Directed by Mira Nair. India. 2002.

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Monsoon Wedding interweaves five stories of love and romance in the turmoil of a wedding being organised quickly for Adit Verma and Hermant, an engineer from Texas. 

The opening has the rogueish P.K. Dubey being called to fix a marigold archway for the wedding ceremony. Dubey and his workmen, like those everywhere in the world, are an elusive and feckless bunch. In the steamy atmosphere of the wedding preparations and the monsoon rain Dubey falls in love with the Verma’s maid, Alice. Dubey and Alice share the habit of eating marigolds. Appropriately, the marigold is the Indian wedding flower...

As the family arrives from all corners of the globe to attend the wedding in Delhi we get an insight into how cultural, and class expectations have changed even though they all try to adhere to the old traditions. The US is seen as a place that is restrictive compared to India - in the US smoking is frowned upon, one of the characters ruefully observes.

The story unravels to expose the lives of the people attending the wedding so that by the end of the movie you feel like you are one of the guests. The stories are absorbing and do not degenerate into simplistic soap opera. There is the feeling for the colour and spirit of Delhi and for the music and dance of Bollywood cinema.

Mira Nair makes the film look free-flowing and natural yet this is a sophisticated film that even when dwelling on everyday things draws your attention (for example, the colour, texture and composition of the Verma’s driveway).  We can see the influence of her documentary film-making on this story in the way she uses hand-held cameras to involve the viewer more intimately with the characters, and action.

The is the sort of film that could easily have sunk into pretentious introspection or crowd-pleasing soap opera, Mira navigates these hazards to deliver a message of love for India, family and romance.

Nigel Watson
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