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BRIDE & PREJUDICE

SYNOPSIS:
The Bakshis of Amritsar have four lovely daughters, and Mrs Bakshi (Nadira Babbar) is determined to get them all married off into the right hands and right family. Her first target is the expatriate Balraj (Naveen Andrews) who jets home for a wedding - someone else's. Mrs Bakshir reckons he'd be ideal for her eldest, Jaya (Namrata Shiorodkar). Balraj has brought his sister Kiran (Indira Varma) and best friend, US hotel chain heir Darcy (Martin Hendesron). Darcy immediately notices second eldest daughter, Lalita (Aishwarya Rai), but she snubs his apparently arrogant and snobbish approach. And when Lalita meets the footloose Johnny Wickham (Daniel Gillies), the love triangle is complete - except the secrets that surprise Lalita and confuse her as to which is the right man for her.

Review by Louise Keller:
A colourful collision of cultures and attitudes, Bride and Prejudice is an energetically vibrant reworking of Jane Austen's story about love and marriage. There are four weddings and no funerals in this uplifting and entertaining musical, and that's not counting the marriage between Bollywood and Hollywood. In Bend It Like Beckham, it is the soccer stud with the diamond earring who is writer/director Gurinder Chadha's inspiration; this time it's Austen's characters, whose corsets have been unlaced and replaced by saris, and conservatism abandoned for song and dance.

Irrespective of the time shift when the story is set, the theme of finding the perfect match is timeless. And while the notion of arranged marriages may have changed, it is not too hard too imagine a maniacally scheming mother who wants to see her daughters married. The story line? Boy meets girl and although the chemistry sizzles, there are misunderstanding, complications that traverse three continents before a happily-ever-after ending. Of course the film's poetic licence is as liberal as its zest for life. After all, a Bollywood musical, at times reminiscent of Grease, dictates that happiness is found in all shades of hot pink, purple, red, green, yellow and blue. No excuse is needed to break out in song, and the routines with their kaleidoscope of colours, textures and rhythms that include an amusing cobra-dance, are exuberant and highly enjoyable

From the first time we spy the ravishing former Miss World Aishwariya Rai (Devdas) as Lalita, the book-loving beauty with a mind of her own, we are smitten. As is Martin Henderson's insensitive Darcy, who starts off rather blandly, but does warm up by the time we get to his five star Hollywood hotel. The humour comes from a wicked turn by Nitin Ganatra as the vulgar Mr Kholi who makes hilarious attempts to impress in his desperation to find himself a wife. Nadira Babbar is wonderful as the matchmaking mum who will stop at nothing to make sure her daughters are properly married.

Appropriately enough, romance heads in the right direction somewhere between London and LA, when Darcy swaps his first class airline seat with Lalita's mother, allowing 10 hours of conversational opportunity with the girl of his dreams. The cast is as diverse as the culture and locations, and although the course of love is never smooth, this Bollywood style musical assures us of never a dull moment.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
All the old fashioned virtues of husband chasing, the traditions of matchmaking and the filmmaking style of Bollywood come together for an explosion of colour, comedy and choreography in Gurinder Chadha's follow up to Bend It Like Beckham. She brings the original premise up to date, but only enough to contemporise the settings and the dialogue. A single man with a decent bank account has not lost his attraction, never mind what era we are talking about - post feminism or not.

The adapted story works well, providing an Indian cultural setting that replaces Austen's class structured English scene. The parallels are perhaps an unintended comment on the universality of class snobbery, whether it is inverted or upright, sideways or traditional, genuine class or nouveau riche. Speaking of which, comedy arrives in the form of Mr Kholi (Nitin Ganatra), a successful expat accountant now working in Los Angeles, where he enjoys the trappings of newfound money, in questionable taste.

Of course the stars are exactly right and satisfying: the sublimely beautiful Aishwarya Rai as Lalita and Martin Henderson as the somewhat restrained Darcy. Their romance doesn't blossom readily, giving the filmmakers plenty of time to work us into a state of suspended romantic animation. All the supports are excellent, from the wonderfully busy and melodramatic Nadira Babbar as Mrs Bakshi to the other sisters and intruder Johnny Wickham (Daniel Gillies), whose wicked charms threaten the peace when little sister Lakhi (Peeya Rai Chodhuri) develops a crush on him.

The musical numbers are high energy and vibrantly staged (and costumed) and the dramatic elements give the film enough traction to make it a lively and lightweight but engaging affair.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

BRIDE & PREJUDICE (PG)
(US/UK)

CAST: Aishwarya Rai. Martin Henderson, Daniel Gillies, Naveen Andrews, Indira Varma, Namrata Shirodkar, Peeya Rai Chodhuri, Maghnaa, Nadira Babbar, Anupam Kher, Nitin Ganatra, Marsha Mason, Alexis Bledel, Sonali Kulkarni

PRODUCER: Deepak Nayar, Gurinder Chadha

DIRECTOR: Gurinder Chadha

SCRIPT: Paul Mayeda Berges, Gurinder Chadha (novel Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Santosh Sivan

EDITOR: Justin Krish

MUSIC: Vraig Pruess

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Nick Ellis

RUNNING TIME: 111 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 17, 2005

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Entertainment

VIDEO RELEASE: May 5, 2005







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