Today I bumped into an absolutely delightful piece of movie entertainment. I had had good hopes for Gurinder Chadha's Bride and Prejudice, but I was very happily surprised when the movie was even better than I had hoped for.
When I first heard of a Bollywood version being made of Jane Austen's classic Pride and Prejudice, I immediately decided I had to see it. Preferably with Satu, who I share a common Austen past from our days in high school and a common taste in good music that makes us both want to dance. And what a good decision it was! We both left the movie theatre with wide smiles on our faces, humming the tunes and enthusing about the lovely saris and jewellery.
The movie was delightfully well adapted from the original text and worked well in Indian surroundings. But after teaching about the Western colonialistic view over the Orient (which ever Orient...) only a week ago on my history course, I couldn't help noticing how cleverly the director used those themes in the movie. There's Mr Darcy, who's a wealthy American who comes to India and doesn't give the Indian culture the chance to show what it can offer to a Westerner. Lalita Bakshi (Elizabeth Bennet Bollywood-style) even comments on it, and quite sharply too, when she says she thought India had already gotten rid of imperialists... A point well made.
The funniest and in many ways the most absurd situation of the movie was when the roles of different (movie) cultures were turned upside down. Will Darcy and Lalita are walking down a beach in the States when the traditional Bollywood trick of bursting into song and dance happens. What a scene! Suddenly the Californian surfers and the life guards from their "Baywatch" tower run forward to join the song. To top it all, the couple wanders ahead and suddenly there's a huge church choir of black singers (you know, with the robes and all) singing "Take them to love". Talking about stereotypes and making fun of them!
I couldn't stop laughing. Partly because I recognised how my brain worked: I immediately thought how absurd the scene was when it was set in Los Angeles (and how totally terrifying it would be if it really happened - I'd run screaming if I saw a blue-robed choir approaching me on a beach) and partly because it was just plain hilarious.
After I got home, I did a bit of googling and ended up downloading some of the songs for myself. Balle Balle and the other songs (like No Life Without Wife, which was spot on defining the requirements for a good husband) from the movie are now the first Bollywood songs I have on my computer. I've always found Indian music to be a lot of fun, but for some reason I haven't gone through the trouble of finding any to listen to at home. Maybe I'll get a load of good tips from vierran45 now! *hint, hint* ;)