Last week a coworker and fellow Austen fan she made a reference to how Mr. Bennet handles Mary's performance at the ball (in Pride and Prejudice) in conversation. Maya's wonderfully horrific cobra dance in Gurinder Chadha's Bollywood-style adaption, Bride & Prejudice, leapt to mind so I mentioned it. When my coworker admitted to not having seen the film, I insisted that she borrow my copy. This weekend I decided that I need to watch Bride & Prejudice once more before it left the house.
I have a soft spot for Bollywood films (and I loved Chadha's Bend it Like Beckham) so Bride & Prejudice was never a hard sell to me. Bride & Prejudice isn't perfect (above all - there are only 4 Bakshi girls, Kitty didn't make the cut), but I think it's true to the spirit of the original. The contemporary Indian setting works really well for the story because inherent in it is a more rigid social hierarchy and behavioral expectations reminiscent of Austen's time. Mrs. Bakshi works perfectly as a by-the-book Mrs. Bennet and she's believable within the setting.
Martin Henderson doesn't do much for me as Darcy (Balraj/Bingley is much more my type) and Aishwarya Rai is a bit too gorgeous for Lizzie, but otherwise I think the casting is quite good. The musical interludes are pretty well integrated (which is not always the case with Bollywood movies), though I could have done without Ashanti's guest appearance. The cobra dance bit mentioned above is my favorite scene from the whole film. Also Lakhi/Lydia (Peeya Rai Chowdhary) is an absolute crack up.
Two thumbs up! But, skip it if musicals (or modern interpretations of Austen) drive you to distraction.
I suspect my coworker is more of a purist than I am so I may post a follow-up when I've heard her comments on the film.