By Kayla (Illinois)
Bride & Prejudice discussed the various misconceptions of Western and Indian culture that are believed to be valid in order to simplify the various lifestyles that others live. The film introduced the main character Lalita Bakshi who has two sisters and lives with her parents as her mother is always on the hunt to find her three daughters successful husbands. Lalita soon meets Will Darcy an American man who just doesn’t truly understand her culture and values as she doesn’t understand his finding themselves in a constant battle between their pride and the prejudices they have been predisposed to.
As time progresses Lalita and Will begin to open their eyes and see one another for who they are as individuals and not just the labels placed upon the culture they come from. As all of Lalita and Will’s friends are getting ready to settle down both would like to find someone who holds the same values as they do. Until pride is set aside and their hearts are open to love there will remain conflict in their relationship. While watching the film I enjoyed the discussion of cultural diversity to the underlying message about how love can overcome adversity but I didn’t enjoy the saturated Hollywood outlook demonstrated in the film.
I have viewed bits and pieces of other Bollywood film and in comparison to Bride & Prejudice there was more of a Hollywood film chemistry. I do agree with the traditional dance sequences and the idea that family involvement in marriage is a huge part of the Indian culture yet the film seemed to focus on more of the Western aspect rather than Bollywood and Indian tradition being represented. When Kohli came to visit the Bakshi’s to get engaged to Lalita, he spoke about how India was a destination of the past and couldn’t at the least bit be compared to the U.S. speaking of how advanced and more powerful it is. This scene seemed to promote so much of Western strength and India’s disparity contradicting the overarching message that every culture and country is equal and is not lesser than the other.
While on the other hand the film during Lalita and Will’s heated discussion by the pool addressed the topic about how advancing a country’s infrastructure is not always beneficial for everyone. Darcy claiming that exposing the West to Indian cultures will allow advancement for the country does not reveal its true beauty Lalita describes how it’s just trying to turn India into a “theme-park for tourists”. Western and Hollywood influence have played a role in creating more Americanized perceptions of infrastructure and culture the movie promotes the so called lavish lifestyle that can be brought to India. I believe that if the film was more so Bollywood there would not be any discussion about how low income and underdeveloped India is and more promotion of the extravagant elements of its landscape and social values.
During the film I learned that marriage is sacred not only to those who are tying the knot yet also the family involved as it is common for arranged marriages to take place in Indian culture. Lalita’s mother was always on the lookout for the perfect husbands for her three daughters. Mr. and Mrs. Bakshi wanted their daughters to be taken care of by the right individual which meant not everyone would make the cut. It was also very exciting to see multiple times throughout the film those large colorful and lively dance sequences. Demonstrating how during that time everyone is free, joyful and embracing one another’s company.
The director allowed the viewer to see during these dance sequences that they are very important within the culture to symbolize more than just dancing, yet a binding of each other’s hearts. In the ending scene both of these cultural elements are represented, when Will and Lalita are riding off into the sunset on an elephant they are surrounded by the community’s dancing and singing while the frame also cuts to Lalita’s parents looking happy and proud of their daughter for finding love.