Capturing the spirit of a book

When it comes to Jane Austen, I tend to be a purist. I don’t generally care for revisionist retellings. Mansfield Park was a mess of a movie. The writer/director admitted to disliking the book. She didn’t care for what would have been accurate costumes or furnishings so she changed those to suit her (causing a friend of mine to wonder if the Bertrams had gone through bankruptcy proceedings). She didn’t seem to get the point of the story or the characters and the film reflects that. When I hear about filmmakers changing the source material around to make the story “accessible to a modern audience,” I tend to cringe. Does everything have to be dumbed down? There was a highly successful, very faithful miniseries of Pride and Prejudice that managed to reach the masses just fine without turning Elizabeth Bennett into a filthy, shouting wreck, thank you very much.

So it was with trepidation that I decided to watch Bride and Prejudice: a Bollywood style retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Darcy is an American hotel mogul. The Bennett sisters are the Bakshi sisters (Jaya, Lalita, Lakhi, and Maya) in India. There are song and dance numbers. Yes, it sounds horrible. No, it doesn’t capture the intricacies of the novel. Mr. Darcy is played by a rather uninspiring and untalented actor. Did I mention the song and dance numbers? But in its own odd way, it is pretty darn faithful to the spirit of the Austen novel. And that’s something to be commended.

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