Bollywood and Bollywood-styled Films Every Janeite Will Love
Updated: Feb 11, 2022
On January 27th, Jane Austen & Co. is going to Bollywood with our talk on “Emma in Bollywood: The Small World of Aisha.” Tristanne Connolly will be discussing Aisha: a Hindi-language Bollywood film adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma.
Aisha is a fun, modern adaptation of Emma that also takes inspiration from Clueless. It is a must-see film for all Janeites. You can watch Aisha in the US on Hulu or rent it on Amazon Prime. It is also available on Amazon for rent in the UK.
To get ready for this fantastic talk, we're visiting some of our favorite Indian and Bollywood-style films that take inspiration from Jane Austen.
Bride and Prejudice
Bride and Prejudice, also titled Bride and Prejudice: A Bollywood Musical is a 2004 adaptation of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Bend it Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha presents a lively, Bollywood musical that places the general plot and characters from Austen’s original novel into modern-day India. In the film, the Bennet family becomes the Bakshi family, Lizzy is now named Lalita (played by Aishwarya Rai) and Mr. Darcy becomes William Darcy (Martin Henderson), an American and friend to the film’s Bingley character, Balraj. Bride and Prejudice retains the exciting, rom-com feel typical of Bollywood movies while translating the issues of marriage and social class present in Austen’s novel to the cross-cultural, postcolonial context of today’s India.
How to watch: Available to stream with an Amazon Prime Video Premium subscription or to rent for $2.99 on YouTube
Read More: Read a thorough and enthusiastic review of Bride and Prejudice by the Jane Austen Centre here.
Kandukondain Kandukondain, or I Have Found It
In the 2000 film Kandukondain Kandukondain, or I Have Found It, Aishwarya Rai once again stars in an Austen Bollywood musical, this time as Meenakshi, the Marianne Dashwood of this adaptation of Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. Tabu plays Sowmnya, who, like Elinor, is sensible and reserved, while Meenakshi, like Marianne, is passionate and romantic. Like Chadha’s Bride and Prejudice, I Have Found It is set in modern India and adapts the general plot points of the Austen novel from which it is based. Upon the death of their grandfather, Sowmnya and Meenakshi lose their home and fortune and must move to the city with their mother to support themselves. The sisters face the pressures of marrying to support their family (while having their own career aspirations), and navigate romances that echo the ones in Austen’s novel.
Ultimately, Kandukondain Kandukondain, or I Have Found It, beautifully adapts the class, financial, and romantic struggles of Austen’s Sense and Sensibility to fit those of our early 2000s Indian heroines.
How to watch: On Amazon Prime for $1.99 or YouTube for $2.99
Read More: For further reading, here is one viewer’s summary and review of the film.
Ishq Vishk may not be a direct adaptation of Mansfield Park, but many have noticed resonances of Austen’s novel in the film. In this film, Payal, our Fanny Price character, attends university with her childhood best friend, Rajiv, our Edmund Bertram. The romance between them is reminiscent of that in Mansfield Park, as quiet and shy Payal harbors a lifelong, unrequited love for Rajiv, whose head has been turned by a rich, vivacious Mary Crawford-like character, Alisha. In most other aspects, the similarities between the plot of Austen’s novel and the film dissipate. Eager to be accepted into the popular group of students that only accepts couples into the clique, Rajiv pretends to fall in love with Payal, subsequently using her feelings for him to manipulate her. Like Fanny in Mansfield Park, Payal provides the moral focus and emotional drive in the film.
Whether or not Ishq Vishk was intended to serve as a Bollywood Mansfield Park remains unclear However, this Janeinte reviewer describes the similarities between the Austen’s novel and the Bollywood film.
How to watch: On Netflix and Amazon Prime with subscriptions
Bonus Movie: Netflix’s The Netherfield Girls
Janeites and lovers of Netflix’s original show Never Have I Ever should stay tuned for the unannounced release date of Netflix’s upcoming adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, The Netherfield Girls. While not a Bollywood movie, The Netherfield Girls may be of interest to those looking for an Austen teen romantic comedy starring Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, who plays Indian-American Devi Vishwakumar in Never Have I Ever, a teen series following Devi’s intersectional struggles as a young Indian woman in the United States. Ramakrishnan will be playing the role of Lizzie Bennet in what promises to be an entertaining, modern-day adaptation of Austen’s beloved novel.