"Monsoon Wedding," the first Indian film to win big in North American, is the kind of film people take their friends to. It celebrates universal humanity. Delhi's large Verma family is marrying daughter Aditi (Das) to Hemant (Dabas), a computer programmer and "NRI" (non-resident Indian) from Houston. His parents picked the bride. In the opening, Aditi hurriedly kisses her married lover, a TV host. She's impatient with his vague talk about divorcing his wife, so she's agreed to an arranged marriage. ((We plunge into the middle of things as the two families do. The bride's parents, Lalit (Shah) and Pimmi (Dubey), worry about the weather, their duties at the event, and its cost. The wedding planner, P.K. Dube (Raaz), puts Lalit ill-at-ease with Indian-Englishisms: e.g., "exactly and approximately."
The characters speak English, Hindi and Punjabi, sometimes in one sentence; it's a foreign film but we understand almost everything. Moving between languages is typical of modern middle-class Indians and their compatriots returning from America or Australia, where they work with computers or TV. A young family member wants to study writing in America; a relative, aware of English-language bestsellers about India, says, "Lots of money in writing."
The bride and groom sneak out for quiet talks; they like each other as much as they can so quickly. Romance surrounds them: Aditi's cousin Ayesha (Dubey) is attracted to Rahul (Hooda), from Australia; P.K. Dube is thunderstruck by the Verma's family maid, Alice (Shome); we see a darker intrigue as Aditi's cousin eyes a friend who assaulted her and now is drawn to a young relative.
"Monsoon Wedding" has comedy, a deft way of moving between stories, Declan Quinn's brilliant cinematography, and music woven into the story. Nair's "Salaam Bombay!" and "Mississippi Masala," precede her "Bollywood" movie, as she calls this: like those of Bombay's film industry (the world's largest), full of singing and dancing that break out at any point. But the singing and dancing in "Monsoon Wedding," come from the action, as in a Hollywood musical.
In moments of truth, the young spouses level with each other; P.K. Dube falls to his knees in a hopeless gesture of adoration to Alice; and, in a harsher moment, Aditi's father, who places loyalty to family above all, breaks with tradition to do the right thing in a painful situation.(
Naseeruddin Shah, Lillete Dubey, Shefali Shetty, Vasundhara Das Hemant, Parvin Dabas, Vija
Indian weddings; 2003
English, Hindi, and Punjabi with English subtitles Reviewer's Name:
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