The majority of the trivia facts listed today come directly from the DVD commentary which was a treasure trove of behind-the-scenes details. If you’ve listened to the commentary previously, you may do very well on the quiz. You also know that the director of this film, Gurinder Chada, is charming and witty in addition to her brilliant directorial abilities.
- When Ashanti was in India to film her musical number on the beach at Goa, what did her diet consist of?
- Who was identified as “The Indian MC Hammer” in the film?
- Which American Musical served as the stylistic inspiration for the “No Life Without Wife” musical number?
- Who were the infamous former real-life residents of the residence that served as Balraj and Kiran’s London house?
- How were the dancing extras in the “Marriage has Come to Town” musical scene cast?
- What did Aishwarya Rai* do to seem more like an ordinary Indian girl for her role as Lalita Bakshi?
- Where is the Mexican restaurant used for Will and Lalita’s dinner date scene located?
- What natural phenomenon made filming the nighttime beach party scene in Goa particularly difficult?
- What is Lalita referring to when she sings, “you’ll have to ask the queen” in the “Marriage has Come to Town” song?
- In Pride and Prejudice, a major theme was the differences in social class. How was this theme altered in Bride and Prejudice?
20.) Bollywood meets Hollywood by way of the UK – Technically classified as a British film, 70% of the production was required to be shot in England, which means that many of the scenes representing India and America were actually filmed on location in England, carefully staged to look like India or America. With some 80 days of filming, at least 56 of those occurred in the UK. Some of the more interesting ones are included in trivia points below.
19.) The “Cobra Dance” really is a “thing” in Bollywood – This dance is called a “Nagin” or “Nagina” and dates to the 1950’s in Bollywood cinema. A variation on this dance is currently a popular event at Indian Weddings.
18.) Whatever you do, don’t look down – After all the prospective husbands have quit Amritsar, we are left with the melancholy Bakshi sisters wondering what just happened. There is a scene where Aishwarya Rai sings a sorrowful ballad on a balcony that overlooks the Golden Temple. Her popularity in India is so potent that they needed 400 police officers stationed on the street below the balcony to protect her and keep the crowds at bay.
17.) “Inception” scene was done for sound effects in the fight – There is a scene where Darcy and Wickham come to blows in a London theater that is showing Bollywood films. They choreographed the scene so that the sounds of the movie fight playing in the background eliminated any need for real-life fight sounds between Darcy and Wickham.
16.) The London landmark you may not have recognized – The use of well-known landmarks to establish location is a common device in both Western and Bollywood films. When the Bakshis travel to London, we see Big Ben, London Bridge, the London Eye, some prominent London skyscrapers, St. Paul’s Cathedral, an aerial view of the city and then, the new Sikh temple in Southall. The temple was included as a nod to the importance of that building as a London landmark to Sikhs and Indians who would see the film.
15.) So you think he can’t dance? – Nitin Ganatra, the actor who plays Mr. Kohli is actually a very good dancer, having been a breakdancer in his younger days. He had to “act” like he couldn’t dance in the stick dance scene.
14.) Religion is anything but taboo in Bollywood films – Most Bollywood films start out with a view of a religious building for good luck. The Golden Temple in Amritsar is featured, personally selected by the director because she is a Sikh and felt that Sikhs all over the world would appreciate that.
13.) A house fit for a king – The residence of Balraj and Kiran in London, with a view of Windsor Castle across the river was purchased as a residence for Wallis Simpson by the Edward, Prince of Wales, who would briefly be known as King Edward III, before the abdication.
12.) Location, location, location – With the requirement that 70% of the movie be filmed in England, the director was very tuned into Indian resources there. For the garba dance scene–aka the stick dance scene–she recalled that there was a society that rented Greenford Hall once a year to garba dance, so she called the hall and got their number. The dancing extras in the scene came from Wemberley, North London, and West London, recruited in exchange for a donation to their society.
11.) So you think you can dance? – The market musical number at the beginning of the film required many extras in addition to the dancers. The audition method the director used was brilliant. She turned on some music and told people to dance. She didn’t care if they were skilled dancers. She simply cast the people who looked like they were having fun.
