Monsoon Wedding

When a character switches between Hindi and English mid-sentence, I tend to get a little scrambled. Monsoon Wedding centers on a very, very wealthy Indian family on the eve of the daughter’s wedding. Due to their elevated financial and educational status, the Verma family speaks English about 60% of the time. It gets tedious to not know whether you should scan the bottom of the screen awaiting subtitles, but I suppose this is how it really is in well-to-do India (hell, I’ve never been there.) 

Monsoon Wedding

Directed by Mira Nair

(Naseeruddin Shah, Lillete Dubey)

R

Just as in any posh American wedding, there are sordid secrets a-brewing in the family cauldron. The bride still longs for her last boyfriend. The son wants to be Cabaret dancer. And there’s something stirring with the niece. While all these are issues that one way or another work themselves out near the finale, Nair’s film is, most assuredly, a passive attempt. You’re so prepared for it, that when the shit does hit that proverbial Oscillating Holmes, it’s a mild zap rather than a “bomb” (copyright Thomas Vinterberg’s Celebration).

With the wedding, Nair shows you the result of when tradition runs smack into contemporary culture. Monsoon exhibits no traits of the national cinema of India. No long ragas, no acidic freak-out camera work, no central characters by the name of “Johnny” with superhuman abilities, and everything else that is Bollywood. It’s disappointing that those had to be abandoned to clear room for a more “Americanized” storyboard, fingers crossed it’ll land American monies.

Nair fires, reloads, and fires again an ridiculous amount of energy throughout this film, no doubt trying to cloud its shortcomings with dancing, more dancing, and thin romances. Discouraged dad Lalit (Naseeruddin Shah) and Vijay Raaz as a fantabulous wedding planner named P.K. Dubey who rivals, if not betters Martin Short’s character in Father of The Bride are acting talents who show up to play, but in the end Monsoon brings very little to gamble with, and therefore folds early.

-Sean McGrath