Saturday, November 19, 2011

Monsoon Wedding

Directed by Mira Nair and written by Sabrina Dhawan, Monsoon Wedding is the story of a father trying to organize a wedding for his daughter as chaos ensues over families coming over and the bride reluctant to marry a man she barely knows. The film explores the world of arranged marriages in India as it deals with changing times and the emotions that entangle throughout the film. Starring Naseeruddin Shah, Lillete Dubey, Shefali Shah, Vasundhara Das, Vijay Raaz, and Tillotama Shome. Monsoon Wedding is a lively yet exhilarating film from Mira Nair.

Four days before the wedding of Aditi Verma (Vasundhara Das), Aditi’s father Lalit (Naseeruddin Shah) is trying to make sure things are done as relatives are coming from all over the world for the wedding in New Dehli, India. With Aditi’s mother Pimmi (Lillete Dubey) and Aditi’s cousin Ria (Shefali Shah) are all trying to help while another cousin in Rahul (Randeep Hoopa) has arrived from Melbourne. Lalit is still dealing with all of the last minute preparations for the engagement party with help from wedding organizer P.K. Dubey (Vijay Raaz) and his crew as Dubey falls for the family maid Alice (Tillotama Shome). Yet, Aditi is having an affair with a married TV producer in Vikram (Sameer Arya) as she has never met her groom Hemant Rai (Parvin Dabas) that is set to meet hours later.

While Hemant is revealed to be a very nice guy, Aditi isn’t sure while Ria finds herself feeling uncomfortable about the presence of Lalit’s brother-in-law Tej Puri (Rajat Kapoor) who seems to be eyeing her young cousin Aliyah (Kemaya Kidwai). Still, Lalit is trying to deal with all of the chaos as he is facing changing times as his young son Varun (Ishaan Nair)doesn’t have the characteristics of typical Indian males. While Dubey’s attraction to Alice leaves him distracted, Aditi starts to face her own issues about Vikram as she feels she needs to be honest to Hemant about her own hesitation. More complications arise when Rahul falls for another relative in Ayesha (Neha Dubey) while Ria’s issues with her uncle Tej finally are revealed with Lalit feeling overwhelmed by the wedding as well as all of emotional entanglements around him.

Organizing a wedding is something that families will have a tough to do but in the span of four days before the wedding is certainly more chaotic. Yet, it all centers around this man and his family as they’re preparing for the big day as he’s just trying to make sure everything goes well. Yet, he has to deal with people in his family as well as a wedding organizer who is doing things differently that is very different from what this man is used to. Meanwhile, there’s all of these little subplots about various young people falling in love while the bride is having her own romantic issues over her married boyfriend and the man she’s soon to wed as she’s trying to get to know him.

A lot of these storylines and various themes could create a story that is chaotic and hard to follow. However, screenwriter Sabrina Dhawan manages to keep it by keeping these stories simple and inter-connected while giving it a very loose style. The themes that Dhawan explores all has to do with what this man is trying to deal with it as he is trying to figure out his finances while dealing with all sorts of family drama. Then there’s these other stories that all relates to the world of what is expected in traditional India such as arranged marriages. For the bride Aditi, she isn’t keen on marrying a man she doesn’t know as she is going through her own issues with a married boyfriend. Then there’s all of these stories about young love as a wedding organizer falls for the family maid as he wonders if he’ll ever get married.

There’s a lot that goes on in the story yet director Mira Nair manages to play up the looseness of the narrative to create a very engaging approach to the film. Shot on location in New Dehli and with a hand-held style, Nair’s direction is truly intoxicating to watch from the way she lets the film play out naturally. Utilizing real locations for most of the film in New Dehli, Nair allows the film to keep up with its frenetic atmosphere while maintaining an intimacy for a lot of the scenes at the Verma home. Throughout the lavish party scenes that involve dance and such, Nair is always making sure to feature what is going and the reaction from the people watching. The overall work that Nair does is truly enchanting as she creates what is truly an insatiable yet wondrous film.

