A Story of Miss Understanding

“Bride and Prejudice” is the Bollywood version of Jane Austen’s celebrated novel Pride and Prejudice. For a contemporary approach, it is quite fitting that the story is transplanted in India where the business of arranged marriage is still practiced. At the center of the story is the sensible Lalita Bakshi (Aishwarya Rai), who, along with older sis Jaya, is at plum age for marrying. She has three potential suitors: William Darcy (Martin Henderson) is a disdainful hotel heir from America; Johnny Wickham (Daniel Gilles) is a good-looking Brit who, in hunk fashion, first emerges out of the ocean shirtless; and Mr. Kholi is a creepy Indian-American accountant who’s unfortunately also mother-approved.

A familiarity with Austen’s novel will make the plot predictable but fortunately, there’s still much to discover. Besides the Bollywood staple of colorful song and dance numbers, this one contains a gamely international cast led by the most beautiful Aishwarya Rai. She is delightful as Lalita, a character who likes to think she’s shrewd when it comes to understanding people. (Why is it so easy to believe beautiful people are judgmental?) The adaptation is not too shabby either since the book’s theme of social class now expands towards racial and cultural differences. Indeed, the pairing of a classy Brit lit and a cheesy Bollywosical is something a matchmaker would be proud to recognize.

As for flaws, the movie has a flair for committing them. Plot holes, inert acting, and the works. Even the songs are hardly memorable or hummable. My explanation for my high rating is simple. This is a guilty pleasure, which affirms that I’m foremost a movie lover before a recreational critic. The highest praise I can give this film is its ability to escape my critical eye. It’s only upon reflection I realized the movie mostly consisted of mediocre parts. But the whole effect is a fantastic indifference to flaws and an inclination to let loose and be uplifted by the energy. It’s alive in spirit and kills any sense of guilt.

Grade: A