Bride and Prejudice
Runtime: 1 hr 52 min
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Gurinder Chadha
Starring: Aishwarya Rai, Martin Henderson, Nadira Babbar, Anupam Kher, Naveen Andrews, Namrata Shirodkar, Sonali Kulkarni
The musical sequences are infectious delights.
Review by: MiamiMovieCritic
Added: 7 years ago
Bride and Prejudice, directed by the gifted Anglo-Asian filmmaker Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham), tackles Jane Austen with a largely Indian cast.
The four beautiful Bakshi sisters, living in upper middle-class style in Amritsar, India, are in the market for husbands. The oldest sister, Jaya, is falling for Balraj Bingley, a wealthy British Indian. Balraj’s American friend, Will Darcy, goes after Lalita, who in turn prefers a British backpacker named Johnny Wickham.
Some of these characters are transposed directly from Austen’s typically wicked novel, Pride and Prejudice. Lalita closely resembles Lizzie Bennett in her sharp-tongued wit and feminist resistance, and is played here by the gorgeous Bollywood superstar Aishwarya Rai. The director’s biggest departures from the novel are cultural and musical, revisions that pay off in the film’s sparkling first hour.
For a while, Bride and Prejudice is Bollywood at its best. The musical sequences are infectious delights, aided by lavish choreography and swirling displays of pastel-colored costumes. Unfortunately, the film loses much of its color and vibrancy when the action moves away from India. One problem is the increasing presence of the actor Martin Henderson (he played the doomed boyfriend in The Ring) as Darcy. Henderson’s bland delivery bleeds the movie dry, and I kept hoping that creepy little girl from The Ring would crawl out of a television set and get him again.
The bigger problem has to do with Bollywood itself, which has a style that works in India and nowhere else. It’s no wonder the film’s musical numbers virtually disappear as the plot takes Lalita to London and later to Hollywood, where our heroine transforms into just another generic princess, a cinematic stepsister to Hilary Duff or Julia Stiles.
The hilarious Nitin Chandra Ganatra steals the show as an Indian living in Hollywood who invites Lalita to stay at his “crib” because “it’s the bomb.”