Bride And Prejudice
Starring: Aishwarya Rai, Martin Henderson, Namrata Shirodkar,
Director: Gurinder Chadha
Music Director: Anu Malik
Liz and Darcy, Rhett and Scarlet, Jane Eyre and Rochester? for those of us who grew up on these legendary love stories, Chadha's Bride? is a huge let-down. Where is the crackling chemistry that made the relationship of proud Elizabeth Bennet and arrogant richie Darcy in Jane Austen's classic novel, memorable? Two few moments were given to these two in the movie and one wonders why. In fact, not much had to be devised, with inspiration from Pride and Prejudice being all there to pick up in chunks.
Austen's Bennett brood is relocated to semi-urban Amritsar as the Bakshis in Chadha's tale, where corsets give way to saris and strains of the piano are replaced by the robust rhythms of bhangra and the dainty beat of the garba. Lalita (Aishwarya Rai) meets the wealthy American Will Darcy [Martin Henderson] at a wedding and sparks fly. But is it love or hate? Darcy comes across as an arrogant Californian snob. Alternately enchanted by and suspicious of one another, Lalita and Darcy nearly fall prey to assumptions, gossip and a comedy of errors? until pride is humbled and prejudice overcome, so that love can triumph.
Martin Henderson as the 'American Born Confused Darcy' is likeable. He may not charm you off your feet a la Cruise or an Affleck, but he does manage to look the character he portrays. Nadira Zaheer Babbar as Mrs Bakshi, is simply superb. One can't help but love her flaw-ridden character laced with dollops of candor. And Aishwarya Rai? Well, with Bride being her first English film, the former Miss World has finally arrived on the global cinema scene and she does make Lalita credible, never mind the critics lambasting her for her put-on accent.
Chadha narrates a characteristically Victorian saga in the classic Bollywood style replete with naach-gaana, humorous moments and a happy ending. Though the novel was far more gripping, Gurinder makes it up with exuberance and wit. And she does deserve to be lauded for having dared to give Jane Austen a multicultural makeover. Yes, one jarring note: Punjabis have come a long way from being the stereotypes you have projected them to be, Gurinder.
But do go and see the film. For its joyousness and its riot of colors. Bride? may not be a great film but it's great fun. Balle balle!
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