Crimes:

  • Adapting Jane Austen's Pride And Prejudice into a tepid, misshapen mix of Bollywood musical and Western romantic comedy
  • Flipping between overlong musical numbers and repetitive scenes of its central characters playing out the same tired clashes over and over
  • Bizarrely embracing multiculturalism by presenting embarrassing, shrill, reductive stereotypes of Indians and Americans alike

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Defenders: Husband-and-wife co-writer Paul Mayeda Berges and writer-director Gurinder Chadha

Tone of commentary: Sporadic and spacey, but self-satisfied. Berges praises, prods, and leads Chadha along, trying to set a tone and keep things moving, but immediately following her lead whenever she cuts in with a banal observation about the extras or the weather. Long pauses stretch between comments, with Chadha silently watching one early scene, then chuckling "I'm getting caught up in the drama, I'm not doing the commentary."

What went wrong: Chadha was repeatedly urged to edit the redundant dialogue and shorten the draggier musical numbers, and she moans over every cut, giving the impression that if she had her way, the film would have been two excruciating hours longer. She also fusses over insects, dust, and mildly uncooperative weather: "I think it even rained!"

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Comments on the cast: Chadha "compliments" glamorous lead actress Aishwarya Rai for her refusal to be filmed climbing out of a pool in a bikini: "She's actually quite, um, chaste. Some would call it prudish."

Inevitable dash of pretension: About 90 minutes into the film, Chadha and Berges suddenly go on a wild back-patting spree, touting how Chadha achieved all her goals, making a Bollywood film "accessible to people who live in suburbs in cities all over the world." They also dismiss any possible criticism as coming solely from self-appointed "custodians of culture" who "couldn't really handle" the film's lack of Eurocentricism.

Commentary in a nutshell: Berges: "Jane Austen is so beloved, and Pride And Prejudice is always one of the nation's favorite novels. And so, to take it and to really turn it on its head, and make the family Indian, and set it within India and the United States, it's ambitious. And for some people, it's just going to be too much, it's—" Chadha: "I have to say something here, Paul. We lost one of her earrings during this scene. She's got two different earrings on."

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