Mira Nair's winner of the Golden Lion award at Cannes offers a refreshing look at India away from the normal gloss of Bollywood.
The Vermas are an upper-middleclass family living in Delhi and are preparing for their daughter's wedding. The bridegroom is soon to arrive from America to meet his bride for the first time while the bride is still hoping for her secret lover to leave his wife. Mr Verma (Naseeruddin Shah) is overloaded with the preparations and the whole extended family arriving from various parts of the globe while trying to keep the dubious wedding-organiser Dubey (Vijay Raaz) in check. When the groom and the whole family arrive the issues and tensions, it is slowly revealed, run deeper than the present wedding.
Nair is more interested in characters rather than plot. Rather than following the traditional Bollywood narrative focus on the bride and groom, here the parents, cousins, uncles and servants equally share the limelight. Sexual tension, sexuality issues, a paedophilic uncle, family honour and obligation and class differences are all looked at with intelligent care and compassion. Through the study of this modern Indian family we are given a microcosm of modern India, or at least modern Delhi. Interspersed with the central action in and around the comparative grandeur of the Vermas' house are street scenes grounding the film's setting within a city that is also overcrowded, dirty and poor. The use of hand-held camera, colloquial language and a generally realist style purposefully detach Monsoon Wedding from the pure escapism of Bollywood. Nair does not want to escape from India's modern problems but embrace them. The film opens with a television debate on the westernisation of India versus its traditional values. The rest of the film is obviously concerned with this debate and the conflict between tradition and modernity are constantly at the fore.
This is not a gritty Nil By Mouth type of realism, however; it is simply honest. Some aspects of Bollywood are retained because they are part of Indian culture - the importance of singing and dancing to the marriage preparations and ceremony and the emotions involved almost make the sub-titles unnecessary at points. The close portrait of the Vermas gives them an emotional universality with which anyone can connect; at once deeply embedded in Indian culture and also transcending it. Nair's film is funny, touching, entertaining, refreshing and important for Indian cinema.
Reviewed by Tim Smedley
Reader comments about Monsoon Wedding
satinder (Email address withheld) writes:
this is one of the best films i have seen...and i'm not that easy to impress. i didn't want it to end,and what is more so, i wanted to be there! i have never seen a mira nair film before but shall be watching her work with interest from now on. ps the guy who played 'rahul' is hot! lol xx
Mridula (Email address withheld) writes:
One of the best movies I have ever seen. It tackles some of the very sensitive issues present in an average family.
Angela (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes:
THIS IS BEST MOVIE!I LOVE IT VERY MUCH.RANDEEP HOODA IS PERFECT!LOVE YOU ALL
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Ellie (Email address withheld) writes:
A very atmospheric soundtrack and a great film. The different stories counterbalanced eachother very well. I particularly liked the sub plot of Dubey and Alice.
roops (email@example.com) writes:
well made movie!!!! really an awesome one....randeep hooda rocks in the movie...tooooo gud 2 watch....gr8 work by mira nair!!!
Corinne from Lebanon (Email address withheld) writes:
Incredible movie!! It's rare that I say that about one... It got me laughing and crying at the same time, all through it. But I've been going nuts trying to find pictures of Randeep on the net! There are so few! Any idea where i can find more?
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