Film Review: Monsoon Wedding

by Celeste Heiter, Aug 26, 2004 | Destinations: India / Mumbai

It's monsoon season in New Delhi, but the storm that's coming couldn't possibly have been predicted by the weatherman. Aditi Verma, a beautiful young production assistant at a local television station, is secretly carrying on an affair with Vikram Mehta, a married talk show host. However, having recognized the futility of their relationship, Aditi has agreed upon an arranged marriage to Hemant Rai, a handsome young Indian man who now lives in Texas.

The setting for this auspicious occasion is the garden surrounding the palatial home of the bride's parents, Lalit and Pimmi Verma, where preparations are already underway; and P.K. Dubey, a wedding planner of dubious distinction, has been hired for the job. With a cell phone in one hand, and a bushel of marigolds in the other, he's all over the estate, negotiating details with the father of the bride, wheeling and dealing for supplies over the phone, all the while barking orders at his lackadaisical crew. Yet he still finds time to woo a lovely young housemaid named Alice.

Meanwhile, trouble is brewing inside the Vermi household, where relatives and guests are arriving from all over the world, not all of them welcome, and the family drama has begun to unfold. Lalit, the father of the bride, is having cash flow problems; his youngest son is showing effeminate tendencies; cousin Ria is looking daggers at her stepfather, who exhibits all the warning signs of a pedophile; and Aditi, the bride-to-be, is looking for any opportunity to slip away and call her married lover. Yet the show must go on.

In a dazzling kaleidoscope of color and culture, Monsoon Wedding, directed by Mira Nair, juxtaposes contemporary lifestyles with ancient rituals, and reconciles modern mores within the context traditional morality. English phrases are seamlessly integrated into Hindi dialogue; cell phones squawk amid the rhythmic chanting of wedding songs; the streets of New Delhi are choked with traffic as street vendors peddle fresh produce along the city sidewalks; and the everyday garb of western-style clothing is replaced for the wedding by silk saris and pink turbans. Yet the overriding theme of acceptance and forgiveness imbues the film with a heartfelt purpose, and by the time the credits roll, the monsoon rain has washed everything clean.

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Monsoon Wedding is available on DVD and VHS at

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