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English v/s Indian adaptation of Emma by Jane Austen

Ever since its publication in 1815, Jane Austen’s novel Emma has seen many on-screen adaptations. Aisha (2010) lengthens the list and comparisons are only natural. Pitch a 1996 TV adaption against Aisha and we see how the two fils score over each other on various accounts.

Handsome, clever and rich is how the central character of Emma Woodhouse is described in the introductory line of the novel. Starring Kate Beckingsale as the protagonist, the TV adaptation does get the handsome and clever part right, but not the rich. Sonam Kapoor as Aisha, however, looks every bit as wealthy and stylish as Emma is said to be. Emma, the TV series, takes us to a bourgeois part of 20th century Britain. Accordingly, we see proper curtseying and mannerisms, ball room dances, puff-sleeved gowns, and large bonnet hats that are typical to the English. Aisha is set in elitist Delhi society where people raise toasts at weddings and take up gardening as a hobby. Financially secure and without a care in the world,  Emma’s character focuses her abilities on matchmaking while she herself declares her wish to remain unwedded. Beckinsale as Emma does or aspires nothing of importance as she goes about her day, socialising. And in that, Aisha is more believable as a character as she is shown to be a budding artist and having a keen interest in animal welfare, apart from shopping and partying, that is.

Kate Beckinsale as Emma

Sonam Kapoor as Aisha

A major aspect where Aisha scores over Emma is the supporting cast. Aisha has a strong ensemble of characters in the form of Ira Dubey (Pinky), Amrita Puri (Shefali), Abhay Deol (Arjun) and Cyrus Sahukar (Randhir). In Emma, none of the actors fail to make an impact or leave a mark. Puri is especially delightful as the small town girl, while her counterpart Samantha Morton as Harriet hardly matches up to her. Beckinsale does not emote aptly and one often wonders what a particular expression is supposed to convey. Ditto for Kapoor. Mark Strong (Mr Knightley) and Deol are both wasted in the movies with hardly any screen time. Characterisation has been given some thought in Aisha, while in Emma, the story moves on a very superficial level, barely connecting us to the characters and their emotions.

Direction-wise too, Aisha is one ahead of Emma as Emma fails to capture the vast beautiful countryside ofEnglandeffectively. Aisha, on the other hand, takes us enjoyably through the streets ofDelhias well as more picturesque locales when characters go on a camping and rafting trip.

Dialogues are another element that either makes or breaks a movie. Emma wows you with the controlled, archaic language that is delivered brilliantly by the actors in a distinguished British accent. Aisha does have a fine supporting cast but the leading lady Kapoor herself says her lines flatly, in an annoying saccharine voice.

The chemistry between Mark Strong and Beckinsale is cackling, unlike that of Deol and Kapoor. As the plot includes merriment and hobnobbing, there is song and dance in both – at Christmas and in a ball room in Emma, and at clubs and weddings in Aisha.

Abhay Deol and Sonam Kapoor in Aisha

Kate Beckinsale and Mark Strong in Emma

On the whole, Emma, the movie and its character, seems rather dull in comparison to the fun, colourful and bold, Aisha.

P.S.: Had written this back in college as part of an assignment in a Feature and Opinion class. Thank you for reading!

If you think I write well about movies, have a look at some my other movie reviews:

Gridiron Gang (2006)

Cats and Dogs 2 ( 2010)

Movie Review: Cats and Dogs 2 (2010)

Starring (voices by): James Marsden, Nick Nolte, Christina Applegate, Katt Williams, Bette Midler, Neil Patrick, Harris, Chris O’Donnell, and Jack McBrayer.

Directed by: Brad Peyton

Barking up the right tree

Rating: ***

 A vengeful feline, an over confident German Shepard, a spunky spy cat, and a hilarious pigeon with an African-American accent – put them together and you have a 3D sequel to Cats and Dogs. The movie takes off by introducing us to the arrogance of our ‘heroic’ lead dog, Diggs (voiced by James Marsden). The arrogance is however miscontructed to be bravery by the Canine Spy Agency and they recruit Diggs on an important mission, failing which, the entire dogkind would be in grave danger.

