Aug 8, 2010

Lost in Austen -

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that any article about Pride and Prejudice must begin with the line It is a truth universally acknowledged. But more pertinently to this blog post, it is a truth universally acknowledged that any schoolgirl who reads Pride and Prejudice, particularly in the company of fellow convent schoolgirls, must fall hopelessly in love with the plot, the milieu, and most importantly, with Darcy1. Even Hugh Grant (ex-floppy-haired-bookshop-owner and cor-blimey-was-he-PM-of-Britain-too?) couldn't unseat that juciest of all snooty Darcies, Colin Firth. And he tried.

The 2008 ITV Lost in Austen is a very interesting adaptation of the tale, which takes these very principles to heart. Amanda Price, 21st century Brit girl, looking for true love, is an ardent fan of P&P. One day, she finds Elisabeth Bennett, standing in her salle de bains, mysteriously transported from the world of Austen. They swap places, and the rest of the story is Amanda's 'sojourn' through that world.

Thanks to her presence, there are inevitable complications, such as pre-ordained partnerships going awry. Amanda soon finds herself trying to clear waters that get muddier with every passing day. In a sense, she assumes the role of that other famous Austen girl, Emma, having to steer relationships in the way they are supposed to, and miserably failing at them.

The series has its comic highs, especially in the first episode, but tends to go all sentimental as it heads into the second half of the four-part series. The ending is a little rushed, but overall, it's an entertaining excursion over well-known literary territory. The actors, being British and all, are quite good.

Coincidentally, this viewing comes the same week that India's (probably) first cinematic adaptation of Jane Austen released. I don't understand why people should remake a well-known classic faithfully, and would find the likes of Lost in Austen more appealing. But only if, as this New Yorker mention of Aisha remarked, it came without "zombies or sea-monsters". Or Gurinder Chadha. Brr.

1: applying induction from domestic evidence


Kunal said...

The only Austen work I've read is P&P&Z, and that is awfully one-note as (I think) you're saying. But I think a part of me is just really happy that such a book exists. S&S&SM on the other hand, seems to be taking the joke too far.

Salil said...

Where is the footnote referenced from?

Unknown said...

Salil: whoops - corrected. You'll see it in the first paragraph.

Kunal: heh. I've been outside the whole zombie fad of the last few years. I might watch a zombification of Sholay, with say, Dharmendra turning out to be more than just a connoisseur of canine blood.

Unknown said...

i've never been a Jane Austen fan, but what the last you mentions did to her work is beyond repair. Really.

Ajay said...

Aisha is definitely not India's first Austen adaptation. Kandukondain Kandukondain (sp?) was adapted from Sense and Sensibility.

I read P&P a few years back, and the character that stuck with me most was Mr. Bennett. I feel he gets short shrift because men never read (or admit to reading) the book :)

Unknown said...

Ajay: oh, of course, how did I miss KK! Thanks for pointing that out.

Mr. Bennett has some crackling lines in Lost in Austen (you may remember the actor from Notting Hill - the failed City banker friend) He really suffers in that household :-)

D said...

lovely read... i have had the joy of not having watched Aisha, deferring to my alert mechanisms on Bollywood

Unknown said...

D: thanks. Ever since I wrote glowingly about Abhay Deol, his films seem to have tanked badly. I wouldn't go anywhere near Aisha either.