This is another one that I had inexplicably heard of growing up, but never seen until now. Monsoon Wedding, a film by Mira Nair, was an unexpected hit, winning the Golden Lion at Venice, and garnering a Golden Globe nomination. Not bad for a film that the screenwriter, Sabrina Dhawan, knocked out in a week for her MFA film program. It shows poignancy, dramatics, and above all, the spirit of love. Most of the time, arranged marriages are a plot device used to stand in the way of true love, but here, for once, it is used as a path to love; a refreshing change of pace, and a welcome one.
The film details the meeting of two Indian families as the arranged marriage between two of the younger members comes to fruition, and the evolving and shifting relations (and relationships) between the various characters that attend the wedding. Needless to say, the central couple are not the only couple to be found here, and the abundance of romantic angles made the film ever interesting. The way the film carried on, it seemed like an Indian version of Festen. Everyone talked over one another, everyone was one big family, and old demons reared their ugly heads once again, changing the face of the family. The longer Monsoon Wedding went on, the more the comparison to Festen increased; the two are really spiritual siblings, and thus if you liked the first, you’ll likely enjoy this one for the same reasons. The dance number about two-thirds through the film was a big highlight; well edited, and a great feel-good moment for pretty much everybody involved, save a few, but I won’t delve into spoiler territory.
I can see how this made the initial list, and I can see how this was removed from later editions. It’s colorful and festive, in more than one way, and the eclectic action will keep most people interested through the running time. Still, it’s just too similar to Festen to warrant taking up another spot on the list, and while this hasn’t stopped other films from doing this very thing before, again, I can see how they decided to remove this. That being said, don’t hold it against the film, especially if you’ve seen Festen; this will be like a plentiful second helping, albeit with a slightly different flavor. This was pretty enjoyable, though heads up; the characters switch languages a lot, even in the middle of sentences and back again, so make sure your version has capable subtitling. Other than that, this should be an easy watch for a nice, big chunk of the moviegoing audience.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10