Diggs is paired with senior spy agent Butch (Nick Nolte) and together they set out to save the world from the aforementioned vengeful cat, Kitty Galore (Bette Midler), who vows revenge against dogs and humans alike using sophisticated and stolen gadgets. As the events unfold, they are joined in their quest by a feline, with an unimaginative name, CATherine (Christina Applegate) from MEOWS and a pigeon, Seamus (Katt Williams).

A still from Cats and Dogs 2

There is little connection to the prequel and the movie is decent enough on its own. Primarily meant for kids, Cats and Dogs 2 does guarantee ample chuckles for parents and other adult audiences, thanks to the witty dialogues and laugh-inducing references to other movies such The Silence of the Lambs, James Bond and romantic comedies in general. The 3D effect is quite mesmerising. However, the climax sequence which takes place at night is not comprehendible due to poor lighting. And the 3D glasses do not help. The premise and plot are simple enough and it they not even meant to be full of surprises. The movie is just a ride that you enjoy without giving much thought to the plot. It is a children’s flick, at the end of it.

Verdict: Do go along with your kid. And on your own if you don’t have one!

If you like my opinion on movies, see how I feel about:

Gridiron Gang (2006)

English v/s Indian adaptation of Emma by Jane Austen

 

Movie review: Gridiron Gang (2006)

Starring: Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Alvin ‘Xzibit’ Joiner, Kevin Dunn, and Leon Rippy.

Directed by: Phil Joanou

Rating: **1/2

In Gridiron Gang, Dwayne Johnson plays a juvenile probation officer named Sean Porter at the Kilpatrick Detention Center who is dismayed at the statistics showing that 75% of the kids who leave their system end up either right back there or in prison, or are shot dead. Sean is agitated, knowing that he could do very little for the kids out there. He figures he needs a new method to help keep these kids from getting killed on the street. Sean and his colleague Malcolm Moore (Alvin ‘Xzibit’ Joiner) decide to install football into their correctional center program, so as to fill up the ‘void’ that the kids experience at the centre where they’re forced to give up their illegal activities as well to teach the kids a sense of responsibility, discipline and to make them feel they’re more than a bunch of losers. That they can be winners too!

However, with only 4 weeks remaining for the football season, the team must sweat it out doubly hard. Porter must overcome numerous odds to form a team that competes with the opposing team and not among themselves as the centre consisted of teenagers from various different street gangs.

The film is loosely based on the true story of the Kilpatrick Mustangs.

The outstanding aspects of the film are definitely the superb acting of the cast and the direction. Mix that up with a feeling of motivation that is given out and we have a really fine movie.

Dwayne Johnson has delivered a fantastic performance. He is believable as a supervisor, as a pushy no-nonsense coach, and as a doting son. He can look tough while dealing with his team and emotional while with his aged mother. Best of all he doesn’t embody the character like a guy trying to prove himself – the familiar trap for aspiring thespians – but plays each moment, whether a bit funny, serious or something in between, with just the right emphasis.

Another central character in the movie is Wille Weathers (Jade Yorker). Wille had killed his abusive step-father which is why he landed up at the detention centre. His cousin, Roger, who was also once at the centre was killed by a rival gang, in a drive-by. He is a brilliant player but is enemies with Kelvin (David Thomas), who is from a rival gang. Slowly, as the movie progresses, it shows how the two learn to play together putting aside their differences and rivalry, how they learn to play as a team and even began to love their team mates. At one point of time, Willie actually saves Kelvin from getting shot in the head by Willie’s own gang member.

On the downside, however, the storyline has nothing new or unusual to offer to its viewers. Its wafer thin plot is predictable and obvious. However, Director Phil Joanou’s handling turns the mundane into the heartening. The on-the-fields shots are shot very well. The different camera angles used is a refreshing and welcome change from the same old. Lively direction, decent background score.

Towards the end of the film, Porter teaches some hard lessons (and learns a few himself) as the kids gain a sense of self-respect and responsibility. The film sends out a message that one man can make a difference and the most hopeless kids in our society can change the course of their lives through hard work, commitment and bold leadership. It comes across as a very grounded, yet motivational film.

While gang struggles and the perils of street life are vividly depicted, the film treads lightly on the race issues as well. This is a film about kids getting a second chance, and the film really celebrates that possibility without trying to overdramatise it.

If you find my views on films agreeable, I have also written about:

Cats and Dogs 2 (2010)

English v/s Indian adaptation of Emma by Jane Austen

Manali

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