Bride and Prejudice (12A)
Time Out saysUsing Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ as the inspiration for a Bollywood movie is so obvious you wonder why no-one’s tried it before. The concerns of a twenty-first-century family in small-town India and Austen’s nineteenth-century characters are remarkably similar: a mother’s ambition drives her daughters towards early betrothment; wealth and status threaten to outweigh the importance of affection or compatibility; family loyalty is pitched against better judgement. These perennial intrigues hang on the friction between an arrogant but eligible bachelor (Martin Henderson) and the more sympathetic character of his quick-
witted potential bride (Aishwarya Rai).
But cinema-goers expecting a conventional British costume drama will be in for a shock. Chadha (‘Bend It Like Beckham’) has given Austen’s tale a Bollywood makeover: from the squirting fountains of the ‘wet sari’ scene to the absence of screen kisses, Bollywood style has been appropriated, and the plot stretched across three continents. Although some aspects of a Bollywood production can grate – the obvious dubbing of voices over an east-meets-west soundtrack, the occasional ham acting, the clumsy editing – it’s both surprising and funny. The principal weakness is that the ‘romance’ of the two lead characters is unconvincing; they are so different (a feisty feminist and a fumbling chauvinist) that their eventual chemistry seems phoney. Yet they both manage to overcome their pride, and prejudices, to arrive at a happy ending. So it’s Jane Austen – but it’s also Bollywood.