Review

Bride and Prejudice Review

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Feb 15, 2005 | 10:30am EST

Lalita Bakshi (Aishwarya Rai) is the eldest of four unwed daughters who live in a small town in India where their frustrated parents desperately try to land them all husbands. Enter Will Darcy (Martin Henderson) an arrogant New Yorker visiting with his rich English friend Balraj Bingley (Naveen Andrews). Darcy likes what he sees in Lalita but manages to offend her immediately. While Balraj falls for Lalita's sister Jaya (Namrata Shirodkar) Lalita resists Darcy's efforts to get to know her better. Enter Mr. Wickham (Daniel Gillies) an old acquaintance of Darcy's who starts wooing Lalita for himself. Meanwhile Lalita's parents are intent on marrying her off to an obnoxious cousin who has made good in America.

Realism goes out the window when the leads and passersby--and even whole crowds--suddenly burst into song at a moment's notice. Lovely Aishwarya Rai is a superstar in India and while she makes good eye candy she is better in the second half of the film when she stops insulting Darcy and starts warming up to him. Henderson best known for his role as the doomed ex-husband in The Ring acquits himself well as the physically handsome but spiritually ugly American who has a lot to learn about women and India. If you like your comedy broad then you'll love Nitin Chanda Ganatra as the insufferably dorky cousin Mr. Kholi. If not you'll be glad that his screen time is brief. And it's a pleasure to see Naveen Andrews so serious and menacing on ABC's Lost here dancing up a storm and acting the gentlemanly suitor in a small but memorable role.

Bride and Prejudice is a real hodge podge of styles. Director Gurinder Chadha who gave us the huge hit Bend It Like Beckham never quite blends the east and west as smoothly as one would hope. Nowhere near as coherent as Beckham it bounces madly from typical Hollywood romance to over-the-top Bollywood production numbers. When it works it's a lot of fun but you may get whiplash from the sudden switch between styles.

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