Cinematographer Declan Quinn does a brilliant job with the film‘s colorful cinematography from the bright and colorful look of the daytime exteriors of New Dehli to a more low-key yet vibrant look for its nighttime sequences. Quinn’s work on the interiors are just as engrossing to look from some of the low-key nighttime scenes to the more straightforward look in the daytime scenes. Editor Allyson C. Johnson goes a great job with the editing as she gives the film a stylistic flair with jump-cuts to play up some of the rhythm while presenting the multiple storylines at a smooth pace so that the transitions wouldn’t be abrupt.

Production designer Stephanie Carroll & art director Sunil Chabra do a superb job with the set pieces created such as the tent for the wedding as well as the home of the Verma family that is exotic and filled with vibrant colors. Costume designer Arjun Bhasin does an excellent job with the costumes from the casual clothing the men and women wear when they‘re shopping or going out to the more lavish look for the ceremonies to exemplify the tradition of Indian weddings. Sound editor Magdaline Volaitis does an amazing job with the sound to play up the intimacy of the home along with the raucous mood of the parties with music blaring that mixes up with the conversations that occurs in the film.

The film’s score by Mychael Danna is phenomenal as its mix of orchestral pieces with traditional Indian music is just a joy to hear in all of vibrancy and excitement. The soundtrack also includes an array of Indian music from traditional to Bollywood-style pop music that just furthers the excitement of the film as the overall work on the music is a major highlight of the film.

The casting by Uma Da Cunha, Dilip Shankar, and Loveleen Tandan is outstanding as it features a wonderful ensemble that appears throughout the film. Among the people in the film for very small roles include Dibyendu Bhattacharya as an assistant of Dubey, Sameer Arya as Aditi’s neglectful lover, Kulbhushan Kharbanda and Kamini Khanna as Rahul’s fun-loving parents, Roshan Seth and Soni Razdan as Hermant’s parents, Ishaan Nair as Lalit’s chef-aspiring son, Kemaya Kidwai as Ria’s adolescent cousin Aliyah, and Rajat Kapoor as the slimy uncle Tej. Other notable small roles include Neha Dubey as the flirtatious Ayesha, Randeep Hooda as the slacker Rahul, and Lilette Dubey as Aditi‘s mother as they all bring humor to their roles.

Parvin Dabas is very good as Hermant, Aditi’s future husband who tries to get to know Aditi while understanding her issues with arranged marriages. Tillotama Shome is wonderful as the very quiet maid Alice while Vijay Raaz is excellent as the jabbering P.K. Dubey who falls for Alice. Vasundhara Das is superb as Aditi, the bride who is going through her own relationship issues while facing the idea of being married to man she doesn’t know. Shefali Shah is great as Ria, Aditi’s cousin who is horrified by the presence of an uncle as she tries to prevent something bad from happening. Finally, there’s Naseeruddin Shah is a fantastic performance as the father Lalit who tries to deal with all of the chaos and emotions in the wedding. Shah’s performance is also one of the most compelling where despite his flaws, he adds a warmth and understanding that makes him one of the best dads presented on film.

Monsoon Wedding is an enchanting film from Mira Nair that features an amazing ensemble led by Naseeruddin Shah. The film definitely has something to offer for a wide audience in terms of its themes as well as being something that families could relate to. For people interested in the works of Mira Nair, this film is definitely the best thing she’s done as it has a style that is fluid while being very accessible for the themes she’s presenting. In the end, Monsoon Wedding is a sensational and enchanting film from Mira Nair.

Mira Nair Films: Salaam Bombay! - (Mississippi Masala) - (The Perez Family) - (Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love) - (Hysterical Blindness) - (Vanity Fair) - The Namesake - (Amelia) - (The Reluctant Fundamentalist) - (Words with God) - (Queen of Katwe)

© thevoid99 2011


Mette said...

This was the first Mira Nair film I saw and instantly fell in love with it. I later watched Salaam Bombay, which I thought was a bit better than Monsoon Wedding, but I'd rather re-watch this one, because it doesn't want me to shoot a bullet into my head. There's some comedy and lightness to it.

thevoid99 said...

Of the films I've seen by Mira Nair are The Perez Family, Kama Sutra, Vanity Fair, and The Namesake. I would say this film is my favorite so far with The Namesake in second.

I had a blast watching this film and my mother wants to see this since she is a fan of Indian films.

Mette said...

Oh, sorry to confuse, Salaam Bombay is by Deepa Mehta.

thevoid99 said...

No, Salaam Bombay! is by Mira Nair. You were right.