Week Six: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (and Bride and Prejudice)

Book Five! This was read from February 3rd to February 9th 2014.  In continuation of my theme, here’s my second book of February by Jane Austen. Since, Austen is ancient history and I will probably have nothing new to say about her, I decided to do that which I do best. The first three weeks of February-books by Austen are in comparison to their Bollywood adaptations! You read that right, I actually merged my love for kitschy Hindi movies with literature. Also, because after the first month, it was a little tooooo tedious to write on and on about every book I read (with two challenges, this lag in posting opinions is just increasing!).
Short Mein Bole Toh: The book is simply a show of how important it is to get your daughter married and applies the wisdom of Austen’s era to her characters. Surprisingly, Indians in this century might well be living in the Georgian Era. That is how seamlessly the book fits India.
If you’ve time, then please read the rest of my opinion of this book and the Bollywood movie (Bride and Prejudice) based on it.
Pride and Prejudice is one of those books that my mom has read and enjoyed as much as I have and even my friends who consider themselves to be non-readers (no such term). The base of the story is simple, family with too many daughters wants to get them married to worthy and rich men. The daughters have different personalities and hence finding a boy is a tough job. If that sounds familiar to you, as a reader from India, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Bollywood has had this theme for its movies since times immemorial. It’s one of those few instances where reel life actually is inspired by real life. Indians with large families of daughters who are of marriageable age is not unheard of. That is one of the premises of an entire sector of business that we know as matrimony helpers.

In every possible way, Pride and Prejudice lives up to the genre specific tropes. The girl, Elizabeth (Liz) hates a man because she finds him haughty, falls for another who turns out to be of bad character, discovers the first man and then happily ever after follows. The other sisters are archetypes for other kinds of “brides”. The eldest Jane is kind, so finding her a husband shouldn’t be tough, Mary has the qualities sought after in a bride – studious and music lover, the youngest two are the opposites where Lydia has no opinion of her own and follows her sister around while Kitty flirts with everyone she meets.
If you see, the movie practically wrote itself. While the only changes to adapt the book into the Indian setting include changing the number of sisters to 4 with Lydia removed, Lalita (Aishwarya Rai)  being a mellowed down version of Liz and Darcy as a misunderstood character more than prejudiced as in the novel.
I find Liz to be a very vain character. She forms her own opinions about people and then holds them up to her expectations. Obviously, the movie makes Lalita like-able and changes the circumstances under which her opinions form.

There a lot of things I can say about the movie, but since this is about the book, I will keep it short. I prefer the movie because of the following reasons:

1. The music is brilliant! Though it is by Anu Malik, it is not the typical music he usually dishes out. If you understand Hindi, then I recommend watching the songs from both the English and Hindi version (Balle Balle Amritsar to L.A.!) and appreciate the job done by Farhan Akhtar on the lyrics of both languages.
2. The movie is very funny in parts. Mr. Kohli trumps Mr. Williams any day!
3. Anupam Kher and Nadira Babbar as Mr. and Mrs. Bakshi.
This is the part where I contemplate if the re-reading helped me understand the text better. Yes it did! A lot of subtleties including innuendo stare me up in the face. Even better, I enjoyed a movie!
Who Should Read: If you love romances and a tale where two people who seem to be wrong for each other but are actually right come together in the end.
Who Should Not Read: If you’ve no stomach for a story where the main plot revolves around marriage. But honestly, that’s the point of the book!
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Week Five: Emma by Jane Austen (and a bonus about Aisha!)

Book Five! This was read from January 27th to February 2nd 2014.  In continuation of my theme from last week, I did four books by Austen for February. Since, Austen is ancient history and I will probably have nothing new to say about her, I decided to do that which I do best. The first three weeks of February-books by Austen are in comparison to their Bollywood adaptations! You read that right, I actually merged my love for kitschy Hindi movies with literature. Also, because after the first month, it was a little tooooo tedious to write on and on about every book I read (especially since reading regularly was task in itself, hopefully, the lag in posting reviews will end soon).
Short Mein Bole Toh: Don’t blame Sonam Kapoor. The book is just as stupid. Actually, go ahead and blame her. There was no reason good enough to turn this book into a movie! Except for may be her clothes.
If you’ve time, then please read the rest of my opinion of this book and the Bollywood movie (Aisha) based on it.
Sometime in late 2012 or early 2013 I remember reading this article in Bombay Times, that doting papa Anil Kapoor had decided to buy the movie rights for the books that beti Sonam Kapoor liked. I also remember thinking what on earth prompted such a move! Aisha clears a lot.
Just so that we don’t forget, this is my opinion of the book and a small part is talking about the Bollywood movie.
If you’ve forgotten about my obsession with women authors, I will not blame you; it’s been long since I kept up my end of the bargain about writing an opinion piece about books that I read. So this February, feeling very enthused and banking on all my childhood memories of Austen, I decided to re-read them and enjoy the other-worldly feeling I used to derive out of the typical girl-meets-boy stories.

Emma is perhaps Austen’s least like-able story that I have read. Sure, it is based on a premise where marriage and stereotypical gender roles define the plot (as do most books of the period), it is also the one where Austen’s lead character is extremely vain. Yup, we’ve seen that with the famed Liz from Pride and Prejudice, even then Emma would beat her by a mile.

To cut it short, Emma thinks of herself as a matchmaker after successfully getting her governess (her aunt in Aisha) to marry and makes it the aim of her life to get Harriet – a parlour maid – married. What happens next is anyone’s guess. The matchmaking falls flat on its face and Emma realises that all this while she’s been living in the clouds of her own day dreams. I cannot put it more politely.

Remember my opinion of Little Women? Unlike the women here, the ones in Little Women face a lot of hardships and then emerge as mature, strong willed women. Obviously since the two novels come from different eras, a direct comparison is not fair. However, as novels that are handed over to little girls, we must really think of what exactly are we asking them to read when we give them Austen?
Austen is known to have famously said in her memoirs that Emma would be a character that no body but she, as an author, would like. Truer words were never spoken. Emma is rich spoilt brat who whiles away her time. Do you see where I am going with this? The “role” was practically written for Miss Kapoor. She gets to indulge in multiple “charitable” causes, dress up for a day at the races, one at the riverside, a party, an art show, Mumbai darshan [not an apt link]  as well as a dog shelter (because cute puppies on the screen justify everything).
I will be very fair to Aisha when I say that the movie is an excellent adaptation of the novel. It’s just as revolting and ridiculous. The saving grace (if you’re into it), are the clothes, hats, accessories that Kapoor and Co. don throughout the movie. Honestly, a book could be written about those alone. Poor Abhay Deol.

Yup! That headline summarises the movie.

Did the re-reading give me a new perspective on the book? Obviously! Do I pity myself on reading it and then watching Aisha? Nope! It’s like watching a brainless Govinda on the TV screen while munching on a tub full of popcorn and potato chips, it’s not healthy but why not!

What happens in the end? Obviously, Emma (Sonam Kapoor) decides to marry Knightly (Abhay Deol). Amit Trivedi is the star of the movie btw.
Who Should Read: If you want to know what the hype around Austen is, and want to get done quickly. Possess immense amount of patience and plan to watch the movie later.
Who Should Not Read: Have you read Shakespeare’s Midsummer’s Night’s Dream? Did you like it? No? Don’t read this. The pairings and re-pairings and the travel between multiple locations are just as crazy.