I’m not usually a lover of resettings of Jane Austen’s plots. Yet this film kept calling to me. And so when it caught my eye on the DVD shelf in the library I picked it up, paid my £3 and brought it home.
I’m glad that I did. The vibrancy, the colour and the sheer enthusiasm sold it. And the transposition of the story was so well done.
The Bennetts were reborn as the Bakshis. I had no doubt at all about who was who, and yet they were utterly believable as a contemporary Indian family. So clever!
William Darcy soon appeared, with his friend Balraj and the latter’s sister to do business and to attend the wedding. The wedding is spectacular and it was easy to be charmed by Balraj and the relationship that would develop between him and Jaya Bakshi.
The relationship between Darcy and Jaya’s sister Latita is, of course, less straightforward. There is clearly an attraction, but she considers him to be a rude and arrogant American and is unimpressed by his plans for a luxury hotel in “the real India.” I was inclined to agree with her and I’m afraid that this Mr Darcy didn’t quite have the charm to win me over.
He grew on me – and Lalita – later, but then Johnny Wickham, son of Darcy’s nanny, turned up. A bit of a coincidence, but the story had momentum now, and he was lovely. I didn’t blame Lalita at all for being drawn to him. He certainly looked much more fun !
And then there was another suitor for Lalita – Mr Collins was reborn as Mr Kohli. A cousin of the Bakshis who had found success in America – in the Darcy family business – and has come back to India in search of a suitable bride.
The principal characters were then assembled and the story began to unfold just as it should. A trip to America for Mr Kohli’s marriage to Lalita’s best friend stood in for Lizzie’s trip to Derbyshire and, though I was sure that the conclusion would be as well transposed as the rest of the story, I was on the edge of my seat. It almost seemed like it wouldn’t happen. But of course it did! Perfect!
The story works – and if Shakespeare can be successful in modern clothes, then why shouldn’t Jane Austen?
The vibrant colour, the exotic settings, and the spectacular singing and dancing certainly enhanced things – and balanced some serious points about arranged marriages and the perception versus the reality of modern India
Although the music maybe slowed the story a little at the start, it definitely provided a different dimension.
I think that what it did was to the film into a celebration of the story.
Certainly it made it into a fabulous entertainment!