai as Lalita Bashki
     Beautiful and independent Lalita Bashki has had an idyllic life in the small poor town of Amritsar, India with her three lively sisters, loving father and overbearing mother who spends every moment trying to get her daughters married off. Unlike most of the girls in India who spend their days dreaming and preparing for marriage and family, Lalita is off on her father's farm helping him to pay the family's endless bills.

     Often seen as too intelligent for an Indian woman, Lalita isn't afraid to speak her mind to her mother, her friends or even strangers that insult her beloved town. She cares deeply for Amritsar and its people and the idea of leaving the small city as well her doting father is unimaginable. After she meets handsome, but opinionated Will Darcy at an engagement party, she tries to give him the benefit of the doubt, but soon comes to the belief that he is rude, arrogant, and full of prejudice against her and the rest of India.

The Bashki Family
     Lalita loves her family fiercely, especially her older sister Jaya (jay-uh) whom she confides in about everything. When Jaya finds herself falling for charming and handsome Mr. Balraj of England, Lalita is excited for her as well as for the future prospects for her struggling family. Except Mr. Balraj insists on taking his overbearing best friend with him, therefore Lalita must put up with insufferable Mr. Darcy.

    While accompanying Jaya on a trip to the beach resort in Goa, with Balraj, Darcy and Balraj's snotty sister Kiran, Lalita meets an eye-candy surfer, Johnny Wickham, who reveals to her some past secrets of his association with Will Darcy and how Will ruined his life. Outraged by this new information, Lalita writes Darcy off and will have nothing to do with him. Meanwhile, she invites Johnny to stay with her family to see Amritsar, much to the delight of her younger sister Lakhi who develops an immediate crush on Wickham. When Lalita's idiotic cousin, Mr Kholi from America comes to India for a prospective traditional bride, Mama pushes him into Lalita's direction only to have an already outraged Lalita turn him down. 

Namrata Shirodkar as Jaya Bashki and Aishwarya Rai as Lalita Bashki
     Shortly afterwards, Mr. Kholi has asked Lalita's best friend, Chandra to marry him, Johnny leaves for another part of India and Mr. Balraj makes an unexpected trip back to London. Both Jaya and Lalita are confused and saddened at the fact that their only chances of love and marriage are gone. Then an interesting twist of fate intervenes when the Bashki family are invited to Mr. Kholi and Chandra's wedding in LA. Coincidentally enough, the wedding is being held at Mr. Darcy's family hotel. 

     While in Las Angeles, Lalita sees a completely different Mr. Darcy. The man she once thought was arrogant and rude, turns out to be a kind and protective older brother who shows Lalita the beauty and splendor of California and even gets an unexpected marriage proposal from him. Only Will's mother has other plans when she brings, who she considers Will girlfriend Anne de Bourgh to the wedding, setting Lolita's original feeling toward Will back into place.

Martin Henderson as Will Darcy
    Will goes after Lalita and reveals Wickham's identity to her and why he has hated the man for so long. He comes back in enough time to save Lalita's younger sister Lakhi from running off with Wickham. Afterwards Lalita realizes that she loves Will and her prejudice towards him dissolves even more when he brings Balraj around to propose to Jaya. Soon Lalita and Will find themselves throwing away their former past feelings of one another and accept that in spite of their differing cultures and social status, their unlikely love was meant to be.

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     This is considered pure Bollywood because of its incredible dance numbers, beautiful music and the rich colors of India are infused in every part of the movie. Romantic and funny, but with the same universal themes of class division and wrong first impressions that has kept the world entertained for 200 years (yeah it has been that long since the novel was published).

     The acting on all fronts was wonderful with a superb international cast list. India's top leading lady Aishwarya Rai as Lalita was elegant and perfect in her interpretation of Lizzie Bennett. She had a wonderful personable quality and fieriness that really made her Bollywood portrayal of the beloved character a great watch. New Zealand actor, Martin Henderson, gave the role of an American Darcy a great amount of justice. He played the ignorant all working American jerk to romantic love interest with absolute charm. 

     It was also great to see LOST's Naveen Andrews as the usually clueless in love Mr. Balraj. At first it's almost difficult to believe that the same actor who plays the calculating and secretive Sayid Jarrah as a hopeless romantic (although anyone who has seen LOST will know that Sayid could be romantic too, which is why he's my favorite character), but it just gave props to his wonderful acting. 

Naveen Andrews as Mr. Balraj
     Whether you're a lover of Jane Austen or Bollywood or both, this is just a fun movie to watch. I laugh and cry and I'm still amazed by the extraordinary dance scenes and have even developed an obsession with Punjabi music because of this movie! A great combination of Indian culture and modern America that brings East and West together in a perfect match. 

2 comments:

  1. Love this movie! As you say it makes us giggle and pays apt tribute to the original story. :)

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  2. Weirdly enough, I've never read Pride and Prejudice, seen the actual movie (any of them), but I have seen this. (It's amazing, the things you watch at friends' sleepovers.) :) I loved it at the time, though I don't remember what happened. (It's funny, even after reading this, very few mental bells are ringing... I think I was more tired than I thought.) :)

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