Bride and Prejudice, a new film by the director of the hit Bend It Like Beckham, tries to speak to a global audience by refracting an iconic English novel through the realities of the Indian diaspora.
The movie by director Gurinder Chadha takes novelist Jane Austen’s 1813 classic Pride and Prejudice and sets it in contemporary small-town India.
Chadha, who was born in Kenya and raised in Britain, felt Austen’s writing is especially relevant in Indian society, which is one of the reasons she choose the project.
The boy-meets-girl, Hollywood meets Bollywood comedy jumps from India to London to Los Angeles, following a Punjabi mother’s single-minded drive to marry off four beautiful daughters to successful men from the Indian diaspora.
The theme of Austen’s 1813 social comedy and love story unwinds against exuberant singing and dancing as the daughters fight off pressure to enter traditional arranged marriages to seek spouses based on love.
The core of the plot involves the comic and cultural misunderstandings between daughter Lalita, played by Bollywood movie queen Aishwarya Rai, and a wealthy American hotel tycoon Will Darcy, played by New Zealander Martin Henderson.
Lalita accuses Darcy of holding India in contempt, while Darcy feels she unfairly stereotypes him as a spoiled American, a battle of pride and prejudice which plays out as their mutual enchantment deepens.
The film opened nationwide in the U.S. on Feb. 25, and should continue to help show that there are many relevant Indian themed stories out there to tell. Hopefully, the audience will follow.