I wasn't sure I wanted to watch this film at first. Both the title and the DVD box image are rather cheesy - but then I saw the trailer, and it convinced me that this would indeed be something worth watching. Thank goodness for that trailer because I absolutely adored this movie. Bride and Prejudice introduced me to a whole new world of cinematic magic. It's an explosion of vibrant colors, exotic settings, incredible music and dancing, and genuine pleasure. The story itself, combining romance, drama, as well as comedy, was also a treat in its own right. If you haven't guessed by the title, this film was inspired by Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice - and I hope Austen enthusiasts will give this film a try, despite whatever misgivings they must surely have about it. I prefer to judge the film on its own merits, and I can't find anything not to like here. It's just exquisite.
The film is primarily set in India. Will Darcy (Martin Henderson) has come with his friend Balraj (Lost's Naveen Andrews) to attend a wedding - and what a wedding it is. The whole town is in full celebration mode, and the song and dance numbers that come spinning at you in kaleidoscope fashion entrance you with their beauty and grace. Darcy is immediately taken with a gorgeous young lady named Lalita Bakshi (Aishwarya Rai), who just happens to be the sister of Balraj's object of affection. She comes from a family full of girls and a mother working tirelessly to find husbands for her older daughters - hopefully rich ones. Darcy and Lalita, despite a lot of meaningful eye contact, don't exactly hit it off, but that's largely Darcy's fault. Henderson really isn't very charismatic in the role, and he's not all that eloquent either. Lalita finds him to be a rude, arrogant American who looks down on her and everyone else in India. Darcy's also a bit of a wimp, seemingly incapable of standing up to his domineering mother's influence. She would never approve of an India-born daughter-in-law, of course - but Mrs. Bakshi wouldn't necessarily leap for joy at an American son-in-law, either (no matter how rich he is - and Darcy is filthy rich). Darcy does get to spend a little time with Lalita (but not because she wants to), but then an acquaintance of his shows up in the form of Johnny Wickham (Daniel Gillies) - why the son of Darcy's nanny suddenly shows up there in India is a complete mystery to me, though. Wickham's no good, but the ever-ineffectual Darcy won't tell Lalita why. As for Lalita, she has to fend off a new suitor in the form of an incredibly annoying fellow who has come back from America seeking a bride. It looks like Darcy and Lalita just weren't meant to be, as he returns to London and Lalita finds herself having to fend off a new suitor in the form of an incredibly annoying fellow who has come back from America seeking a bride. The world's a small place, though, and fate brings Darcy and Lalita together again in Los Angeles (where the Bakshi family has come to attend another wedding).
The romance is quite predictable, but it does take interesting twists and turns along the way. I found it pretty compelling, but in many ways the love story is just the excuse to put on an awe-inspiring spectacle of music, dance, and incredible entertainment. I can't adequately describe the lavish nature of this film, except to say that it is a visual and auditory treat. I haven't had this much fun watching a film in a long time. Singing and dancing can start at the drop of a hat, and as often as not it doesn't end until the entire village has joined the fun. Lalita and her sisters are just wonderful, adorable characters (even the one who does the rather unforgettable Cobra Dance) - and Aishwarya Rai, the true star of this film, shines like the heavens on a dark night. I'll eagerly watch any movie she appears in. You won't have to worry about nodding off in the middle of this one - as Bride and Prejudice has the contagious energy to revive even the weariest of souls. Hollywood just doesn't make films like this; until you see this Bride and Prejudice, you probably won't even know what you're missing.