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Discuss One Adaptation That, In The Process Of Its Adaptation, ‘Travel[S]’ To A Different Context (These Might Involve Cultural Or Historical Cont

2008 words - 9 pages

As an analogy, Gurinder Chadha’s Bride and Prejudice is a film in which major parts of a plot – in this case, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice – are taken and translated into modern equivalents. There are a number of parallels that can be drawn between the film and the novel, such as arranged marriages or marriages for the benefit of exceeding one’s class, an emphasis on familial ties and a similarity in the use of dance to portray ideas of courtship and socialisation. However, while Austen’s novel deals with notions of inter-class tension, Chadha’s film takes this tension and evolves it to deal with cultural conflict, an issue pertinent within the globalised twenty-first century. Elena ...view middle of the document...

Wilson goes on to explore the concept of ‘social prescription’ (326), and this can be seen when considering the dance in which Elizabeth reprimands Mr Darcy, informing him that it is ‘[Mr Darcy’s] turn to say something’ and that he ‘ought’ to engage in polite conversation whilst dancing (Austen -). In the same way the differing backgrounds and social understandings between Austen’s Darcy and Elizabeth are made clear through this scene, so is the cultural difference between Lalita and Darcy made clear in Chadha’s film through her presentation of Darcy as awkward and clumsy whilst joining in with the traditional dancing. The numerous examples of choreographed traditional dancing in both the novel and the film clearly serve to imply the social dictation of courtship, but in Bride and Prejudice the awkwardness lies not in the social differences between Lalita and Darcy, but in the fact that Darcy is plunged into a different culture that he doesn’t understand.
Another example of this extension of Austen’s themes is shown through the song ‘No Life Without Wife’, a choreographed song and dance number in which Lalita explains to her sisters what she yearns for romantically. Wilson writes that this scene’s focus on ‘the importance of marriage to the individual, family, and nation, also reveals how the conventions of Bollywood cinema suggest an affinity between this form and British culture as represented in early-nineteenth-century novels of manners’ (325). Indeed, Wilson’s argument serves to illustrate the notion of ‘travel to different cultures’ (Hutcheon -); Chadha takes a thematic issue from Austen’s narrative and culturally updates it and makes it relevant, whilst still keeping the original message prevalent throughout. Furthermore, the lyrics of the song – ‘I don’t want a man [who]…wants a pretty wife to make him proud’ – show a culture going through the same transitions as Austen’s England but in the context of a much later time period (Bride and Prejudice). Just as Austen’s Elizabeth fought pre-conceived social structures such as those of arranged marriages, Chadha’s Lalita fights the same pre-arranged destiny and strives dictate her own discourse and find love for herself.
Continuing the exploration of music and dance, it is worth noting Anna Morcom’s argument that in the Bollywood tradition, songs play an extensive role in the ‘emotional expression’ of a scene or situation (15), and music is considered to be ‘an expressive equivalent to speech’ and indeed an extension of speech (Vasudevan -). Songs such as ‘Take Me To Love’, a musical number conveying a growing romance, illustrate this. There is a definite lack of dialogue, however, love prevails over cultural prejudices and differences as the increasing bond is portrayed between Lalita and Darcy. Significantly, the appropriation of the music and dance tradition is here advantageous to Chadha in that the music is an effective device through which she translates Austen’s literary depiction of...

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