Analysis of the Book
Pride and Prejudice, a novel written by English author Jane Austen in the early 1800’s, was a book that served as a sort of a satirical social commentary on a multitude of subjects. The plot surrounds the same period as the book’s own publishing and touches on subjects such as gender roles, disparities in social class, and marriage. The story follows the wealthy and arrogant Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and his courtship to the charismatic and witty Ms. Elizabeth Bennett; a relationship that serves as the main conflict of the book as a result of the class differences between the two. The major plots explored in Austen’s novel include the development of mannerisms (or etiquette) in relation to social standing, the development (and subsequent abandonment) of unfounded pre-conceived notions between characters from different social classes, and as the title might suggest, the associated pride that comes with the aforementioned phenomena.
Analysis of the Film
Bride and Prejudice, the movie adaptation of Jane Austen’s original novel of [similar] name, is filmed in the style of “Bollywood”, the film industry known to the Hindi-speaking people that reside throughout much of India. The film, directed by Gurinder Chadha, follows the same basic plot as Austen’s book and maintains much of the same cast, despite being set in a completely different cultural backdrop. The themes of the novel also remain largely intact (marriage, being judgmental), with the exception of a change from conflicts stemming from “class” differences to those resulting from cultural differences as the courtship between Mr. Darcy and Lalita (Elizabeth) is one that reaches across ethnic boundaries. Another notable difference is the film’s inclusion of musical performances (a lyrical mix between Hindi and English) which add a degree of emotion, enthusiasm, or simply emphasis to a number of pivotal scenes that would be difficult to capture in literature. The change in the cultural setting results in a change in garb from that that was worn in 19th century England, as the whole cast was outfitted with traditional Indian garb; adding a very festive and colorful tone to the film as a result.
Bride and Prejudice is an effective adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel in that in captures its major themes despite being in a drastically different setting (both in place and time). However, it could be argued that the impact of the film’s message surrounding the relinquishment of prejudices for the sake of love, did not translate as well. The premise of overcoming prejudice that was seen in Pride and Prejudice was so remarkable because of the negative preconceptions that stemmed from a notion as seemingly insignificant as one’s social standing. On the other hand, Bride and Prejudice modernizes the idea today’s context in which globalization is supposed to have dissolved class disparities in democratized nations and much of the conflict in the modern era instead results from major cultural barriers in areas such as customs, religion, and especially language. Thus, although the message remains largely the same, the ridiculousness of the initial tension loses much of its impact to more relatively more justified disparities (those being cultural not gender-related). In addition, despite Jane Austen’s sardonic style of writing, the book still had a degree of seriousness and definite believability. The film, however, loses these traits during the musical scenes which add a much more fantastical experience and take a degree of realism away from many of the scenes.
3rd Party Sources
The script of an interview between about.com’s Rebecca Murray and actor Martin Henderson (Mr. Darcy), that gives a western actors perspective on acting in a new cultural setting.
An interview between Jamie Russell of BBC Movies and director Gurinder Chadha that covers a variety of subjects including the difficulties in adapting a movie across language and cultural barriers.
A forum thread dedicated to Bride and Prejudice on a blog site dedicated to Bollywood films as a whole and events occurring in the film community.
- B. It is often the case that an interview conducted with the director of a film will give one more insight into the creative process that occurred in its creation and this particular interview is no exception. The dialogue between Russell and Gurinder Chadha affords readers the opportunity to step away from the “Austen-to-Bollywood” question, and enter the “Bollywood-to-Austen” perspective. First and foremost, the interview specifies that Bride and Prejudice was filmed and written as a Bollywood movie first, and an adaptation second which is, I feel, an important thing to know when watching as you can clearly see that the demographic that Chadha was reaching out to was one familiar with foreign cinema (as opposed to Western cinema). Chadha goes on to discuss his casting decisions for the lead roles, difficulties he faced with the Indian members in his cast who were not acquainted with Jane Austen, and the reaction of the Bollywood community to the finished product. Perspective when watching any film is key, and gaining it from the Bollywood perspective makes viewing the film an even more fruitful experience.
Is Bride and Prejudice too entertaining? How does the “feel good” nature of the film distract audiences from more critical issues presented by the film? Or are those critical issues missing? If so, why is this important?
Gurinder Chadha’s Bollywood adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is one that draws on the novel’s basic themes and inserts them into the tradition and tone of a modern Bollywood film which causes a disconnect for fans of the book. This tradition, rife with song and dance, is largely characterized by a melodramatic approach to acting in which emotions and body language are exaggerated; much in the same spirit of early Western cinema which is far from the understated realism of modern films. As such, Jane Austen’s original novel is somewhat diluted in the translation which is tempered for a Bollywood audience, and as a result adds too much whimsy in the over-exaggerated acting and dance numbers than was ever felt in Austen’s original novel. It is not so much the insertion of new culturally distinct music as it is the insertion of music at all that ultimately distracts one from the original (rather serious) messages surrounding real prejudices and discrimination between classes. In the end, the message does remain intact as Mr. Darcy and Lalita (Elizabeth) forsake the differences between them for the sake of their love and are wed. However, I feel that the flashy music serves as a not-so-needed addition that detracts from more than it adds to the message; a notion that isn’t surprising when considering Chadha’s decision for Austen’s influence to take a backseat to the appeal of the Bollywood audience.