By Ms Shruti Vairagkar (L&T Howden)
The rain bearing clouds but no rain, bring to mind the famous Mohammed Rafi song, ‘aaj mausam bada beimaan hai’. Looking up this song online, my search yielded the movie Monsoon Wedding among its many results. Directed by Mira Nair, this 2001 movie shows an Indian wedding in New Delhi and all that goes on in the great Indian parivaar before the big day.
Monsoon Wedding focusses on the wedding preparation and the family dynamics in the bride’s family. It has characters which one would observe in a typical shaadi ka ghar. There is the father who is worried about the finances; the mother who would like to ensure everything is perfect so that naak nahi kate; the cousin who is closer than a sibling; an annoying younger sibling; extended family relations who are more excited about the wedding; and of course, the bride. Outside the family, other characters who play a prominent role are the decorator and the domestic help. The groom and his family are secondary characters who weave in and out of the storyline.
Apart from the wedding and the preparations for the various ceremonies, the inter-relationships between various family members too is explored. The gratitude towards the brother-in-law who financially helped the family settle down after the partition; the kind uncle and aunt who have travelled down to help with the preparations; a cousin with a secret which is eating her up from the inside; coexistence of husband and wife after many years of matrimony; a pedophilic uncle; a reluctant bride who is in love with someone else and has met her fiancé only a few weeks before the wedding… This is but a glimpse into the jumbled family.
Monsoon Wedding is one of the first modern movies to show a grand Indian wedding without glamourizing it and stripping it of its most important facet – the people in it. The actors are effortless in playing relatable characters, locations are real, the circumstances are common, and the movie doesn’t feel contrived like some of the later releases featuring Indian weddings. The various ceremonies and the scale of the wedding are how most Indians get married even today.
With an ensemble cast consisting of Naseeruddin Shah, Lillete Dubey, Shefali Shah, Vasundhara Das, Vijay Raaz, Tillotama Shome, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, and Rajat Kapoor as major characters, Monsoon Wedding is a feel good movie warming the cockles of the heart and enjoyed with a large bowl of warm popcorn when the heavens finally do start pouring.