LONDON -- Bride & Prejudice
is like an Elvis Presley
musical from the '60s, filled with shiny bright colors, bouncy music and happy, smiling, pretty people. Like those old pop vehicles, this upbeat blend of Bollywood and Jane Austen is an acquired taste. While the plot is inane and the acting bland, the film's relentless effervescence may endear it to mainstream audiences.
Director Gurinder Chadha
probably shouldn't expect to match the crossover appeal that made her last film, Bend It Like Beckham
, such a hit, but Bride & Prejudice
will succeed with moviegoers seeking an agreeably good time.
Chadha and co-writer Paul Mayeda Berges
have adapted Austen's Pride and Prejudice
to make the Bennet sisters the Bakshi sisters, taking them from rural England to rural India. There is a Mr. Darcy, however, in the form of a rich American hotelier.
The traditions and formalities of one culture appear to translate reasonably well though only lip service is given to the notion that the Bakshi family is poor. India has seldom been portrayed as so ravishingly clean and gorgeous.
The Bakshis live in Amritsar, an Indian town off the tourist track, where four beautiful girls are ripe for marriage and given every encouragement by their ambitious mother, Mrs. Bakshi (Nadira Babbar
). Reigning Bollywood queen Aishwarya Rai
plays the loveliest sister, Lalita, but the others -- Jaya (Namrata Shirodkar
), Lakhi (Peeya Rai Choduri) and Maya (Meghnaa) -- are also head-turners.
Potential suitors arrive in the form of the American Darcy Martin
Henderson), a London-based Indian named Balraj (Naveen Andrews
) and one Mr. Kholi (Nitin Ganatra), an Indian gentleman who has made a success of accountancy in Los Angeles. There's also a good-looking but smarmy British hunk named Johnny Wickham (Daniel Gillies
), who is at odds with Darcy.
The paths of romance hold true to the established patterns of Austen and Presley, which is to say there are several misunderstandings, the wrong things are said and feelings are hurt before love finds a way.
The locations are all made to look fabulous, from Amritsar and Goa to London and Beverly Hills, and the performers are all scrumptious. The music is loud and energetic, the dancing athletic and voluptuous. Resistance to the picture's evident wish to please becomes futile. In the end, it's impossible not to smile.
BRIDE & PREJUDICE
Pathe Pictures presents in association with U.K. Film Council and Kintop Pictures and Bend It Films a Nayah Chadha Prod. in association with Inside Track
Director: Gurinder Chadha
Writers: Paul Mayeda Berges
, Gurinder Chadha
Producers: Deepak Nayar
, Gurinder Chadha
Executive producers: Francois Iverned, Cameron McCracken
, Duncan Reid
Director of photography: Santosh Sivan
Production designer: Nick Ellis
Music: Craig Pruess
Costumes: Ralph Holes
& Eduardo Castro
Editor: Justin Krish
Lalita: Aishwarya Rai
Darcy: Martin Henderson
Balraj: Naveen Andrews
Kiran: Indira Varma
Jaya: Namrata Shirodkar
Lakhi: Peeya Rai Chodhuri
Mrs. Bakshi: Nadira Babbar
Mr. Bakshi: Anupam Kher
Wickham: Daniel Gillies
Mr. Kholi: Nitin Ganatra
Catherine Darcy: Marsha Mason
Georgie: Alexis Bledel
Chandra: Sonali Kulkarni
No MPAA rating
Running time -- 101 minutes