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|Index||214 reviews in total|
I went to to see this film almost by chance and I was rewarded by a gem. A
truly sublime mix of musical, social comment and romantic movie-making at
its best. Unlike many others I was not familiar with Mira Nair's work at
all, but after having seen how she delicately handles child-abuse,
pre-arranged-marital-infidelity, growing old and trying to be different as
an upper middle class Indian boy, being a flirtatious, bored but basically
settled non-resident Indian housewife, or being a too well-doing for your
own class "wedding-parties producer" desperately seeking for love - I have
This is a Great Film by a Great Director and you might not want to miss it...
Monsoon Wedding was perhaps one of the most brilliant films I have ever
seen. It took me somewhere I'd never been, and by the time two hours
were up, I felt at home.
A lot of the film's success was in the acting. Talented portrayals of deep complex characters who can make you laugh and cry in just minutes. I was amazed how easy it was to keep tabs on no less than 5 separate subplots without getting the characters mixed up or losing interest.
Another key to Monsoon Wedding's success was how the camera told as much story as the actors and dialogue. Lingering shots on a character who doesn't seem part of the action revealed so much more than dialogue could.
And the most amazing thing - this film was made in 30 days!! Couldn't believe it. Fantastic production values, mind, not like many other Indian movies I've seen. And down-to-earth realistic, not like Bollywood. Yes, there is singing and dancing, but in context, not every five minutes!
I don't have anything against Bollywood, but I'm glad to see that there is a higher standard of Indian film-making out there.
This movie is full of joy. Happy, cheerful, with so many characters, and most of them good, interesting ones. It is the story of a wedding in upper class Delhi. A large family spread all over the world reunites for the big event and all the ties and feelings between siblings, cousins, parents, friends are shown and expressed in a light but touching way. Love, friendship, envy, pain, sorrow, loneliness, passion and hope in a nearly perfect mix. This movie is full of colours and music, and it is an accurate portrait of modern India (the wealthier part of it at least). All actors are good, and some of them are gorgeous too. Very refreshing as there are no super stars, no blood, no perfect special effects, no sex. Mira Nair you are great ! Hope you'll give us many other movies this good.
In Delhi, the wealthy father of the bride (Lalit, played by N. Shah)
prepares an elaborate wedding. We meet his extended family, arriving
from as far as America for the wedding, beginning with a formal
engagement party 4 days before. Several subplots are followed: Additi,
the bride, has chosen an arranged marriage instead of waiting for her
married lover to leave his wife. Ria, her cousin, has never married and
is being pestered by all concerned. We learn that Ria's father, Lalit's
big brother, has passed away and so Lalit is her father-figure as well.
Dubey, the wedding organizer, becomes smitten with Alice, Lalit's maid.
As the days pass, family joys and family secrets are revealed.
I cannot praise this movie enough. First of all, kudos to N. Shah for a sensitive, complex portrayal that never, for a moment, feels like acting. Without hand-held camera pretensions, Monsoon Wedding nonetheless feels more like meeting a family at a big affair than watching a movie. It is real and intimate, yet magical. All the performances are good; Rajat Kapoor as an uncle with a secret is particularly powerful, and bears a striking resemblance to a younger Donald Sutherland.
We see Indian society as India sees it. My coworker, Sreeman, tells me that everyone attends neighborhood weddings; that an average wedding has 800900 guests, and his had 1200. Traditionalism matters, but modernity matters as well. At one point, Lalit and Dubey argue over the wedding tent; should it be white, the modern (Western) way, or should it be colorful? Lalit demands color and Dubey orders "the old kind." The struggle between modern and traditional ways is one of the primary undercurrents of the film, embodied by Additi's choice, in fact, we meet her married lover as the host of a TV talk show discussing traditional versus modern ways.
Another undercurrent is finding love, impediments to love, and choices about love. Additi, Dubey, Ria, and another cousin, Rahul, all have barriers to overcome before they have a chance at happiness.
But the main theme is family, and this huge, chaotic family is a wonder to behold. You can't always tell who's related to whom, but you get the sense that they can't either, and coming from a large, extended family myself, I know that's how it is. Family is everything to Lalit, yet he communicates harshly with a son he doesn't understand, and calls nephew Rahul "idiot." Yet his love and devotion are clear, and he is the real hero of this film, coming through for everyone and stretching himself to the limit.
If you're expecting an "exotic India" kind of movie, you'd be better off
seeing it. This is a contemporary film, and it's made with love. Acting is
terrific, and it becomes obvious that actors had so much synergy while
working on the movie. Only a very cynical person wouldn't be emotionally
touched by the story and the characters. A great film to see with your
significant other on a weekend. Warm fuzzy feelings all the
It's only March, but I already nominate "Monsoon Wedding" as one of the
best movies of the year.
Yeah, we've seen ethnic weddings/family gatherings before ("Lovers and Other Strangers," "Wedding Banquet," "The Godfather," "Avalon," "What's Cooking," "Tortilla Soup," among others), but this is still an original.
Not just because it takes place in India, not just because the characters come in from the Indian diaspora of IT jobs in the U.S., Australia, and the Middle East to the old homestead, and switch between Hindi and English mid-sentence, and switch comfortably between tradition and modernity.
