Sunday, March 20, 2005

The Bollywood Musical: Bride and Prejudice

We went to see it last night, my wife for the second time and my son and I for our first. Wow. This is definitely a must-purchase when it comes out in DVD.

Bride and Prejudice is a musical in the Bollywood tradition, but that only speaks to the use of color. People break into song or dance at times, but I didn’t find the songs as intrusive as in the great Hollywood musicals from the 40’s.

As I said in my earlier post, this presentation is (in many ways) a tribute to the A&E rendition from 1996.

Here’s where I stand on that. Back in 1996 when the mini-series first played on A&E, we recorded it on VHS. Over the next several years, my daughters would hold weekend marathons playing the mini-series from end-to-end. They must have done this at least 20 weekends out of every year, possibly more often. The result is that we all know the story, my son (and our Quaker parakeets) could hum the theme song, and the tapes wore out.

When we bought our DVD player one of the first movies we purchased was the full-frame $70 DVD of Pride and Prejudice. That DVD got played as often as the video tapes with the advantage that the picture was clearer and it was easier to pause the show for dinner.

When the $30 wide-screen version came out in 2001, we got a second copy so that one (or both) could be away at college.

Needless to say I know the story as presented by A&E.

No one can beat Colin Firth in his portrayal of Darcy, but the Wickham presented in this film is much more of a rake and the Bingley is less gee-wiz and more sexy. But then you have seen the actor playing Bingley when he plays Sayid in “Lost”. The Bakshi(Bennet) parents are just as much fun as always, but each in their own way.

Time and again scenes echo the settings found in the A&E version. The sisters talking to each other while looking in a mirror, the settings around the table at dinner, the father in his study . . .

Mr Kholi(Collins) is just as much of a boor, but is played sort of as a cross between Alan Rickman’s character in Galaxy Quest and Tom Green. This Mister Kholi is not a clergyman, but an accountant in LA who lives in The Valley. He is back in India looking for a wife because all of the Indian girls in the US are too independent. One memorable quote from Mr Kholi is “No life without wife.”

The settings range from interior and sea side part of India, to the suburbs of London, to Los Angeles. Ah but the musical number in LA (with a Bollywood twist) is something to behold.

Even though we all know how the story turns out, it plays well.

Make sure you stay through the credits to see the “Out Takes”. I could be wrong, but I’m sure that in one of them I saw Harvey Weinstein of Miramax talking on a cell phone then get dragged into a dance by the extras.

We all enjoyed it and my daughters went to see it a second time at a theater near their school. I would recommend it even if it sounds like a “chick flick.”

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