Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Bollywood is the largest film producer in India, producing about 800 films each year. One of the most popular aspects of Bollywood cinema is the music included in the films. Unlike Hollywood, Bollywood films use singing and dancing to show their viewers the story. Most Bollywood films tackle the issue of tradition vs. modernity. My mother and I are both huge fans of Bollywood films. My mother has one film in particular that she loves: Bride and Prejudice. She loves the film so much that she even has three copies of it at home – all from different regions so that no matter where in the world she’s living, she has access to one. I hadn’t really noticed the theme of tradition/modernity and the effect of the songs on film up until our last sociology class.

Bride and Prejudice is, as IMBd says, “Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice [that got] a Bollywood treatment.”  Gurinder Chadha, who directed other popular Bollywood films, such as Bend It Like Beckham, that also deal with the issue of tradition/modernity, directed the film. It is important to note a few risk-reduction strategies that can be seen with this film. Jane Austen’s novel is a popular one, therefore, remaking it with a “Bollywood” twist is making a film for a built-in audience. Also, the film was made my a prominent director who already directed a successful movie, and stars Aishwarya Rai, who is a huge star in Bollywood. The director’s name is on top of the purple DVD covers, while the actors’ names are on top of the blue ones.

My family has seen this film about a hundred times and now that I think about it, I notice that for the next few days following the screening, the songs are stuck in our heads. Not only that, but we (my little sister especially) loves to sing and dance the songs out. The more I think about it, sometimes we pop the DVD in because we feel like listening to the songs. They are extremely catchy and show you the story of the film. For example, Lalita, one of the main characters, is being pursued by her “father’s sister’s husband’s sister’s son” (Kohli). However, she is in love with Johnny Wickham at the same time that Will Darcy is falling for her. To show her struggle between juggling all three men, her sisters tease her by singing the song “No Life Without Wife.” In this song, her sisters mock her by showing her what marrying Kohli entails – the traditional life of a wife and her husband. At the end of this song, Lalita sings about her desire to marry Wickham and to be an “overseas bride dressed in white.”

This song not only shows you an important part of the story, but it also tackles the issue of tradition vs. modernity. Lalita’s mother is pushing her to marry Kohli, as he is from the family as well as the same country. With this, her mother is also pushing her into a traditional marriage. Lalita, however, is attracted to Wickham – a British man who is also poor, unlike Kohli. Wickham (and Darcy, who she ends up with at the end) both represent the idea of modernity – marrying outside of the family, which represents tradition. Her relationship with Darcy also shows this struggle, as Darcy himself, who represents modernization, comes to India to buy a resort in Goa. Lalita criticizes him for it, as she tells him that five-star comfort isn’t India. At the end of the movie, Darcy changes his ways and becomes a bit more traditional, meeting Lalita half-way. 

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