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4 reviews, 33 user ratings

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Bride & Prejudice
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by Jay Seaver

"Hollywood's latest attempt to steal a foreign star."
3 stars

Part of what Hollywood does is pillage other film industries. We've been raiding England for most of a century, Australians happily hide their accents to get access to those big Hollywood budgets, and it seemed like half the people making action movies in Hong Kong tried to stick in the US for a while in the nineties. People have completely forgotten that Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek used to do mainly Spanish-language work, and Paz Vega's first American movie was released last year. Now Hollywood has taken notice of India's booming film industry, and has lured one of "Bollywood"'s most popular actresses over. It's a pity that what appears to be the first in a string of English-language movies for Aishwarya Rai isn't much to write home about.

Bride & Prejudice[/]> is built for what seems to be the express purpose of introducing Bollywood to American (and, presumably, British) audiences. On that count, it does a decent job, although it's a somewhat watered-down version of Bollywood. It runs 111 minutes, long for a western romantic comedy, but Hindi movies are frequently an hour longer. There's a small amount of self-parody and pop-culture references thrown in, but they're all from a Western perspective (sure, I understand a joke about <I>American Idol</I> much better than one about its Indian equivalent, but I'd think both would be going on). And the story is adapted from a piece of Western literature, Jane Austen's <I>Pride & Prejudice</I> - hence the cute name which I subconsciously keep trying to alliterate to "Bride and Brejudice".

As the movie opens, a friend of sisters Lalita (Rai) and Jaya (Namrata Shirodkar) is getting married, which is call for a gigantic celebration that seems to include the whole town and bring other friends from London besides. One of them is Balraj Bingley (Naveen Andrews), who brings along his cousin Kiran (Indira Varma) and an American friend who was at Oxford with him, Will Darcy (Martin Henderson). Balraj quickly develops eyes for Jaya, while Will and Lalita find themselves paired off a lot. Not so much that the sisters' mother isn't throwing an unctuous Indian-American searching for a more traditional wife her way, or that she doesn't allow herself to be charmed by an old acquaintance of Darcy's (Daniel Gillies)

The biggest problem in the movie is Martin Henderson as Will Darcy. First off, he's got pretty much zero chemistry with Ms. Rai. I'm sure that somewhere in the script, sparks were flying between the two of them, but on the screen, it doesn't seem to be happening. We've got to believe, by the end, that there's a level of attraction between them that can overcome a rather rotten thing that he does off-screen. He has actions that counter it, but that just balances the ledger, so to speak - it doesn't make us want him to end up with Lalita. It also doesn't help that he's the male lead in a musical but doesn't have a song. Perhaps it's meant to represent a cultural difference (Indian people sing, Caucasian people don't?), but it leaves him as something of a cipher. The character's not totally charmless - I sort of enjoyed the bantering between him and Kiran - but considering that marrying (or even dating) him would require Lalita to leave her family and everything she knows to travel halfway around the world, he's just not worth it.

Oh, and about that rotten thing Darcy does (and the relative ease with which it's forgiven)... it's one of a number of flaws in the script that would each be forgivable themselves, but which taken together seriously weaken it. There's also a series of problems that could have been averted if one character had just kept talking where a reasonable person would keep talking. There's also a true overabundance of characters, including Lalita having a pretty much extraneous sister. At some point during the adaptation, a little consolidation might have helped.

The plot is marriage-oriented to an almost pathological degree - there are three over the course of the movie, all huge productions. The characters take pains to point out that arranged marriages between people who despise each other are a thing of the past - one describes the modern arranged marriage as being "more like a dating service" - and I've got no knee-jerk problem with the custom (the alternative, after all, is dating). Still, the idea of a good life without marriage is conspicuous by its abence.

On the plus side, most of the jokes do work, and most of the characters are quite likable. The song and dance numbers are also quite impressive. They don't always feature the most intricate choreography, but they are colorful and massive - great cast-of-thousands stuff. It's a very good-looking movie. The music is nice as well. I don't see any of the songs as being chart-toppers, but I kind of like that they can't be easily removed from the movie; but instead are part of it. Director Gurinder Chadha also does a good job in using multiple settings; the jumps between Amritsar, Goa, London, and Los Angeles keep the movie from dragging.

I can't claim to be any sort of Indian movie expert; I've seen between one and three movies (depending how you count Monsoon Wedding and The Warrior) from the country in my life. I think the biggest potential issue with Bride & Prejudice is that it is not one thing or the other, and may wind up being too Bollywood for American audiences and too Hollywood for Indian ones.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=11131&reviewer=371
originally posted: 03/03/05 18:46:48
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/23/15 jemyfsmkl USA 3 stars
2/24/13 daniel rice(mumbai) It was entertaning loved each minitue of it ending cud hav been better ash u wer superb. 4 stars
4/03/12 undocumented alien "Green card baby" 4 stars
1/02/12 joy music?great!!!storyline?ordinary!aishwara?stunningly beautiful!!!! 4 stars
10/30/10 chris occasionally entertaining twaddle. 2 stars
11/09/09 green I loved the movie 5 stars
8/18/08 Jinx Worst ending to a movie I have ever seen 2 stars
4/24/08 Debaser KILL ME 1 stars
1/19/08 Dave I agree with the reviewer. This movie is shit. 1 stars
6/17/06 jean aishwara was so great 5 stars
5/02/06 Ashley Hinz I enjoyed this film. I would like to buy it. 4 stars
4/13/06 jazz vibrant & affection - great adaptation 5 stars
2/02/06 Vega Aish is in blowjob state for the West 1 stars
11/26/05 ods great musical, colorful, optimistic 5 stars
10/25/05 Green Gremlin Well, at least it's entertaining. Loved that gospel choir !!! 4 stars
10/21/05 Candida Vittini Awsome 5 stars
9/27/05 John J. Aishwarya cannot act! 1 stars
9/02/05 aneeqa tariq its a nice movie i guess 'cause its somthing practical abt indian society n people. 4 stars
8/30/05 vinita bhatnagar The film is good because it effectively adapts jane austen's novel into an Indian context.y 4 stars
8/26/05 shishira overrated film overrated actress 1 stars
8/20/05 Kay H. Pretty Good Movie. 4 stars
8/05/05 anonomous didnt like it 2 stars
7/18/05 Popatbhai Patel Incredibly cliched, Aishwarya irritates beyond belief, unadulterated garbage 1 stars
7/05/05 Annoymous Very good movie but there should be more added in the ending 5 stars
3/20/05 Elizabeth S Not a romcom fan, but pretty entertaining. 3 stars
3/01/05 Darren Aishwarya Rai annoys in every movie. Worst actress, overrated 1 stars
2/21/05 Mohan S. Grewal Musical;without a message 3 stars
2/20/05 fiona If you can manage to get past the first 40 minutes of crap, then you'll enjoy it! 3 stars
2/17/05 Kelly Morab great girl, great colors. 5 stars
2/15/05 muskan best film mannnnnnnn 5 stars
2/09/05 dbx horrible, lame, overprocessed crap. Ick. 1 stars
2/01/05 Mark McConnell useless unoffensive crap 1 stars
11/16/04 Ranjit Kumar A clever feel-gooder. Worth the money. 5 stars
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  11-Feb-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 05-Jul-2005



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