On Jane Austen’s Birthday, a Look at Some Desi Adaptations of Her Popular Books

On the British novelist's 246th birthday, here's a look at some of the popular adaptations of her books.

3 min read
On Jane Austen’s Birthday, a Look at Some Desi Adaptations of Her Popular Books

It has been 246 years since celebrated British novelist Jane Austen was born. Most of her popular works were dominated by themes such as marriage and society, and even though published in the 19th century, a majority of her writings stand relevant even in today’s social context. Through her themes, she made commentary on our societal constructs, right from the class divide that we have been accustomed to living in, with a special focus on the role of women in matrimony and friendships.


Even though some of it might seem a bit too high society in the contemporary Indian context, be it the debutante balls or the general colonial British undertones of her books, the underlying message can still be relevant today, which is why some of her popular books have been adapted especially for the Indian audience even a century after being published.

On Austen's birth anniversary (16 December) here are some Indian movies that draw from these themes represented in her books, with a special desi twist.

1. Aisha

<div class="paragraphs"><p><em>Aisha</em>, and adaptation of Austen's 'Emma'.</p></div>

Aisha, and adaptation of Austen's 'Emma'.

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

Aisha (2010), starring Sonam Kapoor, Abhay Deol, and Amrita Puri and directed by Rajshree Ojha, is an adaptation of Jane Austen’s 1815 book ‘Emma’. Sonam’s character Aisha starts playing matchmaker for Shefali, someone who doesn’t belong to the same section of society, and is from a much humbler background. All of this is portrayed against a very light-hearted situation that resembles a lot of contemporary female friendships, and yet the underlying message could be drawn from Austen’s original work– how a member of the rich upper-class presumes it is their right to control social narratives and interactions, and how someone with relatively lesser means is forced to depend on these people to get ahead socially.

2. Bride and Prejudice

<div class="paragraphs"><p><em>Bride and Prejudice</em> adapted from Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice'.</p></div>

Bride and Prejudice adapted from Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice'.

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

Based on Austen’s 1813 novel ‘Pride and Prejudice’, Bride and Prejudice (2004) is among one of the many adaptations of this popular book. Starring Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Martin Henderson, the film is directed by Gurinder Chadha. It takes viewers through the story of an Indian family that is looking for husbands for their four daughters, one of them being Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. Being told to “behave” and “not say something too intelligent,” the girls, especially Rai, are portrayed as modern girls born in a traditional house.


3. Kandukondain Kandukondain

<div class="paragraphs"><p><em>Kandukondain Kandukondain</em> adapted from 'Sense and Sensibility'.</p></div>

Kandukondain Kandukondain adapted from 'Sense and Sensibility'.

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

Kandukondain Kandukodain is a 2000 film based on Jane Austen’s 'Sense and Sensibility', published in 1811. Starring Tabu, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Mammootty, and Ajith Kumar, the film revolves around the story of two sisters who fall for two different men and how their stories play out, with both sisters being betrayed or heartbroken in different ways. Directed by Kalaipuli S Thanu, the film is in Tamil and traces the familial relationships of two sisters and their close-knit family in Tamil Nadu.

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