Sunday, November 07, 2004

Snide and Prejudiced

I will always be indebted to the gentleman or lady who coined the word execrable. My deepest gratitude also goes out to the one who came up with egregious. Thanks to these thoughtful folks, I can now describe the movie Bride and Prejudice without resorting to such weak, ineffective words like bad, appalling, disgusting, awful, terrible.

I saw it early this week and it wreaked havoc with my digestion for two days. I did my best to obliterate it from memory, but yesterday I read an interview with director, Gurinder Chadha, in an old issue of Time Out and the bile rose again…

‘I never intended to make a Hindi movie, it’s not my sensibility’,
she says. Truer words were never spoken. She goes on to say that hers is ‘a British movie that pays an affectionate tribute to Hindi cinema’. Perhaps in the same way that Judas’ kiss was affectionate.

Let’s overlook for a moment the effrontery to Jane Austen in the title. Let’s also excuse the absurd lyrics, dance epidemics and tepid dialogue. Out of the goodness of your heart, excuse Aishwarya’s incomprehensible indignation, Aishwarya’s credibility as a rustic Amritsar kudi, Aishwarya’s unidentifiable accent. While at it, condone the lack of chemistry, and surfeit of melodrama, which seeks to gleefully announce, ‘We are like this only.’

Now, that we’ve pardoned the whole balderdash, let’s come to the unforgivable part. How could a director who crafted the little gem called Bend it like Beckham go so wrong? How could someone who had discovered a warm, funny, inoffensive way of portraying Indian foibles, successfully cast the spotlight on the crudest, crassest, vilest behaviour of Indians? How can she claim to be ‘pissed off by films that parody Bollywood’ and then perversely misrepresent not just Bollywood, but India?

And who do we have to blame for this travesty of a movie? Believe it or not, Aditya Chopra! 'It was after seeing Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayengethat I decided to make my version of a Hindi film,' says Chadha and adds, 'I later told him that if Bride and Prejudice falls flat, I’d blame him.'

Aditya, I want my money back!

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