Bollywood meets Hollywood

Bride and Prejudice Trailer

Watching the trailer (YouTube link above) after the fact, the trailer seemed better than the movie itself. Than again the trailer seemed rather haphazard and doesn’t really convey to much truth about the film.

I’d have to say the poster is to encouraging either. Looks a bit cheesy in my opinion. Not really something that would draw my attention as far as wanting to go and see that movie.

Anyways to the movie itself. The film is supposed to be an attempt to Westernize the Bollywood ‘genre’ (which it really isn’t a genre) as well as retelling Pride and Prejudice. Sadly I feel that it fails on both accounts. Granted I’m not a huge expert on Indian culture, Pride and Prejudice, or Bollywood, but I don’t feel this film does justice to any of them, nor really does it portray the U.S. all that well in some respects.

Bollywood is known for producing movies that are basically melodramatic, large-scale musical sequences, and a cardboard plot that revolves around classic stereotypes of star-crossed lovers. While they sound a bit simple, especially when described like that, there really is quite a bit to them and the few I’ve seen were rather good.

Sadly the attempt to westernize that ‘genre’ failed in my eyes. Yes there is the basic romance plot with required characters, however the characters lacked quite a bit of development. For the most part none of the characters were really all that memorable. Maybe it’s because the names were foreign for me, but I don’t really recall any of the characters names. I also didn’t find the characters in this film as likable, which I suppose is partly lack of development. There wasn’t much of a chance to really connect to them.

Back to the plot, it hardly does Jane Austen any justice. I felt that they got the romance part and all the main characters were pretty much there and they even managed to fit some quotes from the novel, but it lacked a lot of the depth from the novel as well as the other film adaptations.

Naturally there was indeed music and on a large-scale. To me this failed as well. While it was entertaining to watch the musical sequences, I don’t really think I’d want to sit through them again. The music itself wasn’t all that catchy or memorable, which is big hit and miss. When a good portion of the film revolves around the music, the music should be something that sticks with you. For example, I say Nine this weekend (which I thought was pretty good) and I still have a few songs stuck in my head, particularly “Be Italian”.

Again, I don’t know much about Indian culture, but I don’t believe everything is quite so colorful all the time. The advantage of using those vivid colors however is that it does catch your attention.

The film seemed to be hitting on the differences between a more ‘traditional India’ and the ‘modern India’ as well as comparing Eastern culture to Western culture. While I think it does do this at points, again I felt like they failed. Sure there were some good one liners, usually at the expense of the U.S., but I didn’t feel like there was much depth to the comparisons. There seemed to be some odd continuity errors in regards to the costumes and sets. The film went back and forth between what I’m assuming is more ‘traditional Indian clothing’ and more western clothing. The same with the settings as well, especially with the house being styled to me like it was built by the British at one point. There was never any consistency in going between the traditional and modern look to me.

Overall the film seemed to be setting the bar rather high. It had a lot it wanted to achieve. West vs. east, East joining west (Bollywood and Hollywood), Old vs. new, rich vs. poor, race (a few ill looks regarding Darcy and Wickham), adapting Pride and Prejudice, and some others. There were so many things that the film seemed to be trying to accomplish, yet it failed to accomplish any of it in any really detail and in some respects at all. As simple as many aspects as the film were, there was still way to much.

For me it was entertaining to watch the film and it’s something I could watch again, but it’s not something that I take seriously. To me it’s a popcorn flick for when you’re really bored or want something to laugh at, though the cheesiness (and thus the humor) may ware off after multiple viewings. It’s not a film to watch with high expectations.

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Posted on April 13, 2011, in Old Nic At The Movies Posts. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I couldn’t have said it better myself, Nic. I agree that much of the movie fell short of its goals and was less than wonderful. I especially like that you pointed about the India vs. the U.S. comparisons; that was actually an interesting part of the movie that I felt could have been fleshed out quite a bit more with fewer stereotypes. That’s also a good point about race; the main girl’s mother’s reaction to Johnny Wickham was particularly telling.

  2. I wonder whether they were really making an attempt to Westernize the Bollywood genre, or whether it was the other way around, Bollywood focusing its energy on adapting Jane Austen. I’ve been puzzling over the reasoning behind a former (and fairly recently liberated) colony adapting a British film for its own interests. It seemed to me more like they were trying to take the Austen story and retell it through Indian culture. (Perhaps a semantic difference only, but if this were a literary journal, I’d be entitled to nit-pick.)

  3. I think your comments are right on the money. Good criticism is just what most film (and literature) needs. I am curious about “setting the bar too high.” You mentioned that you may be doing that. I think this is a good question. Where, as thinking movie goers, do we draw the line between realism, education, political correctness, and entertainment? Does the target audience dictate this, or do we all?

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