10.) Ash’s foot phobia – in the fantasy sequence where the Bakshi sisters are singing to Lalita about what it will be like to be married to Mr. Kholi, there is a vignette where Lalita is massaging his lower legs. They originally wanted it to be a foot rub, but Asharwaya Rai refused to touch his feet. She only agreed to touch his lower legs for the scene after they had sprayed his feet. The disgust on her face is real.
9.) The Indian MC Hammer – Naveen Andrews who played Balraj (In the black clothes was initially so daunted by the choreography of the dancing in this pre-wedding party scene that he told the director he would need a double to do the dancing. In the end, with lots of practice, he did his own dancing. He did a rather impressive job, too.
8.) The lengths we’ll go for Mexican food – Once again, due to the requirement to film the majority of the film in England, a Spanish Restaurant in Clapham was outfitted as a family-owned Mexican Restaurant in Los Angeles. Latino talent was recruited from various Latin American centers, right down to a mariachi band. This is the site of the “falling-in-love” scene, which is formulaic in Bollywood Romance films but was handled with a light touch so that Western audiences wouldn’t be turned off by it.
7.) Smile and pretend you’re having a good time – Although you can’t see it on the film, swarms of insects formed under the canopies at head level in this Goa party scene. The film crew burned incense to reduce the numbers.
6.) How does a former Miss World look more average? – Asharwya Rai is a beauty queen, Bollywood movie star, and supermodel. In order to look more like an ordinary Indian girl from the country, she gained twenty pounds for the film and was often dressed in jeans and a casual shirt both to minimize her glamour and portray her as a modern woman.
5.) Marriage between a Caucasian and an Indian is not a big deal in India – The director has been approached by numerous people asking why there was no scene between Mr. and Mrs. Bakshi expressing their dismay over their daughter marrying a white man. This question initially surprised her. Although this sentiment does occur in England and America among expatriated Indians, it is not perceived as a problem in India where these types of marriages are common.
4.) Shark in the water…wait, it’s just Wickham – Although the introduction of Johnny Wickham in a scene where he mysteriously emerges from the ocean might seem a little over the top to western audiences, it is a typical entrance for a rival male in a Bollywood film. If it had been “pure” Bollywood, it would have been in slow motion, so normal speed was a concession to western sensibilities.
3.) Ashanti’s musical number – Bollywood films traditionally have one song performed by a musical celebrity they refer to as the “item” number. It often has nothing to do with the plot and is generally a sexy number with a beautiful female star. Ashanti performed the “item song” in Bride and Prejudice, flying into Goa to film for just a couple of days in the middle of a world tour. She was so worried that she would get sick from the food there that she subsisted on instant noodles and microwave popcorn.
2.) Poking at a sore spot – There is a playful verse in the “Marriage has Come to Town” music number that was potentially controversial. The director was repeatedly pressured to cut it from the film but she refused. The lyrics of the verse are:
Fancy pearls and precious stones, imported from far and wide.
We melt and mould and set for our twenty-four carat bride.
Cut, colour, clarity,the best you’ve ever seen.
Only the Kohinoor is better, but you’ll have to ask the queen.
The famous Kohinoor diamond was originally mined in India. Some factions believe that England stole it, while others say it was a gift to Queen Victoria. It is currently one of the British crown jewels and carries a reputation of bringing bad luck to any man who wears it, so it has only been worn by the women of the British royal family.
1.) Culture clash begins in casting – The cast members for each of the three countries represented in the film were residing and working in the nation their character is from. This created not just the sense of a culture clash we see in the film but also created cultural tension among the mixed cast and crew on set, which did carry over into the first scenes that were filmed.
This “Bollywood meets Hollywood” film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice has been such fun to explore. How did you do on this trivia challenge? Did you learn anything new today? I look forward to reading your comments.
Answers: 1. Instant noodles and microwave popcorn, 2. Balraj, played by Naveen Andrews 3. Grease 4. King Edward III and Wallis Simpson, before he abdicated the throne, 5. They hired the extras who looked like they were having fun in an impromptu dance. 6. Gained 20 pounds 7. Clapham district in London, England. 8. Swarms of insects that gathered under the canopies. 9. The Kohinoor diamond, which was found in India but is in possession of the Queen of England. 10. Culture differences between India, England, and America.
*Aishwarya Rai married in 2007. Her married name is Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.