Film / Bride and Prejudice

Quick-witted Lalita Bakshi is the second daughter in a family living in Amritsar, India. Her father dotes on her but her mother is determined to marry Lalita and her three sisters (Jaya, Maya, and Lakhi) off to respectable wealthy men. Her mother's fortune seems to look up, however, when the handsome and wealthy lawyer Balraj comes to town on the eve of a big wedding, his conceited sister Kiran and businessman best friend Will Darcy in tow. Jaya and Balraj seem perfect for each other, but Lalita finds Darcy arrogant and intolerant of Indian culture.

Sound familiar?

Bride and Prejudice is a 2004 film directed by Gurinder Chadha (who also directed Bend It Like Beckham), which gives Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice a Setting Update — to modern-day India. Events roughly parallel that of the novel, but punctuated with discussions of culture and gender, as well as several Bollywood dance numbers. The film stars Aishwarya Rai (Elizabeth/Lalita) and Martin Henderson (Darcy), as well as a host of other familiar faces.

Provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Name Change: Everyone. The majority of the cast is given Indian names similar to the original — for example, Elizabeth is Lalita, Jane is Jaya, Caroline is Kiran, Mr. Collins is Mr. Kholi, Charlotte is Chandra, and so on. The exceptions are Fitzwilliam Darcy, who's renamed to Will Darcy; and George Wickham, who's dubbed Johnny Wickham. Considering that Darcy's sister is nicknamed "Georgie," the latter change might also be observing the One Steve Limit.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Charlotte Lucas in the book is described as plain, and she accepts Mr Collins's proposal because she's unlikely to get another. Her counterpart here Chandra is just as gorgeous as Lalita, though depicted as more of a Shrinking Violet.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • Mr Kholi is still pompous and foolish, but he's also kind and grows to adore Chandra. The director specifically stated on the DVD commentary that she didn't want to depict the pair of them in a loveless marriage.
    • Mrs Bakshi is softened compared to Mrs Bennett. She's shown to be pompous but still good-natured - with a Pet the Dog moment here and there.
    • Kiran is also much nicer than her literary counterpart. In contrast to Caroline's snobbish attitude at the party, Kiran is shown sincerely enjoying herself. She also tries to warn Lalita off pursuing Wickham, and seems genuinely happy at the ending wedding.
  • Adaptational Karma: Wickham doesn't marry Lahki here, and gets slapped and punched by all the offended parties.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • Minor example. In the book Darcy is merely a little aloof at the party, and Lizzie is offended when she overhears him talking about her. Here he's shown to be very ignorant and says some rude things about Lalita's culture to her face. It's also implied that straight up racism has a part in his Relationship Sabotage.
    • Wickham's indiscretion with Darcy's sister is far more severe. In the book he ran off with her and tried to get her to marry him. Here he actually got her pregnant.
  • Affectionate Nickname: 'Georgie' for Darcy's sister.
  • Age Lift: Georgiana Darcy is implied to be a little older. Darcy talks about something that happened "when she was sixteen", and her actress Alexis Bledel was twenty-two during filming.
  • All Musicals Are Adaptations: Pride and Prejudice with a Bollywood twist. What's not to like?
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents:
    • Mrs Bakshi publicly talking about Knoli and Lalita, and Balraj and Jaya as if they're already engaged when all barely know each other - thoroughly embarrassing everyone.
    • Darcy's mother Catherine is no different, ignorantly talking about how she has no reason to visit India now that parts of Indian culture are now in America - said in front of a whole family of Indians.
  • Arch-Enemy: Darcy and Wickham, as in the original; Darcy despises him for what he did to Georgiana.
  • Arranged Marriage: We see the wedding of such a couple early in the movie. Also, Catherine has hopes of arranging her son's marriage to American businesswoman Anne.
  • Beta Couple: Jaya and Balraj fall in love with far less pomp and circumstance than Lalita and Darcy, fittingly for the Jane and Bingley analogues.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Darcy's mom is not nice. Anne also acts rather unpleasant, simultaneously mispronouncing Lalita's name and comparing it with a certain 1997 movie (although, bizarrely, not the 1958 novel).
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Lalita's younger sisters Maya and Lakhi.
  • Britain Is Only London: A justified example. Kiran and Balraj live in London but they're pretty rich and their business commitments would require them to live there. And the Bakshis travel there because they're getting a connecting flight.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Balraj and Kiran (the characters based on the Bingleys) were raised in England.
