Austen in Amritsar


or, Bollywood Bliss

I’d never seen a Bollywood film before today. I’m a longtime fan of Hong Kong cinema, particularly the work of director Tsui Hark, and this genre has well and truly become a crossover phenomenon, both in terms of style and effects in action films, and in Hollywood money backing Hong Kong martial arts films made for an international audience. I can really see the appeal of Bollywood though from what I think is the first crossover film, British director Gurinder Chadha’s Bride and Prejudice.

IMAGE SOURCE: The picture of the amazing Aishwariya Rai is courtesy of

It’s a loose adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, transposed to present day India (and London and LA). When I think “Jane Austen adaptation”, I think “chick flick” so my flatmate had to drag me along – but I’m very glad she did. Although some of the reviews complain that the film lacks Austen’s social observation and complexity of characterisation, this just confirms my view that most film reviewers are rather stodgy. Simply put, it’s enormous fun – particularly the musical numbers… Sadly, I probably won’t have time to go to any of the Bollywood Masala Film Festival, now showing at Brisvegas’ Dendy, but if you want a refreshing and enjoyable taste of Bollywood, try Bride and Prejudice.

About Mark Bahnisch

Mark Bahnisch is a sociologist and is the founder of this blog. He has an undergraduate degree in history and politics from UQ, and postgraduate qualifications in sociology, industrial relations and political economy from Griffith and QUT. He has recently been awarded his PhD through the Humanities Program at QUT. Mark's full bio is on this page.
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2022 years ago

Oh, man, and isn’t she just gorgeous? Why is it these days that pure beauty in women seems to be limited to Asians and Africans?

Nasty sexist sexist nasty thingy sexist nasty racist thingy nasty.

Sorry. You’d better ban me, Mark. I’m ashamed of myself.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Yep, Rob, she’s gorgeous, as are her sisters in the film. Rai was Miss World 2004 apparently, and Julia Roberts called her “the most beautiful woman in the world”. She can act – she plays a feisty, intelligent and witty character well. Some of the reviewers bagged Mr Darcy for being a bit of a cipher – but surely Messrs Darcys are always meant to be rather ill at ease and seemingly insubstantial. It’s a very enjoyable romp of a film.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Anyway, back to “I, Claudius” now – latest fruit of my last video shop trip. I was inspired to rent it by the formative fiction thread…

Philip Gomes
2022 years ago

As someone who is a hardcore bollywood/Indian film buff (I even attended the Bombay film festival last year – non-bollywood)) there is a lot of really good stuff out there to see at the Masala flim festival.

It appears to be pretty good first up film for those not familiar with the genre, a more palatable confection. But the reviews in the Indian media are not particularly good. I’ll probably have a look to see what all the hubub is about.

2022 years ago

Can I also recommend Lagaan. Its long (3hrs or so) but its all about cricket with a love story, so something for everyone. Sort of like Mighty Ducks with songs. And the Poms get whupped.

2022 years ago

I grew up on Bollywood at local ethnic cinemas (cheaper than regular flicks for us poor folks). Couldn’t understand a word. Nevertheless cried through the classic Mother India. Love all the kitch and schmalz and melodrama and super bad set design. It sure has come a long way since my childhood. I notice it just gets raunchier but still without the kissing. And that (sadly) more and more Bollywood actors and actresses are more ‘western’ in appearance (and there’s a few westerners making their name in Bollywood as well). Even if the girls are still gorgeous and the boys sometimes, well, can’t quite get past the 70s hair dos.