When asked to describe a wedding in India, I have often
felt inadequate to the task of conveying the spirit of the
event. More a festival than a ceremony, it is several days
full of singing and dancing, laughter and games, savory foods
and brightly colored clothes. Director Mira Nair has
succeeded in capturing the essence of this most lavish and
emotional of Indian family occasions.
Using the colorful chaos of a traditional Punjabi wedding
in modern-day India as a backdrop, Monsoon Wedding
is a celebration of family, marriage, and love.
Lalit Verma (Shah) and his wife Pimmi (Dubey)
are preparing for the wedding of their beloved daughter Aditi
(Das) in their Delhi home. With wilting flower arrangements,
gift one-upmanship, and a rebellious teenage son to contend
with, they find themselves leaning upon each other for comfort
as they prepare to give their daughter away.
Little do they know that Aditi has been having an affair
with her married boss, and is having second thoughts about
entering into an arranged marriage with Houston engineer Hemant
Rai (Dabas), even as relatives from around the globe
are arriving for the grand event.
Aditi’s only confidante is her independent-minded cousin
Ria Verma (Shetty), who plans to study creative writing
and is unphased by the concern over her unmarried status.
However the arrival of a family friend brings back painful
memories that will eventually test familial bonds.
Meanwhile, in a sweet and funny “upstairs, downstairs” subplot,
the irascible wedding contractor P. K. Dube (Raaz)
finds himself unexpectedly smitten by the Verma family’s maid,
Alice (Shome), and what ensues is a courtship filled
with moments of quiet drama and romance amidst the tumult
of the main event.
Perhaps best summarized when the teenaged Ayesha Verma (Neha
Dubey) declares the Australian-schooled Rahul Chadha (Hooda)
to be a “foreigner,” Mira Nair has done a wonderful job of
highlighting the struggle of Indians today to reconcile traditional
values with rapidly changing attitudes toward life, love,
and family. She does this with a deft hand, allowing the characters
to deal with these issues in an honest way without preaching
or pathos, and thus retaining the ensemble comedy feel of
Filmed on location in Delhi, Monsoon Wedding is filled
with beautiful scenes that show a modern-day India still steeped
in ancient ways. A wonderful homage to the India I remember
and love, this movie will leave you with a song on your lips
and a dance to your step.