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Bollywood fails to translate

Photo Courtesy of MIRAMAX FILMS
"Bride and Prejudice" - Bollywood and Hollywood come together to for this adaptation of the Jane Austen novel "Pride and Prejudice." Middle-aged women looking for another "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" will flock to the multiplexes.
By Shawn Patrick Green
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, February 24, 2005
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Bride and Prejudice: 2/10

Let's get one thing straight: I don't get Bollywood. When a film like "Bride and Prejudice" is marketed with the tagline "Bollywood meets Hollywood," there's a sneaking suspicion I won't care for the film.

That being said, I went into the movie hoping for the best.

But this movie confirms my suspicions and proves that not only should Bollywood never meet Hollywood, it shouldn't even come within shouting distance.

Here's a simple plot summary for "Bride and Prejudice": man (Martin Henderson) gazes longingly at woman (Aishwarya Rai). Woman gazes longingly at man. Plans are made to gaze longingly at a later date. Plans are fulfilled. Process is repeated.

There is so much longing and gazing in this movie that the two principal actors could fall into comas and still perform half their scenes.

The novelty of this film, aside from it being a cheesy Bollywood musical, is that it's based on Jane Austen's book "Pride and Prejudice." If you've read the book, (which I, being a guy, haven't) you'll recognize a lot of characters and situations that were present in the novel (according to Cliffs Notes).

Lalita Bakshi (Rai), an Indian girl, is looking for love in all the wrong places, a situation that is exciting and original for a romantic comedy (please note sarcasm).

First, her controlling mother tries to arrange her marriage to a wealthy, but dorky, Indian-American entrepreneur (Nitin Chandra Ganatra), but she refuses him. Lalita then finds out that the charming British man she thinks is her perfect fit is more of a scumbag than he first appeared.

Will she ever discover that her true love lies with the handsome but misunderstood Will Darcy (Henderson)? Of course she will, per the romantic-comedy formula.

The real problem is that the movie is never very funny. It goes from being dramatic and intense one minute (usually as they gaze at each other, longingly of course) to being overly cheesy and cartoonish the next. The transitions between these scenes are usually nonexistent and cause the movie to feel jerky and unbalanced.

The movie actually threatens to be fun to watch at certain points, but just as you're in danger of actually enjoying yourself, a random dance party breaks out and everyone in the movie starts singing.

The songs try to be endearing and funny, but they end up just being embarrassing. Bollywood is supposed to be a bit cheesy, but "Bride and Prejudice" takes it to a level that should not be experienced through human senses. The voices sound helium-induced and unnatural and the situations are simply ridiculous.

Paradoxically, some of the awful songs will have you tapping your feet. It's about as awkward as cheering for a train wreck.

One of the only things this movie has going for it is its actors, who actually do a convincing job during some portions of the movie.

Henderson and Rai have a decent amount of chemistry onscreen and none of the actors seem miscast or out of place.

The novelties of the movie don't work in its favor as both the adaptation of Austen and the attempted culture-clash fall flat.

This movie makes it painfully apparent why Austen didn't write Bollywood songs into her novel.

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