Monsoon Wedding

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Movie Review by Alice Castle

Starring: Naseeruddin Shah, Lillete Dubey, Shefali Shetty, Vijay Raaz, Tilotama Shome

Director: Mira Nair

If you’ve ever been lucky enough to experience an Indian wedding you’ll know it’s a spectacularly, extravagant affair. Marigolds – the golden wedding flower streaming over everything and everyone, multi-coloured saris threaded with silver and gold and more food than an army could consume in a month. The wedding in Mira Nair’s (SALAAM BOMBAY, MISSISSIPPI MASALA) creation is taking place in a well-to-do suburb of Delhi as the Monsoon season approaches. And as the weather gets more close and sticky, the family ties are melting under the pressure and inevitability of the big event fast approaching.

This is life in modern day – a world caught between tradition and the sweet and sour flavour of globalisation. Many of the family members gathering for the wedding are coming from abroad – the handsome, young groom from Houston, Texas who works as an engineer in IT, the brother of the bride from Sydney where he’s developed an Aussie beach-bum persona and the brother and family benefactor from the Middle East. So you’d expect the assembled guests to be thinking that the beautiful, young bride Aditi should be somewhat in awe of all the sophistication she is about to marry in to. But no – it emerges that she’s been keeping a secret from her loving parents by having an affair with her old boss, Delhi’s answer to Melvyn Bragg, a glamorous and wealthy TV presenter.

Many women shudder at the thought of an arranged marriage but Aditi has agreed to go along with the match to make her parents happy even though she has been involved with another man. She’s decided she wants to come clean with her future husband even if it is going to upset him. This plot aside, there are parallel romances blossoming between the wedding planner and the family’s maid. And it is Aditi’s confidante and cousin Ria who has been keeping an even more disturbing secret from the family. Why do skeletons in closets start to clatter at the most inappropriate times like a big family wedding.

MONSOON WEDDING is a wonderful film. All life is here – rather like a modern day Tolstoy saga. From the mother of the bride sneaking a quick fag in the toilet with her curlers in, to the father trying to keep everyone together while he shouts at the hired hands in a mix of Hindi and English curses, to his youngest son who would rather be a chef or a dancer than keep the good reputation of his family by going to a ‘good’ and ‘character building’ boarding school. The family is fascinating in its very normalness.

Terrific performances from all involved, and a very well written script by Sabrina Dhawan, who’s first feature film this is incidentally. MONSOON WEDDING will be a very welcome start to the New Year.

5 out of 6 stars