Impressions of a Bollywood film
If you have not seen Veere di Wedding, and wish to, please do not read this. I myself watched the film first, and then skimmed over a few of the reviews, all of which focused on the usual points of critique: plot, themes, acting, dialogues, mise en scène, fashion, cultural context and err...correctness.
As a friend of mine noted, each reading or viewing of a text or a visual medium is a subjective experience, therefore each and every review is valid, in my opinion.
There are references to the movie as illustrating or engendering the empowerment and equality of women, and maybe from a certain perspective it does. For me personally the enfranchisement is firstly that a woman dominated production has collected 100 crore rupees in global box office sales, and secondly, that the remuneration for two of the female members of the cast was in the crores. Whoohoo!
How would I describe the film? Firstly, as one containing elements of the female members of the various Bollywood Kapoor clans. Secondly, as a highly entertaining movie.
Is the film worthy of a chinta? Yes, most definitely. There is a section of our society that continuously marinates itself in Bollywood sauces; the industry inspires the manner in which people speak, behave, dress, entertain, marry, decorate their homes, travel, and much more.
Even some who wish to shake off all deshi features and be perceived as “smart” or “modern”, never seem to go beyond the Bollywood interpretations of “Western” culture: a curious assemblage of colonialism, perceived Anglo, American, and European cultural norms, interspersed with detachment from reality.
I predict, given the media hype and penchant for Bollywood, that many will watch this film, if they have not already, and I would like to discuss some of the flavours of the Veere di Wedding marinade that I hope the viewers will imbibe.
Humour: We have a very uneasy relationship with humour in our society, especially when it comes to women. Funny women are astaa pagols, or crazy. Why? Because to be not crazy one has to demonstrate either virtuous continuous suffering, or staid conformism,or lofty ideals that imply high intelligence,or perfection in wifely and motherly duties, or all four. We conflate humour with irreverence and irresponsibility, when in fact it is simply a perspective. It was refreshing to watch the Veeres reflect on themselves and their situations through comical and witty dialogues, and I do hope people realise that laughter can be the best medicine.
Loyalty & Individuality: No matter what happened, the Veeres stood by each other. There was no running to make other friends at the first sign of conflict. There was no carrying tales about friends to other people. There was no telling the parents – look, look I do not do all the awful things my friends have done, therefore I am much better than them. There was no disavowal – I am soooooooo glad I do not have your problems. There was no competition – I have to have a bigger wedding than you did. There was no greed– I must have what you have. Rather, it was good old - fashioned friendship: offering support, caring enough to speak the truth, voicing the insecurities, admitting to the foibles, and plenty of love and affection through thick and thin, sick and sin.
Men loving and accepting Strong Women: This was the most beautiful message in the movie and the most pertinent, well, that is what I thought. I see many females around me pressured to act simple or sweet, or who feel the need to be shy and coy because they must exhibit malleability for greater marriage market prospects. Further, if married women have any strengths, they must always be subsumed under that of their husbands. It was therefore a relief to see that a critical visual medium such as a Bollywood blockbuster, illustrating that modern (and wealthy) men like strong women, that they prefer independent ones to the nagging clingy types, and that they are happy to takea back seat if their girlfriends or wives are more capable. Yes! About time, and thank you Veeres.
Aunty Comeuppance: Last but not least, my favourite bit in the movie, a Veere confrontation with the dreadful Aunties. We are brought up to respect the murubbis, and to always be polite and courteous towards them. However, not all murubbis are equal, some are a tad bit more nasty and divisive than the others, and some take it upon themselves to cut out a pound of your flesh, add some stale mirch masala, overcook, and shove it down your throat in a social arena, and then revel afterwards in their “scoring”. Eeww. It was gratifying to watch a scene where a flawed broken young girl comes to terms with her life, and then finds the courage to give the relentlessly nasty prattling Aunties a piece of her mind, and in the process reveals what their own,far from perfect children, have been up to. Shabash!
Veere Two in the offing methinks!
Chintamoni grew up in Dhaka, where she will always belong, but never quite fit in. She is an enthusiastic traveller, a compulsive procrastinator, and a contumelious raconteur.