Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Love: Exactly and Approximately

MONSOON WEDDING
This story of a large, Westernized, upper middle class Indian family gathering for a wedding is one that I watched several years ago. Somehow it didn't hit me then the way it did last weekend when I absolutely fell in love with it.

Aditi decides that her married boyfriend may never leave his wife so she agrees to an arranged marriage. The groom has been in Houston for four years and is flying back to India for the wedding. Aditi's father is struggling with stress as the wedding costs mount. As various families are added to the assemblage, we see the single cousins who are attracted to each other, the unmarried female cousin who has an old secret, the wedding event planner who falls desperately in love, and many other colorful characters. We also are given many glimpses of India itself as scene dividers. The scenes are so evocative of what I imagine the real place to be that it made me yearn to visit India and see all the seeming contradictions for myself.

It is rare to see a movie that is so charming and yet shows us so well many faces of love. We see the deep love of a father for his daughters, the respect and brotherly love of a man for his long-time family friend, the burgeoning love of two different couples from very different social backgrounds, and the dawning of love that comes for the wedding couple who are in an arranged marriage. We also are shown quite clearly the consequences of mistaking much baser emotions for true love. When that trust and faith is betrayed "everything is broken." However, we also are shown the power of forgiveness and the fruit it can bear.

It is not Bollywood. For one thing, there is kissing and that is a no-no for a Bollywood movie. For another, although there is singing it is all normal for the context of activities, mostly someone singing a line or two of a familiar song that others would pick up and sing along (if they were a song-singing family). The "R" rating is for the language, mostly that of the Wedding Event Coordinator and his help.

This movie seems much more real than the recently popular Bride and Prejudice and certainly much less Westernized. I was charmed with the seemingly random mixture of English and Hindi (?) which everyone spoke. The English was difficult to understand before we became accustomed to the rhythm and pronunciation so you must listen carefully because when English is spoken there is no captioning. However, it does not take long for your ears to adjust and this is not a problem for too long.

HC Rating: **** 9 thumbs up

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