Guest Author - Rain Battle
Although this modern day version of Jane Austen's classic novel deserves a full page review, its release is limited and may not currently be available in your area. Originally published in 1813, the story of the Bennett family is the saga of how love relates to tradition, expectations, and what the heart yearns for. The original story is that of Elizabeth Bennett, the second eldest of five daughters. Although her maturity endears her to her serious father as his favorite, it causes a rift between herself and her shallow mother, who doesn't understand her lack of interest in finding an appropriate suitor.
When a new neighbor buys a nearby estate, two eligible bachelors are introduced to the family. Mr. Bingley, the wealthy gentleman who purchases the home and his close friend, Mr. Darcy, a rather proud confirmed bachelor. Things don't go as Mrs. Bennett has hoped, however. Mr. Bingley is immediately drawn to Jane, the oldest of the Bennett girls and due to a misunderstanding, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth hate each other almost on sight. Despite her obvious contempt for him, Mr. Darcy finds Elizabeth's feisty confidence appealing and falls in love with her, even going as far as proposing. Of course Elizabeth is shocked that he would ask and quickly turns him down. Later, when Jane's new beau suddenly skips town, Elizabeth is furious at him and his friend, Mr. Darcy. Only later when Mr. Darcy explains himself in a letter, does Elizabeth realize her true feelings for him and hopes it isn't too late.
Pride and Prejudice, as it is actually titled, first made the transition to film in 1940. This is the first version from Bollywood (a nickname for the Indian movie industry) and was made with the usual Bollywood formula: lots of singing, dancing, and romance.
Directed by Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham), this version is lots of fun - funny, well-paced, and well cast. Lalita Bakshi (Indian equivalent of Elizabeth Bennett) is played by former Miss World Aishwarya (ash-waar-e-ah) Rai, voted both the most beautiful woman in the world, and one of the most influential people of all time - a woman who has reached iconic staus in most of Southeast Asia. Mr. Darcy is played by New Zealander Martin Henderson (The Ring) and Mr. Bingley is Naveen Andrews (Sayid on "Lost"). Songstress Ashanti also makes a nice addition to the film in her cameo.
In this version, Mr. Darcy ventures to India to visit his friend Mr. Bigley and through him meets the Bakshi family at a wedding. Like the original, when Lalita Bakshi and Mr. Darcy first meet, she can't stand the man. Her only other alternative, however, is a slimeball character that her mother pushes her toward.
With the lavish production, including extensive dance and song numbers, colorful, elaborate costumes, and the unique beauty that only Bollywood provides, Bride and Predjudice is a bright, cheerful remake and should have you smiling if not humming along with the showtunes. The cast is fun to watch and the stunning Aishwarya Rai dominates many scenes with her infamous green-blue eyes and lovely figure which she "plumped up" by gaining twenty pounds for the role so that her character would appear more realistic.
The DVD Features:
* Deleted Scenes
* The Making of Bride and Prejudice
NOTE: The DVD is a real treat with lots of funny outtakes, more than five featurettes and an extensive photo gallery. It also has a detailed audio commentary. Be sure to check out the sing and dance along!