• Publication date: September 14, 2009

Bride & Prejudice Bride & Prejudice

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East meets West in Gurinder Chadha’s “Bride and Prejudice,” a modern day, cross ...

East meets West in Gurinder Chadha’s “Bride and Prejudice,” a modern day, cross cultural, and international take on Jane Austen’s nineteenth century classic “Pride and Prejudice.” The movie addresses the complications of Indian marriage practices, cultural miscommunication, and romance. So that some parallels can be drawn, those unfamiliar with Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” may benefit from a little background information before heading into Chadha’s interpretation. The nineteenth century work is the story of five sisters who live in rural England whose father desperately hopes that they can marry a wealthy young man. His dreams seem to be answered when a well-to-do gentleman from London named Mr. Bingley moves in next door bringing along his friend, Mr. Darcy. With the encouragement of Jane’s mother, she becomes very fond of Mr. Bingley. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to her, Mr. Darcy becomes interested in Jane’s younger sister, Elizabeth. Elizabeth despises Darcy however after he continuously demeans the countryside’s people; rumours she hears regarding his bad character and immorality add fuel to her hatred. When Mr. Bingley abruptly cuts relations with Jane, Elizabeth is infuriated and deduces (in error) that Mr. Darcy was responsible. Eventually, the reader learns that Bingley is infatuated with Jane and that Darcy is crazy about Elizabeth, even if her initial reaction is one of strong disinterest. While Austen’s novel revolves around class, character, and honesty, Chadha’s reinterpretation adds cross cultural miscommunication, ethnic discrimination, and the complexity of social customs. The characters remain essentially identical: Elizabeth (Lizzy) transforms into Lalita; Jane into Jaya. Mr. Darcy retains his name, yet he is an American businessman rather than a British solider; Mr. Bingley becomes Balraj, a London-native of Indian heritage. The men do not come from the city in this modern version, but from overseas – more precisely, the illustrious America. Mr. Darcy’s foul attitude toward rural Englanders becomes a mere matter of culture shock, and like Elizabeth, Lalita defends her people, forcefully labelling Darcy an ignorant imperialist. Austen’s work indirectly emphasizes the importance of character, morality, and good parenting. Chadha’s rendering drives home the need for cultural plurality and the importance of breaking down international barriers. Those who are familiar with the literary classic can likely guess the outcome of this new edition, though there are some twists along the way. For those who are new to the story, the ending will be a surprise. Nevertheless, both the well read and not so well read will remain entertained by the film’s over-the-top Bollywood-style production and impromptu music and dance routines. This movie is rated PG-13 due to some sexual references.