Bride and Prejudice
Directed by Gurinder Chadha
Bollywood is coming to America, eventually. Its marvelous synthesis of melodrama, singing and dancing is exactly the right antidote for our current blockbuster malaise. Unfortunately, Bride and Prejudice is merely a pale imitation. Though it stars the radiant Aishwarya Rai (one of the biggest stars in Bollywood), it pairs her with Martin Henderson, who might have even less charisma than Paul Walker. And director Gurinder Chadha’s good instincts in Bend It Like Beckham fail her here, as she resorts to the broadest forms of humor. We’re even treated to an ugly sister whose only role is to perform a bizarre snake-like dance for our bemusement. The fineness of the source material (Jane Austen, of course) pops up occasionally, but those moments are overwhelmed by the film’s dreadful similarity to a car commercial (sleek, flashy, and empty). Check out Lagaan or the Westernized Monsoon Wedding for a much better intro to the charms of Bollywood.