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Last Updated: Friday, 11 July, 2003, 09:22 GMT 10:22 UK
Bollywood Austen film goes global

Helen Bushby
BBC News Online entertainment staff

Bend it Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha has said her Bollywood version of Pride and Prejudice will span several continents.

Chadha, who begins filming next week with a cast including Devdas star Aishwarya Rai and Spider-Man 2's Daniel Gillies, said Austen's book was ideal for adaptation.

Gurinder Chadha
Gurinder Chadha came up with the idea for the movie
"Jane Austen must have been a Punjabi girl in a previous life," she told BBC News Online.

"Our version may have different cultures and settings but it's still about people marrying from different backgrounds."

With a budget four times that of her global hit Bend it Like Beckham, Chadha's movie will include song and dance routines and locations including India, the UK and US.

"Other British films are said to be 'too small and inward-looking' but this hopefully pushes the boundaries of what British cinema is," she said.

Chadha's film, renamed Bride and Prejudice, stays faithful to Austen's original story, although the Bennett family become the Bakshis, and Mr Darcy becomes a wealthy American.

Aishwarya Rai
Aishwarya Rai takes the lead role in the film
His unsavoury friend Mr Wickham is still an Englishman - in this case a barrister - and according to Gillies, who plays him, his character will be "more despicable".

Rai will play the equivalent of the book's central character, Elizabeth Bennett.

"My role as Lalita will be a great challenge," she said.

"But the film is essentially about people and relationships - it looks beyond culture - that is the charm of the story."

Chadha said the "unashamed emotion" of Bollywood films would be ideal for the movie, which she hopes will be finished next summer.

"The pace moves quickly - more like a Western film, but the eight or so song and dance routines will be part of the narrative, like a Bollywood movie.

Pride and Prejudice
The BBC also did a version of Pride and Prejudice
"It will be a very cheeky film," she added.

It follows in the very successful footsteps of Oscar-winning musical Chicago, and of course, Lord Lloyd-Webber's West End hit Bombay Dreams.

Pride and Prejudice is a witty tale about the plight of the 19th Century Bennett family, which faces the uphill struggle of marrying off four daughters to suitable - and wealthy - husbands.

Chadha described it as "the perennial Indian story", adding it was the "most obvious choice for a Bollywood adaptation".

As well as directing the movie she also co-wrote the screenplay with US writer Paul Mayeda Berges.

"The idea of adapting the story came to me while I was doing the washing-up," Chadha said.

Bridget Jones's Diary
Bridget Jones's Diary is also based loosely on Austen's novel
"I wanted to combine British film tradition with Bollywood - what better marriage than Pride and Prejudice?"

She added that by using three different continents, the story would also explore "global perceptions" about what different nations think of each other.

Martin Henderson plays Mr Darcy, a role popularised by Colin Firth in both the BBC version of the book and Helen Fielding's version, Bridget Jones's Diary.

Henderson, who recently starred in horror movie The Ring, echoed Chadha's sentiments, adding: "The story is so relevant to today.

"It's not just about class - it's about the cultural aspects of the world as well."

Beckham film director shoots to score
11 Apr 02  |  Entertainment
Jane Austen goes to Bollywood
30 Oct 02  |  Entertainment
Bend it Like Beckham scores highly
12 Apr 02  |  Entertainment
Bollywood's Rai reflects on career
15 May 03  |  South Asia
Devdas sweeps Bollywood 'Oscars'
17 May 03  |  South Asia
Success sees Bombay Dreams extended
16 Jul 02  |  Entertainment


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