Bride & Prejudice (PG)

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The ViewNewcastle Review

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Review byMatthew Turner05/10/2004

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 105 mins

Energetic, colourful, enjoyable and well-acted film that is only let down by its disappointing songs.

Bride and Prejudice is the latest film from director Gurinder Chadha, whose previous film, Bend It Like Beckham, made a Hollywood star out of Keira Knightley. It’s entirely possible that Bride and Prejudice will do the same for Bollywood superstar Aishwarya Rai – she’s already the face of several ad campaigns.

Like ‘Beckham’, Bride and Prejudice takes an English cultural icon (in this case Jane Austen) and drops it into an Indian setting, or, in this case, gives it a total Bollywood make-over, complete with dancing and extremely dodgy songs.

Austen Ripe For Update

The characters and plot of Pride and Prejudice lend themselves remarkably well to an update. The Bennetts become the Bakshis and the importance of a “good” (arranged) marriage remains intact. Aishwarya Rai plays the Lizzie character (now Lalita), who finds herself falling for Martin Henderson’s blue-eyed Darcy, although several misunderstandings contrive to keep them apart.

The main sub-plot also survives, with the disreputable Mr Wickham (Daniel Gillies) here cast as a scruffy backpacker who sweeps Lucky (i.e. Lydia) off her feet after being invited to stay by the family.

The performances are extremely good, particularly Rai and Peeya Rai Chowdhary, who steals all her scenes as Lucky. As Darcy, Martin Henderson frequently looks a little bewildered (the amusing out-takes over the credits indicate that his bewilderment was probably genuine), but he’s charming and charismatic in the part (though, obviously, he’s no Colin Firth).

Flat And Unmemorable Songs

There’s also great support from Nadira Babbar (as Mrs Bakshi) and a hilarious comic turn from Nitin Ganatra as the bride-seeking Mr Kohli, an LA businessman seeking refuge from career women and lesbians – his scenes are definite highlights, even if his character is a little over the top.

As with a Bollywood movie, there are frequent bursts into song and dance routines. This works well on two levels, at once embracing the Bollywood style and also gently making it a pastiche. The dance routines, in particular are superb, although the same cannot be said for the songs, which are flat and unmemorable.

Also, you occasionally want everyone to stop singing and get back to the story – the out-takes do a good job of suggesting that the entire production was a non-stop party. On a similar note, the script could have been a lot sharper, as it misses several opportunities to apply Austen-like social commentary to today’s society.

That said, Bride and Prejudice is an enjoyable film with an infectious sense of energy and fun – it’s definitely the sort of film that’ll send you out of the cinema with a smile on your face, even if it’s not quite the film it could have been.

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Content updated: 24/07/2012 02:10

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