Bride and Prejudice (2004) is billed as a romantic drama. It’s directed by Gurinder Chadha, who is well-known for the highly-successful Bend it Like Beckham (2002). Chadha wrote the screen play with Paul Mayeda Berges, which is based on Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin. This Bollywood-style adaption of the novel is light-hearted fun. It opens by throwing the audience straight into Bollywood-style singing and dancing, and this sets the tone for the film.
The Bennets, the English family of Austin’s novel, become the Backshis in the film, an Indian family. The mother is desperate to have her four daughters marry respectable and rich men. The daughters have their own ideas as to whom they want to marry; especially Lalita Backshi. After some misunderstandings, Lalita marries Will Darcy, a handsome and rich American, and her older sister, Jaya, marries Balraj, an English barrister. They have a joint wedding, and ride off on elephants, to live happily ever after. This leaves everyone happy, including the parents.
Incidentally, being Bollywood-style, when Wickham tries to run off with Lakhi and ruin her life, instead of being forced to marry him, Lakhi is rescued by Lalita and Will Darcy. Much better ending, I thought. Beautiful Lakhi can now marry someone more suitable, and live happily ever after.
This film is a fairytale, and treats the story as such. My Film Group enjoyed it, as did I. I love the Bollywood-style singing and dancing, and had a challenge trying to keep still and not join in the dancing. The story is set in Amristar, the Punjab, in India, where the family live. I wished we had seen more of the Sikh Golden Temple at Amristar. The scene shifts to Goa, then London, England, and on to California, in the United States. Add to the exotic locations the beautiful people, colourful clothes, the weddings, the singing and dancing which fill the movie, and the atmosphere is so joyous it would be almost impossible not to be left feeling good.
Gurinder Chadha was born in 1960 in Kenya to a Sikh family, who became part of the Indian diaspora when they moved to England in 1962. She grew up to be very independent, and has gone on to have a distinguished career in radio, television, and now, film. Her films are distinctive in that they blend Chadha’s Sikh Indian background with the influences of her upbringing in England. This has created an unique flavour to her work that is highly entertaining. Obviously, I am not alone in this opinion. her work attracts huge audiences. She has a happy spirit she brings into her movies.
For a budget of $7 million, the box office for Bride and Prejudice was $24.7 million. Happiness pays off!