Bride & Prejudice

1. Pride & Prejudice was my first taste of Jane Austen, and I must admit, as a 16-year-old girl, I was smitten with it. Honestly, I’m still quite taken with it now. In 10th grade, we explored the book’s humorous satire regarding gender relations and classism as well as its comedy-of-errors style. Austen has a signature voice, satirical and yet connective, which is what made many of her books irresistible. Pride & Prejudice explores the lives of Britain’s politically conservative 18th century gentry class, specifically the “selling” of women from families and their potential as tools for economic advancement. Austen’s novel explores these themes, but also turns them on their heads, allowing her protagonist, strong-willed and intelligent Elizabeth, to choose to marry for love, rather than for her family’s gain.

2. Bride & Prejudice is Austen’s novel, put in a modern and global context. Director Gurinder Chadha (behind Bend It Like Beckham) combined traditional Bollywood cinema with the style of American musicals and regular cinema to create this unique hybrid of a film, which is still largely based on the plot of Austen’s novel. Though it was written in 18th century Britain, the novel has lent itself well to multiple film adaptations–however, Bride & Prejudice may be the one that is most different from the original novel. It takes place in both a different time and different country, bringing the story to light in an entirely different culture. Amritsar, a small Indian town, is now the setting, and the mysterious suitors hail from London and Los Angeles, respectively. Austen’s familiar plot plays out on a global scale, and is peppered delightfully with traditional Hindi dances and adorably cheesy musical numbers.

3. As with most film versions of older novels, modernization is often the largest point of conention. Modernizing a novel like Pride & Prejudice, set in the 18th century, carries with it the possibility of appealing to a much wider audience, but it also risks being very unfaithful to the original story. This seems to be one of the largest successes of Bride & Prejudice; in order to modernize a plot about arranged classist marriages, it appears to have paid off to use a culture that had a more recent history of such unions. It still feels contrived and risky in this respect, however; this stereotype of Indian culture is being displaced as of late. Another issue many have with the adaptation is the snuffing out of Austen’s distinctive authorial voice; her narration is dry, yet humorous and endearing, part of what has kept generations of readers interested in her books. Narration like this, in any book, is almost always lost when translated to film, and so it is with Bride & Prejudice as well.

4. This source is another interview with Chadha, the director, in which she compares herself to other female Indian directors and speaks about her other movies as well. This source is a comparison of the book and movie written by someone who greatly admires the original Austen works, and she exalts the movie as just being more Austen greatness that fans will eat up, regardless of the content. She also talks about how Bride & Prejudice emphasizes the close relationship of Mr. Bakshi to his daughters, as he is the calm where Mrs. Bakshi is the storm. She points out too how we are able to empathize more with Chanda (as opposed to Charlotte) because in marrying Mr. Kholi, she will not inherit the Bakshi estate, as would have happened in the original story. Chanda is more forgivable, not only by Lalita, but by the audience. This source is a critical article from the International Journal of English Studies. It addresses Bride & Prejudice as a transnational and multi-genre film, and it analyzes the movie’s interpretation of the East-West culture clash in a modern context.

5. The character of Mr. Collins in the book is represented by Mr. Kholi in the film. Are they a good match? Why or why not?

The Mr. Kholi-Mr. Collins match is perfect, I think. I knew who Mr. Kholi was supposed to be as soon as he showed up on screen, and he was everything I wished Mr. Collins could have been. He was insufferably annoying, a bumbling idiot, and made to look like the least attractive possible option for Lalita, just like the original Mr. Collins. I thought the adaptation of him to fit the movie’s modern Indian-American context was great; he is an accountant in America, successful enough that Mrs. Bakshi practically insists that Lalita marry him, and is just as disrespectful to Lalita in his proposal (it is still all about him, not her). Mr. Kholi may be even funnier than Mr. Collins with the addition of the visual element, especially at the dinner table; I almost cried laughing when Lalita described watching him eat as being “like looking at a Jackson Pollock painting.” The family cannot respect Mr. Kholi because of the way he cast aside his home and culture to assimilate in America, just as (most of) the Bennetts could not respect Mr. Collins for his primitive and selfish philosophy about marriage.


2 thoughts on “Bride & Prejudice

  1. In terms of adapting the novel to film, I cannot think of a better culture to model it after. The traditional values of Indian culture are very similar to some of the things Austen speaks about in her novel. With that being said, I still feel that this film adaption does not do her novel justice, and instead comes off as a sappy romantic comedy without any other intentions but drawing in a large viewing crowd.


  2. In general, a really well-done assignment. Your analysis of the book, film, and adaptation is thorough, though you’ll want to be careful about how much personal opinion and background you introduce into your analysis. The student research links are good, especially the academic source, but you could try a little harder to avoid reviews.

    There are some problems with your critical argument paragraph, even though it is clearly an argument. First, you need to start with a thesis statement that is NOT a direct response to the critical analysis prompt. Also, there’s not enough comparison between Koli and Collins. And if they match up perfectly, why do you conclude that they are quite different (the two characters are disrespected for completely different reasons). There was certainly enough common elements between the two to note in your argument paragraph.

    Finally, please avoid “I-language” in your critical argument paragraph (“I think,” “I knew,” “I wished,” “I thought”). Such language undercuts the persuasiveness of your argument, and you don’t need it.

    Please look again at the “frequent problems” page, particularly the section on the critical argument paragraph, which will help you turn your good arguments into excellent ones. Here is the link:

    10/10. Joseph Byrne. ENGL329B.


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