Image Courtesy of www.DVDsoon.com
Aishwarya Rai……….Lalitha Bakshi
Martin Henderson……….William Darcy
Nadira Babbar……….Mrs. Bakshi
Anupam Kher……….Mr. Bakshi
Naveen Andrews……….Balraj Bingley
Namrata Shirodkar……….Jaya Bakshi
Daniel Gillies……….Johnny Wickham
Indira Varma……….Kiran Bingley
Sonali Kulkarni……….Chandra Lamba
Nitin Chandra Ganatra……….Mr. Kholi
Meghna Kothari……….Maya Bakshi
Peeya Rai Chowdhary……….Lakhi Bakshi
Alexis Bledel……….Georgie Darcy
Marsha Mason……….Catherine Darcy
I don’t think Jane Austen would imagine her novel about love and relationships, Pride and Prejudice turning into an over the top spectacle of singing, dancing and internationalization. Her story about people from opposite ends of the socio-economic ladder falling in love is one that has been copied, imitated and redone several times on the big and small screens. With all of the hip-shaking, guitar playing and dance numbers that dominate this movie, Austen would’ve been mightily surprised to see story turn into a musical inspired by the great musicals of the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rodgers era. And she would’ve loved it.
Bride and Prejudice is the Bollywood adaptation of Austen’s novel. Bollywood is the Indian version of Hollywood and its’ style of cinema is much different than the American version. Movies are a crockpot of styles, featuring action sequences, dance numbers, comedy routine and dramatic moments all in the same movie. Usually lasting more than three hours and featuring an intermission, Bollywood movies are a much different movie experience than the norm. Bride & Prejudice is an attempt by Bollywood to bring this medium to an American audience. As an introduction, there aren’t too many other movies that can top the infectious fun and spectacular look of Bride & Prejudice.
Bride follows the romance between Lalita Bakshi (Aishwarya Rai), a small town Indian woman, and her American suitor Will Darcy (Martin Henderson). Lalita’s mother has four marriage age daughters (Lalita, Jaya, Maya and Lucky) and wants them married as soon as they can. Lalita disapproves of her mother’s constant attempts at marrying her off, wanting romance and love to be more prevalent than her mother’s approval for her marriage. Suitors also appear for her sisters and her friends; the movie is about finding love and the standards by which you judge your happiness, as Lalita’s version of what love is and everyone else’s is much different and provides a stark contrast with the world around her. It’s a commentary of sorts on the differences between the rich and the poor, small towns and big cities and how there are lots of pressures on both sides to be live in the ‘traditional’ way.
The plot is nice and has a nice logical progression to the movie, but that’s not its primary function. The story itself is more or less an excuse to break into song and dance at the most convenient times possible. Much like the movies Rogers and Astaire used to make, having some visually stunning and catchy song and dance numbers is the main goal. Point to point the story goes, and when it end it’s time for another song and dance number. Normally this would be boring and/or repetitive, but the song and dance numbers are so much fun to watch and so well done that the pattern it is hardly noticed. The movie is fun and the people in it are having it while they are making the movie.
The cast and extras know this is fun and just goes full throttle. The singing and dancing are enhanced by the sheer joy; everyone is obviously enjoying what they do. It’s an infectious type of fun. In the song and dance numbers everyone is smiling and reveling in the moment, and it’s genuine. It radiates off the screen.
It doesn’t hurt that the movie looks absolutely spectacular. The colors are loud and vibrant and yet don’t overtake the picture. The traditional Indian garb is used throughout the movie and is just gorgeous; the crew took the time and effort to make every person on-screen, from the major characters to the extras shown for three seconds, just looking great.
The locations are also incredibly well selected. From Goa, India, to London, England and Los Angeles, California are all photographed quite well. With the sort of background and colors already on display, the scenery doesn’t play second fiddle. Chadha allows her scenery to impress without forcing it, and that’s the movie’s calling card. It aims to impress but doesn’t turn into an audio-visual overload.
Score : 9/10
Filled with vibrant colors and beautiful costuming, Bride & Prejudice is a plush, rich world that comes alive once again on this DVD. The color separation is superb. The Brights are bright, the darks are dark, and everything in-between is vivid and energetic. The transfer from film to DVD is perfect.
Score : 10/10
Presented in Dolby 5.1, this is a movie that has to have to a quality sound to it in order for the music to really dominate; this is a musical after all. And this is understood as the song and dance numbers come through loud and clear. The sort of infectious songs come through just as spectacular as they do in the theatre. If you’re looking for a score to test the limits of your system then this is DVD for you.
Score : 9.5/10
For a single disc release Bride & Prejudice is absolutely loaded with lots of extra features.
Commentary by director/co-writer Gurinder Chadha and cowriter Paul Mayeda Berges
Bringing Bombay to L.A.: The Making of Bride & Prejudice. This ten-minute making of featurette is about the unique process of meshing the Bollywood style with the western sort of style. The cast and crew speak about trying to mesh the different styles of the song and dance numbers, which were written in India and then stylized with western hip-hop to try and produce a hybrid style for the American audience. It’s the sort of musicals that Chadha grew up with from Bombay and a lot of what she is trying to do is an attempt at recreation of these style of musicals meshed with a lot of visual cues from Western musicals like Grease.
Six Deleted Scenes from the movie are there to view as well. They were deleted for fairly obvious reasons, as they are aren’t fully needed for the story. They are more exposition that is easily overcome with bits of dialogue.
Extended Songs are full length feature versions of the movies main song and dance numbers. “Marriage Song,” “Take me to Love,” “My Lips are Waiting” and “No Life without wife” are all given much longer lengths, more akin to a music video than the dance numbers they are given in the film. They are incredibly done, as the scenes used in the movie and those that are included in the extended scenes are rendered with the same video quality as the movie is.
Ashanti’s Song is Chadha’s explanation of the “Item Number” concept involved in the sequence for Ashanti’s song in the movie, “Take me to love.” And “Item Number” in Bollywood is one in which a scantily clad woman does a provocative song and dance number that really doesn’t have much to do with the movie. It’s there to just provide a quality song with gratuitous shots.
The Crew Does the Songs In their down time, some of the cast and most of the crew of the movie decided to do a three minute version of the opening number to the movie as well as other movie sin the song. The crew was obviously pretty tired and they’re just expressing a sort of pent-up sort of energy from filming the movie.
A Conversation with actors Aishwarya Rai and Martin Henderson features the two main stars of the movie talking about the movie itself. Rai spends her times speaking about the movie as a modern re-telling of the story and how it is a love story that is universal. She talks a lot about how this is her first “English” film and the differences between the Bollywood style and the Western style. Henderson talks about his initial experiences in Indonesia with the Bollywood style and his reactions after reading the script. He talks a bit more about his character and how it is sort of the Western view of the Bollywood style, as it is a bit inaccessible to the Western viewer and how it turns into his assimilation to it.
Score : 9/10