Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding, an exuberant ensemble comedy is a winner from the word go. Not since her critically acclaimed Salaam Bombay has she displayed her sizable talent as a moviemaker with such finesse.
The Verma family is preparing for the wedding of daughter Aditi (Vasundhara Das). As relatives converge, the father of the bride, Lalit (brilliantly played by Nasiruddin Shah) prowls the family's middle-class property harassing and haranguing the wedding organiser, PK Dupey (Raaz).
Chaos reigns as things seem to be heading for catastrophe. The shamiana is colored white, which is funereal in Lalit's view. PK, the wedding planner, munching marigolds, promises to change the color, and further waterproof it for a mere Rs. 2 lakhs more. The bride to be can't seem to give up sleeping with her married lover. PK falls hopelessly in love with the maid. Sundry relatives experience love and conflict. The groom's mother guzzles gin and tonic, while the bride's mom smokes cigarettes in the bathroom to ease her tension. Confessions are blurted out en route the altar! Expenses mount as the father of the bride and his wife (another winner, Lillete Dubey) struggle to put on a good show for friends and family.
With the monsoons come a cathartic explosion of romance, revelation and liberation. Things get tense when hidden agendas, affairs and secrets threaten to disrupt the wedding and sever family relationships. Nair's bold tackling of subjects and issues generally taboo in Indian films is always refreshing. Poking convention in the eye, she exposes the tense undercurrents of the seemingly joyous family reunion. Revelations about the patriarch with a propensity for molesting little girls, to the midnight gropings of young lovers, the film exposes Indian family secrets as few Bollywood ventures dare to.
Sabrina Dhawan, making her debut with this film is clearly a screenwriter of promise, who we will be hearing a lot about. Shah, Dubey, and Kharbanda, all seasoned actors give their best but the exceptional performances are from Vijay Raaz as the mogra eating PK and Tilotama Shome as the beauteous Alice from Bihar (or Ellis as she is fondly addressed by her beau).
The film is filled with music, including soulful ghazals (traditional love songs), modern Indian pop, jazz and bhangra (Punjabi folk/pop) music, they capture the varied moods and do complete justice to the wedding scenario.
The cinematography is incredible , Declan Quinn works magic with his Hand held camera, stealthily recording slices of monsoon life in Delhi, as well as intimate moments in the turbulent lives of the household.
Monsoon Wedding is a must-see for any connoisseur of good Indian Cinema. The imagery of the Delhi monsoons and the Indian extended family dynamic has never been captured so vividly and vibrantly, making the film a treat as no other inrecent times.
The film won a Golden Lion at the Venice Film festival and was nominated for a Golden Globe in the best Foreign Film category.
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