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DVD Pick:

"Monsoon Wedding"
Reviewed by Ivana Redwine

Guide Rating -  

Tagline: "The Rain is coming ... and so is the Family."

Length: 114 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for language, including some sex related dialogue.

Directed by Mira Nair ("Salaam Bombay!," "Mississippi Masala," "Kama Sutra"), "Monsoon Wedding" is an ensemble family comedy that is a joyous celebration of life. The characters speak mostly English, but they also speak Hindi a lot, and some characters occasionally speak Punjabi. When I watched this movie on DVD recently, I found it to be enchanting.

"Monsoon Wedding" is set in contemporary Delhi during the summer rainy season. The film centers around the wedding of the only daughter of Lalit and Pimmi Verma, an upper-middle-class Punjabi family. But even as the guests assemble—some coming from far away—unresolved issues remain.

Aditi, the bride-to-be, is having a love affair with her married boss, the host of a television talk show called "Delhi.com." But his reluctance to get a divorce is one of the reasons she has agreed to an arranged marriage to a handsome computer engineer who lives in Houston, Texas. A somewhat spoiled child of privilege, Aditi is conflicted as her wedding day approaches, but eventually she takes a risk that few would have the courage to take.

Lalit, the father of the bride, is a successful businessman, but he's having trouble paying for the lavish wedding. Yet he doesn't back away from his demand for a waterproof, multicolored wedding tent, even though it costs him thousands of dollars extra. Later, after Lalit learns of the unacceptable behavior of a highly respected family member, he shows his inner strength by taking strong action on the day of his daughter's wedding.

P.K. Dubey, a goofy-looking young man often seen talking on a cell phone, has been contracted by Lalit to serve as wedding coordinator. While trying to get everything ready for the big event, Dubey becomes smitten with Alice, the pretty Verma family maid, but most of his attempts to impress her end in fiasco. But ultimately Dubey gets the film's most romantic moment: he kneels before Alice while holding a bunch of marigolds he has woven into the shape of a heart.

I found "Monsoon Wedding" to be a feast for the eyes with its dazzling color palette that uses lots of oranges and reds. Also, I liked the Indian music used in the film; it very nicely complements the visual style and subject matter. The large cast was mostly unfamiliar to me, but all of the actors seemed at least adequate, and I particularly liked the performances of Naseeruddin Shah as Lalit Verma, the father of the bride, and Vijay Raaz as P.K. Dubey, the wedding coordinator.

Many parts of "Monsoon Wedding" brought a smile to my face, but it's not laugh-out-loud funny. It's a rather subtle film that doesn't offer much in the way of plot, and there are so many characters that none are fully developed. Yet I found myself completely swept away by the Verma family's zest for life.

The "Monsoon Wedding" DVD provides only a couple of special features. There's an eight-minute making-of featurette, which allowed me to see what producer-director Mira Nair looks like and hear her talk a little about her film. There's also a feature-length audio track where Nair gives an informative running commentary on her delightful movie.

Selected Special Features on the DVD:

  • Feature Commentary by Director Mira Nair
  • The Making of "Monsoon Wedding"
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Widescreen (1.85:1)
  • English Dolby Digital 5.1
  • English DTS 5.1
  • English Captions for the Hearing Impaired
  • Spanish Subtitles
  • French Subtitles

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