A Bollywood-style update of Jane Austen's classic tale, in which Mrs. Bakshi is eager to find suitable husbands for her four unmarried daughters. When the rich single gentlemen Balraj and Darcy come to visit, the Bakshis have high hopes, though circumstance and boorish opinions threaten to get in the way of romance. Written by
Inspired by Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, this Western-style Bollywood musical can't possibly achieve the heights that a union of the best of East and West movie making and English literature might suggests, but it manages to fulfil a delightful couple of hours of song and dance that Western cinema these days struggles to accomplish.
Like the novel, Bride and Prejudice uses the ideas that that first impressions are often wrong, and that a person can mature if he or she keeps an open mind. The unlikely courtship of Mr Darcy and (in our movie) a beautiful Indian girl starts with mutual contempt, but moves forward as they become wiser and learn that their first instincts, based on pride, prejudice and illusions, were wrong.
The scene moves between Amritsar and Goa to London and Beverley Hills, all in brighter-than-bright super-saturated colour, with an assortment of equally colourful characters, wonderful costumes, lavish dance pieces and heavenly bollywood-style ballads. While almost everything is in English (except for a few subtitled songs), nearly all the characters are top Indian performers.
In the golden age of musicals, stars such as Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire had a whole sub-industry to draw on for good dancers who could also sing and act well, plus the technicians used to producing high-end musicals. As demand waned, so did supply, and the West is now hard pressed to produce song and dance films that don't rely on snappy editing to suggest good dancing from top actors, or heavy coaching to suggest top dancers can act. Bollywood, on the other hand, has no such shortage, and Bride and Prejudice is the sumptuously choreographed musical with Indian dancing that has become nigh impossible with western dancers.
Admittedly it's a bit cheesy at times - but it's self-consciously so, and as endearing as warm, gushy Indian hospitality. The sets and dialogue give authentic, if stereotypical, glimpses of Indian life and values. Like many east-meets-west movies, the stereotypes are a handle to allow easy assimilation of foreign ideas, and the heavy Indian involvement wards off any tendency to patronise (which is one of the themes explored in the film).
This is not high drama or high art, but it's an accomplished romantic comedy / song-and-dance film, and one that warms the heart and makes you want to wave your arms in the air Indian-dance-style for the sheer joy and exuberance of happy endings.
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