Thursday, May 26, 2005

bride and prejudice [may 25, 2005]

The short verdict: Yuck! (against a background of retching sounds)

The long version: Gurinder Chadha (see also: Bend it like Beckham) presents a soggy pathetic Bollywood mainstream yawn-fest that attempts to adapt Pride and Prejudice (where other people have gone before, and done a far superior job). The western audience can lap this up as yet another example of the registered archetype of an Indian film: comes from Bollywood, full of bad over-the-top hamming, random song-and-dance sequences, bad dialogue, extreme emotions, the works. What GC actually achieves, although not in a very rewarding manner, is a spoof of these conventions. Imagine a Bollywood mainstream film with all its trappings (for more about them, rewind to the previous sentence). Of course, you get the market-friendly Anu Malik to conjure a bunch of tunes that give you a bad case of déjà vu. Now take those pesky Hindi lyrics and get some hack to stick a million square pegs of belly-aching words, phrases and rhymes into the holes that Mr. Malik dug (in Blackburn, Lancashire, presumably). And in a last-ditch effort to cover up all the fox paws, they got some geeky sound engineer to run a few transforms on the output to give the whole musical experience a muddy texture (think slush). Given that Aishwarya Rai cannot act, and only relies on a static array of limited egregious expressions, the filmmakers have decided to thrash this array heavily to inflict more pain upon us (what the victims of the Cenobites went through seems like a trip to the Bahamas). And to complement her acting skills[sic] we have adequate fira.ngii wooden foil. The supporting cast actually gets more done. Nadira Babbar rules the house, Anupam Kher offers support (despite having precious little to do). Sonali Kulkarni doesn't have enough screen time to register her terrible accent, Peeya Rai Choudhuri delivers another spunky turn as yet another spunky teen (see also: Chupke Se). If you can survive the Bakshi inquisition, you might even find some strength to applaud the fight in the cinema theatre against the backdrop of Prem Chopra attempting an evil turn on Saira Banu (complete with yucky wig) in Purab aur Paschim. The film's sole claim to fame is in affording mainstream exposure to a word that has long languished in the realm of domestic slang when Nadira Babbar admonishes Lakhi (PRC) about her revealing outfit saying "We want Balraj to look into Jaya's eyes not your mammes". Touché Luckily that happens during the aggravatingly long opening credits, so you can catch that, pat yourself on the back for having witnessed history, and then proceed to the nearest exit.

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