The Bollywood film community in India is enormous, and yet the movies have never really broke through in the US. "Bride and Prejudice" is the latest major fusion of Bollywood and Hollywood alongside films like "The Guru", and although the box office was about the same as "The Guru", "Bride" is another enjoyable feature that operates with a lot of sweetness. It's not without some issues, but it's a bright, energetic follow-up for director Gurinder Chadha to the popular "Bend It Like Beckham".
The tale is a take on Austin's famed "Pride and Prejudice". It stars former Miss World and popular Indian actress Aishwarya Rai as Lalita Bakshi, the second daughter of an Indian couple. Will Darcy (Martin Henderson) is a wealthy American businessman visiting India because his friend Balraj (Naveen Andrews) has a wedding to attend. Darcy and Lalita at first get along like oil and water but, as you may have guessed, they're seeing more eye-to-eye by the end of the picture. Mrs. Bakshi (Nadira Babbar) is always on-hand, wanting to get her daughters into the married life.
"Bride and Prejudice" is nearly two hours, but there's not a ton of plot - the movie throws in dance numbers whenever it finds a free moment, including a random appearance from singer Ashanti. The song and dance numbers are generally well done, as they involve whatever's around and are energetic, fun and very cheesy (but - mostly - in a good way.) There are tons of production numbers - a few too many, maybe - but they're not really the problem, as much as the fact that the picture tries to throw just about everything at the audience - comedy, drama, song, dance, etc. - in the hopes that some of it sticks. Much of it does, but when it doesn't (see one of the potential husbands - who moved to LA from India - that is brought in, who just seems too over-the-top weird), it falls with a thud.
The other issue with the movie is Martin Henderson. While Henderson was very good against Naomi Watts in "The Ring", calling his effort here bland would be an understatement. Henderson and Rai don't share much chemistry, and that does certainly take away a bit from the central story. The performances by Rai and other supporting cast members, such as Alexis Bledel of "Gilmore Girls" are generally decent, although there aren't any real standouts here.
Overall, this is generally amusing stuff and when it works it works. It's rather overstuffed and the performances are mixed, but it's sweet and when it works, it picks up the spirits.
VIDEO: "Bride and Prejudice" is presented by Miramax in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture is certainly just about the most colorful I've seen in ages, and this transfer represents it quite well, with colors looking solid and well-saturated, with no smearing or other faults.
Sharpness and detail are generally good, with the image appearing crisp and clear for the most part, with only some minor instances of softness. Small object detail is just adequate, as the picture appeared crisp, but never crystal clear. No edge enhancement was seen, but some minor shimmer was spotted, as were a couple of slight traces of pixelation. The print used appeared crisp and clear, with no specks, marks or other faults. Overall, this is a satisfactory presentation.
SOUND: The Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation was pleasing, as the music was nicely reinforced by the surrounds. Aside from that, there weren't too many instances of rear speaker use, simply because there aren't really opportunities for it. Audio quality was pleasing, as the music sounded crisp and dynamic, while dialogue remained clear and sounded well-recorded.
EXTRAS: Commentary from Director/Cowriter Gurinder Chadha and co-writer Paul Mayeda Berges, a "making of" featurette, "conversation" featurettes with the two leads, six deleted scenes, four extended songs, a featurette on Ashanti's performance and the crew's early reaction to shooting the Bollywood production number (along with the crew doing their own production number.)
Final Thoughts: "Bride" has problems and it's pretty conventional at its core, but the picture is enjoyable and lively, with (mostly) fine performances. Miramax's DVD edition provides satisfactory audio/video quality, with a nice helping of supplements. Those interested should try a rental, while fans should seek a purchase.