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Sad Bollywood Wedding

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It's kind of like that.

"Eyes down, look sad. Don't smile! Indian bride never smiles. You'll ruin the bloody video!"
Cameraman at Pinky's wedding, Bend It Like Beckham

Are you marrying someone you do not love? Did your whole family just die? Is the best man planning to kill himself at the reception? And perhaps more importantly: is someone singing about it? If the answer's yes, congratulations on your Sad Bollywood Wedding!

Your family and friends will help you walk to the altar if you're sobbing too hard to walk. The camera will lovingly linger on your tears and possibly those of the one true love you'll never get to see again because your parents disapprove — but hey, maybe you'll sing a last song together and all the guests will join in to tell us how dangerous it is to fall in love... And why your groom doesn't take off is anybody's guess.

A staple of Indian romance movies, the Sad Bollywood Wedding is what happens when marriage and melodrama collide to make people who watch the movie cry so hard they can't see the screen anymore. Depending on the movie, the reason why the wedding is sad changes but you can expect amazing saris, tears, drama — and maybe a last-minute twist.

Truth in Television. Even without the Bollywood or some sort of lost love undertone, some traditional Indian marriage ceremonies are based on the idea that the bride leaves her family forever to live with her husband and his family (who are supposed to be total strangers to her). This often involves a lot of crying and even mourning on the part of the bride and her family. And in the old days, it was like this! People would come from another village, and it wasn't like mom and dad had a car to go visit the daughter. If you were poor, you might see your daughter when she has kids and that's it. In some more traditional families, the bride's parents won't even eat or drink water from the daughter's new home.


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    Films — Live-Action 
  • Kal Ho Naa Ho: The bride cries all the way to the altar because she's in love with the dying best man. They get to have a last duet about how much they love each other but have to let go.
  • Kuch Kuch Hota Hai: The bride is in love with another man who accidentally ends up coming to her house on her wedding day. She cries and the groom drags her to the altar or so we think! He knows she's not in love with him and tells her to marry the other guy. HAPPY TIMES ALL AROUND.
  • Kabhi Kushi Kabhie Gham: Anjali and Rahul get married right after her father's death and she cries at the altar.
  • Veer-Zaara: When Zaara accepts to marry a man she does not love, her true love Veer accepts to be thrown in prison to protect her honor. Extract from the background song: "Why is love a crime?"
  • Devdas: Paro's wedding, complete with song and unhappy mother.
  • Dosti Friends Forever has two!
    • The first is Anjali's wedding. She cries, Raj looks crushed and at the end of the scene, Karan falls to his knees and cries. The chorus of the background song? "Never fall in love/ Never fall in love/ Never fall in love."
    • The second is Karan's wedding, because Raj insists on literally dancing himself to death at the ceremony.
  • Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi: The movie starts with Taani's sad wedding: she's supposed to marry a man she loves but he dies in a traffic accident. Her dying father asks her to marry Surinder because he doesn't want her to be alone.
  • Love Aaj Kal: It seems alright at first but Meera can't keep her eyes off her former lover Jai during her wedding with Vikram. When they finally talk, Jai can't deal with the fact that she's married and leaves. She has to go back to the ceremony knowing she made a mistake.
  • Invoked in Bend It Like Beckham when the cameraman at Pinky's wedding chides her for looking too happy. Her marriage to Teetu is a love match and was nearly blocked by a Parental Marriage Veto.
  • Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein: Reena's wedding, until Rajiv decides that marrying a woman who doesn't love him, despite the fact that he has every right to, probably isn't the best idea and calls it off. Lucky, lucky Maddy!
  • Veer-Zaara: Zaara's wedding to Raza, which she agrees to primarily prevent a potentially fatal shock to her father after her embracing Veer at her engagement renders Jahangir bedridden. The garlands in front of her face are even framed similar to prison bars, which is more significant given that Veer is, at the same time, being forced to falsely confess to being an Indian spy by the crooked cops on Raza's payroll.

  • Referenced in Life Isn't All Ha Ha Hee Hee by Meera Syal. Chila, who marries at the beginning of the novel, wonders whether she should have got a friend to slap her or tell a tragic story just before the ceremony so she would look miserable (as she's known other women to do.) It's stated this is very important because the video will be circulated to all the bride's relatives worldwide, who may never meet her but will judge her by the film and take a very negative view of smiling.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Kala in Sense8 goes through one of the "marrying a man she does not love" variety in the fifth episode. Before she can say the binding vows, a fully naked Wolfgang appears in front of her (while he's invisible to everyone else). She ends up fainting and the wedding gets postponed.
  • 9-1-1 has a variant — while the marriage is indeed arranged and the bride and groom are only just meeting each other, the two take it in relative stride and seem hopeful for the future. Things only become sad when the floor abruptly collapses and dozens of guests, including the bride, need to be rescued by the 118.