Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mid-year Jane Austen fix (Bollywood style)



This morning—before my brother was up—my dad and I decided to watch Bride and Prejudice, the Indian (like from India) rendition of my all-time favorite novel by a similar name. And man, am I glad we did!

I think the most fascinating part of this movie was all the color. Every woman in the movie wore a brightly-colored sari, and of course with costume changes the choice of bright colors changed. The camera shots took advantage of all the color involved, especially during the song-and-dance scenes.

Oh yes—this was a musical! Which made it even better (and even less likely to be tolerated by my brother, who fortunately still has not emerged from his room). This was definitely a Bollywood musical; the music was identifiably Indian (think Slumdog Millionaire) though most of the songs were sung in English.

Of course, the names from Austen’s novel had to undergo some changes to become part of the Indian culture, so Elizabeth became Lalita, Jane became Jaya, and so on with all the Indian characters. (Mr. Darcy, fortunately, became American rather than Indian, so he simply lost the “Fitz” and became William “Will” Darcy.) I thoroughly enjoyed watching the personalities express themselves (according to someone’s interpretation of Austen) within the Indian cultural context.

Mr. Collins—who became Mr. Kohli—still annoyed me to no end.

That was the most intriguing aspect (notice, intriguing is different from fascinating)—how the old British story was transformed into an Indian one. And actually, it worked better as an Indian story than an American story (like the movie set in Utah that I watched a bit ago). My dad pointed that out.

I theorize that the cultural pressure to get married, the involvement of the family in the courting process, and the dire results of waiting too long or refusing an eligible offer all exist in both the original novel and in this Indian movie, but were lost in translation when the story was carried into the modern-day Western United States.

So, this was officially the 5th film rendition I’ve seen of Pride and Prejudice. The complete list:

  • 1940, with Greer Garson and horrifically wrong period costuming (though it was still set in 1800s England, same as the book)
  • 1995, with Colin Firth (also set in 1800s England)
  • 2003, with nobody famous (that was the modern-day Utah version)
  • 2004, with Aishwarya Rai (she’s a big-time Bollywood star; and of course, this was the movie in modern-day India)
  • 2005, with Kiera Knightley (again, 1800s England)

I have yet to see Bridget Jones’ Diary but who knows if I’ll get around to it.

P.S. Dad is convinced that Bride and Prejudice is his new favorite movie. (He enjoys both my Jane Austen addiction and musicals.)

No comments: