boisterous and great fun, Monsoon Wedding is director Mira
Nair’s (Salaam Bombay and Mississippi Masala) audience
appealing tribute to both her own heritage and Bollywood’s outrageous
Sabrina Dhawan’s sassy script, deftly melds five love stories
during preparations for an extravagant Punjabi wedding in New
Delhi. She introduces the Verma family, headed by Lalit, (Naseeruddin
Shah), the cash-challenged father-of-the bride, his vivacious,
wife Pimmi (Lillet Dubey), who have agreed to go all out for the
wedding of their only daughter, the beautiful Aditi (Vasundhara
Das) to a young Indian professional from Houston (Parvin Dabas).
Also there are a host of relatives and in-laws speaking Hindi,
Punjabi and English.
In charge of the elegant wedding celebration is P.K. Dube (Vijay
Raaz), a crafty catering contractor and confirmed bachelor, who
falls in love with the family’s innocent young maid, Alice.
Western audiences, accustomed to prudish Indian films, will be
surprised at the thoroughly modern morality here: The bride-to-be
has a final affair with a callow talk show host; a sexy cousin
tries to seduce a handsome relative visiting from Australia; and
Lalit worries that his teen son, who likes TV cooking shows and
dance, is gay.
Two others are paired by the past: The family’s benefactor Tej
and a cousin Ria, who, at 28, is teased about being an old maid.
At the pre-wedding festivities, Ria is forced to admit the family’s
idol, raped her as a child. This causes Lalit terrible inner turmoil.
At film’s climax, the groom arrives on horseback in the torrential
monsoon and the lavishly dressed bride wades through the mud,
while Dube declares his love on romantic bridge amid a shower
of marigold petals.
This contrasting climax is a fun send-up of an overwrought Bollywood
musical to add frills to this family story.
Cinematographer Declan Quinn’s dexterous lighting and highly mobile
hand held camera keep the movie buoyant, while the musical score,
a hot mix of Indian styles, spices it up. Arjun Bhasin’s costumes
are another treat. (114 minutes, Hindi, Punjabi, and English,
released by USA Films, R, Call 777-FILM).#
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