Besides, as my friend M. points out, present-day India isn't all that different from eighteenth century Victorian England that Austen wrote about.
Everyone thinks about marriage and people pair up, sometimes even with the right person and there are these big fat families with these stereotypical characters and their money issues, and the need to do what is proper against the desire to try the most inappropriate thing we possibly can.
Perhaps, it's all becoz people havent really changed all that much over the last two centuries. Circumstances might have altered, societies have supposedly evolved but our emotions are just as confused and confounding at times.
Well, about the movie, it's pretty interesting, especially if you've read all the Austen books. Each character is sort of based on an Austen character type. The marry-everybody-off-and-gossip-about-it lady, the never-say-die romantic, the beautiful-but-bashful woman, the passionate-but-picks-the-wrong-partner girl, the sensible Plain Jane who finally finds true love and of course, the quiet, handsome, misunderstood Mr. Nice Guy. Six books and six people in the book club. And the events of the book subtly parallel the events of their lives, and the decisions they make are mirrored with those Jane Austen wrote for her characters.
Like my friends said, it's not necessary to have read the books, but already having read them will provide an added dimension.
In fact the movie is exactly like a Jane Austen book, too. You can see the happy ending coming from a mile off but we learn a lot about these people as we go along, we care about them and we cheer when they do get their happy endings.
I cud argue that life doesn't provide happy endings to everyone, and working in a hospital puts that in even sharper perspective. But perhaps that's becoz life is like an Austen book without the direct payoffs, if she'd written them to be longer and more complicated. Even in her books, not everyone has a happy ending, and often, choices are shown to have wildly unpredictable consequences. In her books, those that are too charming are never to be trusted and almost every character has hidden depths.
I like how the movie talks about the minor characters in the books having a secret life that even Austen wasn't aware off. Like speculating if Charlotte Lucas from Pride & Prejudice could be a lesbian, for example. But hasty interpretations aside, I think I'll quote my brother, who prefers sci-fi over other kinds of books, like Grigg in the movie. But on my insistence, he read Sense & Sensibility and then Persuasion and he said, "Austen's books are more than how-to-get-married manuals, they're about determinedly doing what brings you happiness, at great initial risk. They're highly individualistic."
I agree. Which is probably why they're such best-sellers more than two hundred years after they were written. And they keep making these fabulous movies with these great actors that win Oscars. There are Jane Austen scholars who dissect and describe every single character, line of dialogue, description and turn of events to find a rich collection of underlying themes.
And without pontificating, they still talk about things everybody cares about. Not the existential dilemmas of one hallowed soul, but the everyday decisions and compromises that regular yet unique people must make.
Which is why I wonder if I really am living out a Jane Austen novel. And this way, we all get to be Elizabeth or Anne or Marianne or Elinor or Emma, leading ladies of our lives, striding into a glorious future of our own making.
P. S. If anyone knows a guy like Grigg, the sweet sci-fi geek who cares about the environment and doesn't care about upholstery, please contact me pronto! :D