Gurinder Chadha, like her films, has a lot to say on a great many topics. Also like her films, she’s entertaining while she’s saying it. When I spoke to her on January 27, 2005, she waxed loquacious on Bollywood meeting Hollywood on and off the screen, her responsibility as a filmmaker to her audience, and why a popcorn flick, like her upcoming I DREAM OF JEANNIE, doesn’t have to be simple minded.
When Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice two hundred or so years ago, she was doing more than telling a story about lovers at cross purposes, she was also dissecting with her society with a deadly precision and wry humor. Gurinder Chadha has taken that classic story and updated it to the multicultural 21st century without losing any of the originals intelligence or humor.
Chadha spins the plot between India, London, and Los Angeles while remaining remarkably close to Austens story. The mother, Mrs. Bakshi, bewails the problem of having four daughters and no money for their dowries and her second daughter, Lalita (Indian superstar Aishwarya Rai), ponders why it is that everyone assumes a single man with money must be looking for a wife.
BRIDE AND PREJUDICE is a bright, splashy, and very smart film infused with wit and warmth. The class conflicts and the minutiae of society in the English countryside translate effortlessly by Chadha onto a bigger playing field, and observations about cultural imperialism that are, arguably, even more trenchant than Austen could imagined. Further, Chadha plays on the same pre-conceived notions plaguing her hero and heroine by subtly challenging any that the audience might harbor. Yet shes never confrontational, preferring instead to explore both sides of that particular human frailty with a flash of insight rather than a load of guilt.