1. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice details the complex relationship between Elizabeth Bennet and her love interests, as well as her sisters and their love/marriage interests. Throughout the story, a major conflict (and theme) is in the social class of the characters: elitism and wealth all play a role in the marriage quest throughout the novel. Ultimately, for Elizabeth (the story’s protagonist) it’s about exceeding these social bounds between her and Mr. Darcy, and finding “true” love rather than the pre-determined love expected by her mother.
2. Gurinder Chadha’s Bride and Prejudice emulates the same struggles to find love, and the complex relationships associated with these struggles, found within Pride and Prejudice – the love and marriage aspect are similar in both. However, the central conflict deviates, in that the struggles to find love revolve more around cultural differences rather than class differences. Initially, Mr. Darcy’s arrogance and attention still concern money; however, Lalita (the film’s version of Elizabeth) perceives this as a lack of respect for the Indian culture rather than class superiority. The film also deviates in its narrative presentation, although it is a linear storyline, the film delves into the musical genre, enabling the characters to dance and sing about their emotions rather than discuss and express them “normally”, as with the novel. In following the musical tradition, as well as introducing cultural conflicts, the film manages to distinguish itself from the novel.
3. One of the primary differences between the novel, Pride and Prejudice, and the film, Bride and Prejudice, is the length of the story itself. The events within Pride and Prejudice occur throughout the course of a year; whereas, the events within the film—although not explicitly determined—seem to occur within a very short period (perhaps a few days). This length grants the novel more room for adding depth to its characters – if the film were to achieve the same level of complexity, then it may have needed an additional hour or two of character building and events. Furthermore, the film does not maintain historical accuracy to the events within the novel; instead, it takes the audience to present-day India, England, and America. Although the film relies on the same marriage principle, it makes itself more relatable to a modern, global audience by concerning itself with cross-cultural relationships rather than focusing on one culture alone (as done in the novel).
Review by Anabela Voi You:
Throughout her review, Anabela Voi You compares and contrasts the film Bride and Prejudice to the novel Pride and Prejudice. She finds that the characterization of Elizabeth (Lalita in the film) was underwhelming, as rather than her conflict with Mr. Darcy being a form of “foreplay” (what makes the novel so addictive), it concerns her unjustified rants towards his supposedly imperialistic nature. She goes on to say that as the film continues, it isn’t clear why the two fall in love at the end: she critiques the love narrative as being “superficial.” Her review is valuable in understanding the film, not just because of her critique of the narrative, but also her critique of the film’s supposed representation of the Indian diaspora, which she claims is underwhelming to say the least. These critiques question the effectiveness of the change in focus from the novel, which concerns class, to the film, which concerns culture.
Review by Roger Ebert:
Throughout his review, Roger Ebert focuses on the film Bride and Prejudice and examines how it follows the Bollywood film tradition, but ultimately falls within the Hollywood musical genre.
Review by Harry Forbes:
Throughout his review, Harry Forbes praises the film, Bride and Prejudice, for its dedication in staying true to the novel; he also complements the visual and musical aspects of the film.
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?
Through its Bollywood/Hollywood musical, “feel-good” presentation, Gurinder Chadha’s Bride and Prejudice, an adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice, ultimately loses its cultural significance, and therefore, loses its narrative impact. The conflict within Bride and Prejudice transforms from a dispute of class (as within Pride and Prejudice) to a dispute of culture: from the very beginning of the film, Mr. Darcy is portrayed as an ignorant man, whom Lalita despises for his lack of respect for Indian culture. This is the driving force of the love-hate relationship between the two. But the cultural aspect of the film gets lost in the “let’s start randomly singing”, musical elements of the film. Perhaps this is not a limitation of the genre itself, but within Bride and Prejudice, cultural complexities are diminished by the musical distractions. For example, in the scene introducing Mr. Darcy, there is a traditional Indian wedding happening, but rather than exploring the dimensions of this tradition, the characters simply start to dance and sing with each other in Hollywood musical style. The clash between Lalita and Mr. Darcy revolves around cultural differences; however, since these differences are never deeply explored, because this depth is sacrificed for a feel-good vibe, the clash never gains significance. As a result, the film fails to accomplish the same level of love-hate complexity as achieved within Jane Austen’s novel. Furthermore, by failing to address cultural complexities in detail, Chadha ignores the troubled history between nations in favor of telling a simple love story. In this way, the film fails to explore some very serious issues.