Monsoon Wedding is a 2001 film directed by acclaimed Indian-American filmmaker Mira Nair, shot with cooperation from both Bollywood and Hollywood. A critical and financial success, it won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and has since been reissued as part of The Criterion Collection.
On the surface, it's a chronicle of the Arranged Marriage of Aditi Verma and her fiancé Hemant Rai in New Delhi, with Aditi's harried father Lalit trying to put together a lavish wedding. But it also features a number of subplots about love, romance, and family. Secrets and lies are exposed for good or for ill. At its heart though, this film is about family.
This film provides examples of the following:
- Beta Couple: The romance between the event planner Dubey and the maid Alice progresses faster than the one between the husband and wife despite the fact that those two are the ones actually getting married.
- Costume Porn: The saris worn during the wedding ceremonies are gorgeous.
- Credits Gag: Near the end, there's a credit that reads, "We are like that only 40 locations in 30 days, exactly and approximately" (see Immediate Self-Contradiction below).
- Creepy Uncle: One of the subplots involves an uncle who abused the bride's cousin Ria as a child and now she's worried that he's doing the same thing to an even younger cousin, Aliya.
- Dark Secret:
- Lalit's wife Pimmi smokes in the bathroom, and then flushes it down the toilet and sprays air freshener so that no one knows. Lalit catches on though.
- Lalit's brother-in-law Tej has a history of sexually abusing his nieces. Complicated by the fact that he's extremely rich and bailed Lalit out after The Partition of India left that part of the family destitute. Now Tej is offering to pay for Ria to go to school in America, and no one can understand why she isn't all excited at the prospect.
- Dramedy: It very deftly balances comedy and drama. It starts out lighthearted, but the later acts introduce some darker elements, like Aditi and Hemant arguing, Lalit clashing with Varun, and the revelations about Tej, Ria and Aliya. Dubey is the film's most comedic character, but his arc ends up taking him into straight romance territory.
- Family Disunion: The whole family has come from all over the globe and in doing so, friction develops, especially as Creepy Uncle Tej is reunited with Ria, the niece he sexually abused as a child, and the fallout when it all comes out.
- Foregone Conclusion: Yes, the wedding ends up happening during a monsoon.
- Gratuitous English: This being India, everyone freely switches between Hindi and English, sometimes in the same sentence.
- Hidden Depths: P.K. Dubey, the wedding planner, at first comes off as a barely-competent, foul-mouthed jerk, but we eventually see he has a sensitive side, brought out by his romance with Alice.
- Immediate Self-Contradiction: Dubey saying that things will be done "in 10 minutes, exactly and approximately."
- Like Father, Unlike Son: Lalit is very masculine, while his young son Varun doesn't care for sports, watches cooking shows (and nurses ambitions of becoming a chef), and shows an interest in dance, which leads to a blow-up between them.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: There are 68 speaking roles in the film, and at least a dozen of them could be considered main characters. Some of them actually get more screen time than the bride and groom.
- Meet Cute: Dubey and Alice, first when she drops the tea glasses, later when she offers him water and they gently reveal their good names.
- My Beloved Smother: One scene reveals that Dubey lives with his mother, who nags him about not being married as soon he walks in the house.
- Perfectly Arranged Marriage: The film starts with the arranged couple feeling very awkward in each other's company, and there's some complications with her old flame, but by the end the two of them are taking quite a liking to each other.
- The Reveal:
- Aditi has been having an affair with a married man. She finally tells her groom-to-be before the wedding and he thanks her for her honesty. This reveal is part of what triggers them to open up and fall in love.
- Ria's uncle sexually abused her as a young girl; now he's moving on to her younger cousin Aliya, who confirms in a casual conversation that he's been French kissing her. When Ria finally confronts him in front of his brother it triggers drama, resulting ultimately in Lalit banning his brother-in-law from his house to protect his family, even though it means Lalit's sister, who's married to Tej, is also banned.
- Sad Bollywood Wedding: Inverted, as all the drama happens before the wedding, so the wedding itself is happy, since it gives everyone a chance to focus on something else after all the explosive moments leading up to it.
- Scenery Porn: The entire film is colourful and filled with beautiful shots of wedding decorations and flowers, and the scenery of India. The outside of the house is verdant with strings of marigolds.
- Shout-Out: To Bollywood romantic comedy situations, on the part of Dubey and Alice, particularly when she drops the glasses near him and he subsequently grows thoughtful and eats a marigold. Listen to the music.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: Dubey is especially fond of yelling out "motherfucker" to his co-workers and to no one in particular.
- Sleeping Single: The father Lalit and his wife start the film like this, but eventually they wind up curled up together in one of the twin beds just holding one another.
- Triang Relations: Aditi had an affair with a television producer she worked with, but his refusal to leave his wife has caused her to accept an arranged marriage instead.