Bride and Prejudice: A Bollywood Comedy of Manners

By Wilson, Cheryl A. | Literature/Film Quarterly, October 1, 2006 | Go to article overview

Bride and Prejudice: A Bollywood Comedy of Manners


Wilson, Cheryl A., Literature/Film Quarterly


"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife" (3). The celebrated first line of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice sets up the courtship narrative and class issues that permeate the novel and also provides an example of the "epigrammatism" that the author acknowledges as one of her text's distinguishing-and indeed, most endearing-features (Jane Austen's Letters 203). "Hollywood meets Hollywood [...] and it's a perfect match" (Bride). The tagline for Gurinder Chadha's 2004 film Bride and Prejudice sets up a love story and foreshadows the cultural conflict that will ensue. Both lines aptly characterize their respective texts, yet they are also curiously self-referential. Austen's "truth universally acknowledged" questions the blurring of true and false/ reality and fiction in the novel itself and the genre in general. The "Hollywood meets Hollywood" tagline establishes Bride and Prejudice as the site of contact between two conflicting cultures as well as two disparate film industries and conceptions of media. Thus, within the context of Austen studies and Bolly wood film history, Bride and Prejudice can be viewed as a film that integrates two well-suited partners-the Bollywood form and Austen's comedy of manners-to both preserve and update the cultural critique of the original.

One of the still-unresolved issues in the emerging field of adaptation studies, argues Tom Leitch in 'Twelve Fallacies in Contemporary Adaptation Theory," concerns how to address the multiple acts of adaptation that take place within any particular work. Leitch writes:

Because films depend on screenplays which in turn often depend on literary source material, in fact, they are doubly performative. Actors and actresses are translating into performance a written script which is itself an adaptation of a prior literary source, with the important difference that the script is a performance text-a text that requires interpretation first by its performers and then by its audience for completion-whereas a literary text requires only interpretation by its readers. (150)

As Leitch points out, direct communication from writer to reader-a given in most studies of literary reception-is complicated by the mediation first by a screenplay and then by the actors' performance of that screenplay, thereby imposing two layers of adaptation between the audience and the original source. This is certainly the case with Bride and Prejudice-the screenplay by Chadha and Paul Mayeda Berges renders Austen's "light and bright and sparkling" novel through the lens of Bombay Cinema, combining two well-defined forms in "a perfect match" (Jane Austen's Letters 203). In addition, the different (and sometimes conflicting) acting styles of British, American, and Indian performers, according to Chadha's film commentary, give an energetic and emotional charge to the film. Nonetheless, Chadha preserves the comedic nature of Austen's source material, which allows the film to undercut certain conventions of the Bollywood form, while using that very form to convey the novel's commentary on class, culture, and gender to a contemporary audience.

Any film entering the heavily populated field of Austen adaptations is confronted with the task of re-presenting an early-nineteenth-century text to a contemporary audience; and crossing continents, as Chadha does in Bride and Prejudice, further complicates this act of re-presentation. Unlike Raji í Menon's 2000 film / Have Found It, which maps Austen's Sense and Sensibility directly onto die South Indian landscape with minimal appearance of Western characters and maximum appearance of rain-drenched lovers, Chadha's film is a hybrid, exacerbating the problems of adapting a novel by blending Hollywood and Bollywood cinema in so doing. The film's hybridity encourages audiences, both Western and non-Western (for which slightly different versions were released), to question their expectations for films and for adaptations. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Bride and Prejudice: A Bollywood Comedy of Manners
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.