Off the Radar is a weekly column reviewing movies that go unnoticed and are available to students for free through the New York University Streaming Partnership. “Monsoon Wedding” is available on NYU Stream.
Monsoon Wedding is a 2001 Hindi-English drama film directed by Miri Nair. It’s like “Hello Bombay!”(Also available on NYU Stream) and most of her other films, Indo-Western Collaboration. Most of the dialogues are conducted in English with periodic use of Hindi and Punjabi.
The film takes place in Delhi, and the essence of the film is a Punjabi-Hindu marriage in the house of the Verma family. The film begins on the engagement day of Aditi (Vasundhara Das) with Hemant Rai (Parvin Dabas), when her parents Lolita (Nasiruddin Shah) and Pimi Verma (Lilet Dabi) feverishly organize all the ceremonies.
Hemant is the son of a family member who lives in Texas. Aditi hardly knows him, but she has to move with him to Houston after their marriage. Meanwhile, Aditi has an affair with his boss Vikram (Samir Arya), a married man who is afraid to leave his wife. A huge wedding for the first time in many years unites the immediate and large family. Once the wedding begins, drama inevitably arises when the secrets of Aditi’s novel are revealed.
“The Monsoon Wedding” was written by Sabrina Dhavan, a professor and screenwriter at the Tisch School of the Arts, and produced by Nair herself, along with American producer Caroline Baron, who won the Golden Globe. The Baron is currently an adjunct professor at Tisch for his undergraduate program in film and television. The film premiered at the Marché du Film section of the 2001 Cannes Film Festival. He then received the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival, was nominated for a Golden Globe Award and received more than $ 30 million in international box office.
The plot depends on marriage by arrangement, a tradition for many communities across the Indian subcontinent. Arranged marriages fall on the vast majority of marriages in India today. Practice is key to understanding India’s family dynamics. The concept of marriage by arrangement is simple: the bride and groom are arranged for marriage based on their compatibility and certain criteria that families are looking for. The union offers financial and family stability with the possibility of love and emotional connection.
Arranged marriage is not just a marriage between spouses, but a union of two families. It is a marriage of their kind that includes honor, prestige, finances and so on. In India, weddings traditionally take place over several days, from engagement to post-wedding reception. These ceremonies are associated with many intermediate events that vary depending on the region of India. Arranged marriage in India offers a beautiful picture of diversity, scale, celebration and pomp in the country. Nair calls it the monsoon wedding, referring to the intense winds that carry rains across Southeast Asia on a seasonal basis.
The film has a documentary meaning typical of Nair’s other works, as he spends his time describing the daily activities of the house where the wedding takes place. As an Native American who has spent most of his life in India, where the film was made and made, and now lives in New York, where most of the film was made, I believe that the film is an authentic reflection of the India that holds on to mind the western audience.
When we see new novels unfold in one family, we also see evolution and revolutions in other relationships, with the film touching on topics such as gender inconsistency, sexual violence and feminism. Also reflected are the double standards of Indians, which include in their way of life Western ways that are variously seen as complex but a sign of debauchery in Indian society. A refreshing aspect of the film is that it tells not only about the central family of the upper middle class, but also about people on the periphery of the family representing different classes, castes and religions.
It is a feat that Mira Nair is able to deal with the intricacies of a huge Indian wedding in a nearly two-hour film. As a valuable window into Indian culture, “Monsoon Wedding” provides high drama and genuine emotion, recreating the experience of a grand Indian wedding.
Contact Indranil Bass at [email protected]