I have a thing for old soulful Hindi songs playing in the background in any movie, like for example in ‘Ishqiya’ , Vidya Balan and Naseer argue about the music composer of ‘Kuch Dil Ne kaha’ (which happens to be one of my all time favorite songs) , but then I digress.
There is a scene in Monsoon Wedding where the soulful lyrics of ‘Aaj jaane ki zid na karo, youn hi pehlu mein baithe raho’ waltz through the rainy breeze while a would-be bride has a tryst with her married lover. And this is not the only thing I love about this movie.
Much like ‘Rachel getting married’ has a melancholic undertone in an otherwise happy wedding; ‘Monsoon Wedding’ has its mix of gloom among the colorful and vibrant Punjabi wedding. This movie works for me on many levels especially the portrayal of urban Indian families. It captures the exact mix of westernized yet traditional Indians, the cigarette smoking mother, the father who wants to have an extravagant wedding for his daughter but at the same time is concerned about the spiraling costs, the Australian visiting cousin who tries to make out with another girl and the bride’s younger brother who dreams of becoming a chef.
It also shows the realism of arranged marriages, just like that of the Vermas, who may have separate beds but when it comes to a common problem do not fail to come together in a passionate embrace.
There is also the simple love story of the maid with the wedding planner, who lives in a single room with his old mother.
While the story does focus on the rich family, the camera also zooms over the narrow by lanes of Delhi, showcasing the shops, the streets and the one bedroom tenements. A darker story is also revealed in the form of a pedophile uncle whom Mr.Verma boycotts from the wedding once the truth is out.
A wedding is always a melting pot for immediate and extended families and there are a lot of traditional ceremonies in the Indian wedding – like sangeet (where henna tattoo is applied to the bride’s hands amidst singing and dancing by women), the actual baraat (the arrival of the groom) and finally the marriage itself.
An American friend recently asked me ‘Don’t Indians marry the partners picked by their parents?’ and I replied saying ‘The difference is that the partner then is an unknown devil instead of a known devil!’
While most young people in India today go for love marriages, there is still a vast populace who go the ‘arranged marriage’ route.
This movie touches on this topic so subtly when the would-be-bride realizes how futile her affair with a married man is and confesses the truth to her fiancé. And after sleeping over the matter, the groom is able to accept the bride including her past, which is a giant leap from the notion of virginal brides going the arranged marriage route!
All in all, a joyful ride of a good old Indian wedding set in urban India and includes music, dance and not to mention drama.