Written by Paul Mayeda Berges and Gurinder Chadha
Directed by Gurinder Chadha
Running Time: 1:51
for some sexual references.
Bride and Prejudice was a fun mix of Hollywood and Bollywood that started off strong but slowed down halfway through. All in all, it was a fun ride.
Enter the Bakshi family. Mr. and Mrs. Bakshi (mostly Mrs. Bakshi) want to get their four beautiful daughters married off to good husbands. The eldest daughter Jaya has to go first, before the rest can go, including the 'jewel of Amritsar' Lalita, the queen of the cobra dance Maya, and the youngest, boy-crazy Lucky. At the wedding of a friend, they meet eligible bachelor Balraj, a transplanted Indian living in the UK. All the women drool over him, hoping he'll choose their daughter. Balraj and Jaya immediately hit it off, leading Mrs. Bakshi to start looking for men for her second child, Lalita. Lalita initially has eyes for Balraj's American friend, William Darcy, but to her, William is the embodiment of everything that is wrong with non-Indians. He's arrogant and thinks of India as a backwards country where arranged marriages rule and you can never find a decent internet connection. While in Goa, from out of the water comes Johnny Wickham, a man with a past connected to William, but enough charm to sweep Lalita off her feet. Mrs. Bakshi has other plans and finds green card holder Mr. Kholi to win over her daughter. Poor Lalita has to break one man's heart, and have her heart broken time after time. But in the end, well, you can guess how this one turns out.
It'll be interesting to see what the reaction is to Bride and Prejudice. I thought the movie was a lot of fun and a good mix of East and West. It kind of reminded me of an Indian version of Grease in that people would randomly break out into song, but unlike in Bollywood films where a lot of the time the songs seem to come out of nowhere, these songs were at least integrated into the story. The first half of the movie was a great mix of comedy and music and beautiful colors. The first musical sequence, which takes place at a wedding, was a great introduction to the Bollywood style of filmmaking with a large number of people breaking into choreographed dance steps without ever having met each other previously. It was the same thing with the next musical sequence which takes place in a marketplace, but this time there was a twist. The singing was in English. Seeing Aishwarya Rai break into an English-language song was funny and a little weird, but for some reason, it all seemed to work. The sequence was beautiful to watch because it was filled with rich colors and a cast of attractive and very quirky characters. My favorite musical number was either that one, or the one with the four daughters, all dressed in white, singing about 'no life without wife' if only because there were four attractive women dancing around in their pajamas. Throw in a pillow fight and you've got every man's image of what an all girls sleepover looks like. But I digress.
Aishwarya Rai is being promoted as 'the most beautiful woman on the planet,' an award she actually won a few years back when she was crowned Miss World. I don't necessarily agree with that idea and felt that most of the women in the movie were pretty damn attractive, with the eldest daughter Jaya (Namrata Shirodkar) and the youngest daughter Lucky (Peeya Rai Chowdhary) actually looking better. But there is no denying that Aishwarya has got a presence about her so no matter who else is on screen, your eyes will always travel to her. Is she a great actress? Not especially, but she's also not a horrible one. None of the actors in the movie really stood out for their acting abilities, but the cast worked well together. Having Naveen Andrews on board was a stroke of good luck, as he is currently being seen by 20 million people a week on the hit show Lost. The most memorable character, just for his sheer comedic buffoonery was Nitin Ganatra's Mr. Kholi. His over-the-top performance added a good comic touch to a film that started to get too serious and dramatic.
While the first half of the movie moved along at a quick pace and had a lot of fun moments, once it got into the heart of the story, the movie felt like it hit the slow button. There were some funny moments (like the choir on the beach of Los Angeles combined with the dancing lifeguards) but for the most part, the movie concentrated on the budding romance between Lalita and Will and even added a very serious story about Wickham running off with Lucky and what might happen between them. It almost felt like the director didn't want the entire movie to be a wink and a nod to Bollywood and old school Hollywood musicals, and wanted to take the film into the traditional Bollywood dramatic circle. I never got bored, even though I've now seen the movie twice, but I did wish for some more comedy and for the first time I can imagine, more happy dance numbers.
The one aspect I found really funny is the fact that no one ever kissed in this movie. With all the romance going on, there was no smooching, which is totally in line with Bollywood films. Until recently, you never ever saw people kissing on screen, and this movie kept setting you up for those typical moments where two people get close to each other, in the rain with dramatic music playing, but it never happened. I was able to go to the press interviews and talk to Martin Henderson and over and over again he kept saying how frustrating it was to be next to Aishwarya all the time but never getting the chance to kiss her! Martin, I think we all feel your pain, but at least you got a hug from her at the post-screening party, while I got to watch her blow by me on her way out the door. And yes, I'm fully aware that many of you are saying, well, at least you got to stand a few inches from her. And you're right, I'm very happy I got to stand a few inches away from Aishwarya Rai. And yes, I may be bragging about that for years to come.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I enjoyed Bride and Prejudice. If it had been able to sustain the pace it set in the first half of the film, I would have enjoyed it more, but in the end, it's a fun and funny movie with a solid bunch of actors, some beautiful women (and handsome men) and some cool musical numbers. It's a good way of easing yourself into Bollywood movies if you've never seen any. I've already seen it twice in the theaters and would be willing to see it again on the big screen.
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