But because these are completely wholly-formed, original characters and a sophisticated story. Yeah I was confused sometimes about who's related to whom, but from the rebellious teen-age boy dreaming of being a chef, to the bride with a secret lover, to the Houston engineer come home for an arranged marriage, to the complicated intra-family obligations and past positive and negative interactions, to cousins, aunts and uncles who genuinely love each other -- all are fully realized and completely believable, being both very individual and very universal.
Only a smidgen of a coincidence in the last moments of a too neat happy ending for a very sympathetic character mars the story, but understandably the audience cheers at the end.
A bonus is the wonderful use of Indian music -- I have zero idea if it's folk or Bollywood music they're singing but the soundtrack is exotic and exuberant as the characters use it to liberate thoughts and feelings within the structure of wedding rituals, with dancing as well. Stay through the credits as the ritual continues.
I'm ready to go see it again any time I'm feeling down.
(originally written 3/11/2002)
I really loved this movie. It was the first DVD I bought when I got a player. The story is rich and full of meaning, the actors are wonderful and the music is awesome. As another reviewer mentioned, I am trying to pass the word about this movie to everyone I can. PLEASE just don't compare it to My Big Fat Greek Wedding! That movie was cute and maybe more people could relate to it, but that is because it lacked any real substance. I didn't hate it, but it doesn't begin to touch Monsoon Wedding's issues: family, trust, abuse, love, grief, joy, tradition and oh so much more. When you are done seeing this movie, you want to see it again. And my first time I did just that. I watched it one evening and got up and watched it again the next day. Now, I consider this a really substantial movie, but I have to be petty for just one moment and say... hot Indian guys! I mean HOT! All right,I digress. This is the best movie I have seen in a LONG time.
I really liked this film. As the movie progressed I quickly formed a bond with the characters and felt they were all my close friends and I was somehow involved in the story. I truly got caught up in the emotion and the evolution of the story and frequently laughed and cried. Although the wedding was the climax of the film, it was not what the film is about. The colors were exquisite, the music and dancing delightful and the people gorgeous. The acting was superb. If there was anything negative to say, I did have some trouble understanding some of the dialogue because of the accents and fast talking. But I intend to see it several times more. Thanks for a great film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This weekend I rented 'Monsoon Wedding' from director Mira Nair. I had
heard good things about it, so I picked it up.
I had no idea what to expect, but between this and 'Bend It like Beckham', I think my new addiction might just be Indian cinema. 'Monsoon' is the story of a family celebrating the arranged marriage of their only daughter to a well-off (and hot) young man who has been working for the past few years in the States and came home so his parents could pick him a bride. The bride is trying to get over a recent indiscretion with a married-and famous-man by throwing herself into the marriage, though it seems pretty clear she would rather be anywhere else. The film gives a fascinating overall view of the amazing intricacies of a traditional Punjabi wedding-four days of festivities!!-while deftly presenting several dramatic and touching stories, from the obnoxious wedding planner falling for the maid, to the cousin who is trying to deal with having been abused as a child, only to end up facing her abuser at the wedding. The cinematography is gorgeous; a lot of handheld shots give a strong sense of realism, and what a color palette! Over the weekend I rented this I watched it three times, and I'm going to have to buy my own. Definitely an A picture.
I just finished watching this beautiful film for the third time. The first
time I saw it, I really liked it. The second time I got more out of it and I
liked it even more. I just finished watching it with the director's
commentary and I can honestly say I had no idea how good this film actually
was! It was shot entirely on location, in just 30 days on a very low budget
with a cast of 68 and only a handful of them were real actors! (A great deal
of actors who were originally cast in this movie pulled out at the last
minute or didn't even bother to show up) I guess that is the beauty of this
movie though. Nair wanted to capture the essence of the Punjabi people in a
true setting. She didn't want to go for the big elaborate sets where people
spontaneously break out into a big song and dance number like you see in a
lot of Bollywood movies. Nair wanted her characters to start singing because
that is what they do. One of her comments compared Indians to the Irish as
two cultures who love to use song. Throughout the whole movie, you get such
a feeling of reality as if you are a voyeur who is really looking into these
people's lives. They are lying naked and vulnerable before
The character of Alice really stood out for me. Tilotama Shome's talent
radiated from her and I found myself wondering what other films she had
done. In Nair's commentary, the answer was revealed: ZERO. Shome was an
English Literature student in Delhi University. The scene wear Alice is
pretending to be a bride (like a child playing dress up) is so simple yet so
powerful and beautiful. I have a few reviews stating that Tilotama was
miscast as the maid. That she was to "elegant" and self aware to play such a
character, however, that is exactly what Nair wanted in the character of
Alice. Nair wanted to make a statement about people. Our beauty and presence
comes from within our soul, not from our lot in life. Tilotama Shome can
have a brilliant career ahead of her if she wants it. It is also worthwile
to mention two more exceptionally powerful performances by Vijay Raaz (who
was a struggling actor before this movie) as Dubey (Alice's love interest)
and Shefali Shetty, as Ria (who has a dark secret that can ruin the binds of
family) These three performances were outstanding, but the entire cast was
This movie is definitely worth seeing, but I really have to recommend you
watch it like I did - more than once. It really is worth
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