Most desis who like Bollywood can attribute the beginning of their fandom to a family member, a friend, or nostalgia for their childhoods. In the Western world, however, non-desis who know more than, “they’re all musicals, right?” about Hindi films are few and far between (though always adding to their number). Ask one of these people how they came to love Bollywood, and more often than not the answer will be, “Well, I watched Bride and Prejudice, and then…”
That’s right; though some experienced filmi fans love to hate this brainchild of Gurinder Chadha’s, it has served as a conversion vehicle for many viewers who otherwise would never have tried one of Mumbai’s products. The standard Bollywood tropes of hate at first sight, strong family ties, colorful costumes, deceptively simple-looking dances, and happy endings for everyone take on new freshness when seen through Western eyes. We asked people for their memories about Bride and Prejudice and found that, for all their differences, one thing remained the same: it made them love Bollywood! Here are some Bolly-lovers’ stories, edited for clarity.
“Started my obsession with Aishwarya”
Bride and Prejudice definitely made a path for me towards Bollywood. My sister’s roommate had it on DVD and when I watched it I was drawn in by the catchy tunes, dancing, and the pretty colors. I think it also helps if you like musicals to begin with. The movie also started my weird obsession with Aishwarya, which has died now, but that’s beside the point. That was why the next film I decided to see was Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, and then Devdas.
“It was the comedic side of Jane’s work”
Well I too sort of started with B&P. Being the Jane fan that I am I had to watch it and I had seen Monsoon Wedding and Bend It Like Beckham before so I did enjoy B&P. It was definitely the comedic side of Jane’s work that made it good. If Jane Austen went there, all serious or all comedy, her stuff would never have worked. That is what is so genius about her. She makes the seriousness work with the comedy and you get some wonderful stuff. So I think overall B&P did a fine job adapting it. Noted it is not the best, but a good job.
So Bride and Prejudice did finally lead me into watching true Bollywood and I thank it for that. It’s definitely a fun and cute movie that makes you feel good and is good for the whole family.
“Led me to Bollywood”
Yes, Bride and Prejudice and Aishwarya led me to Bollywood. This is true for many Bollywood fans I’ve come across, at least those outside of India. After Bride and Prejudice I gobbled up Kandukondain Kandukondain and loved that one even more. Then it was Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, then Devdas.
“I was totally sucked in”
I only picked up the movie because I’d seen Bend It Like Beckham and wanted more from the same writer/director. But when ‘O Balle Balle; came on my jaw dropped and I was totally sucked in. My husband and I must have re-watched that song a dozen times. We loved all the bright colors, the fun dancing, and (when we discovered the captions provided translations) the lyrics. I bought the movie and listened to Gurinder’s commentary track, which gives a lot of info about Bollywood in general and many classic films in particular. I went to YouTube and looked up Aishwarya Rai, whom I had never heard of before. The first thing to pop up was ‘Maar Daala’ from Devdas (don’t ask me why, since she’s not even in the song). I saw the clip and was instantly smitten by Madhuri’s dancing, Kavita Krishnamurthy’s voice, everything. Devdas became the first Hindi movie I bought. Since then I’ve watched about 75 Hindi films (and a few Indian movies that aren’t in Hindi) and reviewed 50 for my blog. I’m very grateful to Bride and Prejudice and Gurinder Chadha for opening my eyes to a movie industry that hadn’t registered on my consciousness before.
“An exuberant bundle of song-filled joy”
I saw Bride and Prejudice when I was in desperate need of something different from the same hum drum Hollywood formula and boy did it deliver! It was an exuberant bundle of song-filled joy. When I finished it I was salivating for more, and so I was led to Bollywood via Aishwarya Rai and Bride and Prejudice and have never looked back. I have had many countless hours of enjoyment watching Bollywood films and so Bride and Prejudice will always have a warm place in my heart.
“Left me wanting more”
It was an introduction to a new culture that was both colorful and magical and left me wanting more! I sought and found one of my favorite genres. It also didn’t hurt that it was loosely based on my favorite Jane Austen novel.
“It introduced me to this magical genre of films”
For being the Bolly-obsessed girl I am, the full blame can go to Gurinder Chadha’s Bride and Prejudice. After watching Bend It Like Beckham, I wanted to see what else she had directed (yes, geek girl too) and saw she was doing a film with Indian take on one of my favorite books – Pride and Prejudice. I saw and loved Bride and Prejudice – I loved the colors, the way the story was told, the music, the costumes… everything. I really, really enjoyed it. So much so, that I watched all the extras on the DVD (geek, remember?) and when Chadha was talking about the film, she kept mentioning the word Bollywood. I knew nothing about Bollywood at this time, in fact did not even know what Pinky was talking about when they went into the theaters to see that film and Aishwarya Rai, who was that?? So, as you know by now I am a geek, I of course went to the Internet to look up Bollywood, got my first film from Netflix – Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge and well, the rest they say is history. No, Bride and Prejudice is not a classic Bollywood film but Gurinder did make it to honor the films she grew up with. More importantly it introduced me to this magical genre of films that I love so much. Even if I hated it, which I didn’t, (this seriously lowers my Bollycred I know) I would still have to be thankful for Bride and Prejudice because without it I would not be writing about Bollywood and you know what – I love my job!
Now those are some happy endings — what more could you ask from this loving homage to Hindi films?