Thursday, March 03, 2005

Bollywood/Hollywood: Bride & Prejudice

So far, I think I've seen about four attempts to merge Bollywood and Hollywood sensibilities. They line up thusly:

Bollywood/Hollywood: Pretty bleak; I found it a movie made by someone who had a chip on her shoulder, like she really detested the Bollywood style.

Bride & Prejudice: Decent enough. The script could have used a little more work, but overall an enjoyable two hours.

Monsoon Wedding: Unlike the previous two, it doesn't seem to try to bridge a gap. Indeed, it often feels like an American independent film set in India, not stopping for musical numbers per se, but having the music be a natural part of the movie.

Moulin Rouge: Of course, here Baz Luhrman just threw everything into the blender. A work of demented genius.

So, anyway, the teaser, opportunity to spend money, and link:

Bride & Prejudice

* * ½ (out of four)
Seen 12 February 2005 at Landmark Kendall Square #7 (first-run)

Part of what Hollywood does is pillage other film industries. We've been raiding England for most of a century, Australians happily hide their accents to get access to those big Hollywood budgets, and it seemed like half the people making action movies in Hong Kong tried to stick in the US for a while in the nineties. People have completely forgotten that Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek used to do mainly Spanish-language work, and Paz Vega's first American movie was released last year. Now Hollywood has taken notice of India's booming film industry, and has lured one of "Bollywood"'s most popular actresses over. It's a pity that what appears to be the first in a string of English-language movies for Aishwarya Rai isn't much to write home about.

Bride & Prejudice is built for what seems to be the express purpose of introducing Bollywood to American (and, presumably, British) audiences. On that count, it does a decent job, although it's a somewhat watered-down version of Bollywood. It runs 111 minutes, long for a western romantic comedy, but Hindi movies are frequently an hour longer. There's a small amount of self-parody and pop-culture references thrown in, but they're all from a Western perspective (sure, I understand a joke about American Idol much better than one about its Indian equivalent, but I'd think both would be going on). And the story is adapted from a piece of Western literature, Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice - hence the cute name which I subconsciously keep trying to alliterate to "Bride and Brejudice".

Read the rest at HBS.

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