  • The Cameo: Ashanti appearing as herself, singing one of the songs.
  • The Casanova: Wickham, who got much further with Darcy's sister than he did in the book.
  • Citizenship Marriage: Chandra's main reason for accepting Knoli's proposal. It's also a motivation of Mrs Bahkshi to secure green cards for her daughters this way.
  • Composite Character:
    • The younger sisters Maya and Lakhi replace the three younger sisters of the original.
    • Kiran Balraj here stands in for both of Bingley's sisters from the original.
    • Georgie here takes on Fitzwilliam's role of talking about Darcy's Relationship Sabotage.
  • Crowd Song: More than one, but When Marriage Comes To Town is amazing.
  • Cultural Translation: Here the Bennets become native Indians, the Bingleys are second-generation Indians from England, Wickham is an English drifter and Darcy is an American WASP.
  • Culture Clash: Hmmm an American and a girl from India, what could possibly go wrong?
  • Daddy's Girl: Lalita and her father are the best of friends.
  • Distant Duet: Lalita and William Darcy have one that was cut from the movie.
  • Dumb Blonde: Anne is depicted as a vapid blonde who thinks Lalita's name is Lolita.
  • Fairytale Wedding Dress: The wedding outfits at the end are pretty grand, and Lalita wears a western style one in an Imagine Spot.
  • Falling in Love Montage: All of that happened in one night?
  • Fate Drives Us Together: Despite Darcy being based in America and Lalita in India, both are reunited in London through coincidence. And they're both guests at Chandra's wedding, despite Darcy barely knowing Knoli.
  • Fiction 500: The Darcy family appear to be the heads of a massive hotel empire.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Anyone who's read or seen Pride and Prejudice probably has a pretty good guess who Lalita's going to end up with.
  • Giftedly Bad: The Cobra Dance is kind of astonishing in a not good way.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Subverted. Georgie was gotten pregnant at sixteen and they aborted it.
  • Grand Romantic Gesture: At the end of the film, with drums.
  • Hotter and Sexier: The 'turn about the room' sequence from the book becomes a poolside scene, with all the characters in swimsuits.
  • I Want Grandkids: This is the concern of the girls' mother Manorama Bakshi.
  • ...In That Order: This gem from Mrs Bakshi - "No boy is allowed within ten feet of you until you're married."
  • The Jail Bait Wait: Wickham got Georgie pregnant when she was sixteen. If it happened in England, she would have been within the age of consent. If America, it would be statutory rape.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: Compared to what happened in the book. Wickham gets slapped hard by both Lalita and Lakhi.
  • Last-Name Basis: Used as a measuring stick for how Lalita feels about someone. She refers to Darcy by his last name until the third act when she's warmed to him. Conversely she calls Wickham by his first name until he stops returning her messages.
  • Marriage Before Romance: Mrs Bahkshi speaks in favour of this trope, citing it as a reason that Lalita should have married Knoli. It's ultimately played straight for the latter and Chandra - which the director stated was because she didn't want Chandra to be trapped in a loveless marriage.
  • Marry for Love: Lalita wishes this over an arranged marriage.
  • My Beloved Smother: Lalita remarks that she feels sorry for Darcy as soon as she meets his mother.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Martin Henderson slips back into his natural accent when he says "not really no".
  • Out of Focus: Maya after she performs her Cobra Dance.
  • Pet the Dog: Kiran tries to sincerely warn Lalita away from Wickham.
  • Power Hair: Kiran has this type of hairstyle to contrast with the long, flowing hair of the Bahkshi sisters.
  • Related in the Adaptation: Well Darcy and Lady Catherine were already related in the book (nephew and aunt) but here they're bumped up to mother and son.
  • Relationship Sabotage:
    • Balraj's sister Kiran doesn't really like Jaya or Lalita.
    • Darcy also does this, as per the book.
  • Rule of Funny: Darcy and Wickham have a fight in front of an old Hindi movie, that, despite them not even paying attention to the movie, matches the fight scene shot for shot.
  • Setting Update: The movie takes place in India, England and California.
  • Smitten Teenage Girl: Running off with an older man may sound romantic...
  • Spontaneous Choreography: Especially "When Marriage Comes To Town".
  • Sugar and Ice Personality: Kiran is an Aloof Dark-Haired Girl who shows occasional moments of softness.
  • Teen Pregnancy: What happened to Georgie.
  • The Theme Park Version: Lalita chews Darcy out for thinking of India in this way, saying he just wants "five star comfort with a bit of culture thrown in".

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