Mira Nair's much-hyped MONSOON WEDDING is targeted at a niche audience.
Set in an upper class family of North India, it tells the story of families arriving in Delhi to participate in the marriage celebrations. But the story splinters off to three sub-plots:-
Aditi (Vasundhara Das) is marrying Hemant (Parvin Dabas), an Indian living in the US. But she has a past ? a relationship with Vikram (Sameer Arya).
Vasundhara's cousin, Shefali Shetty, has a past as well. A past that wrecks family ties a day before the wedding is about to take place.
P.K. Dube (Vijay Raaz), an eccentric 'mandap' decorator, loses his heart to Alice, the maid? The celebrations have their share of heartbreaks and there are people falling in love.
Managing the ensemble cast and hand-held camera with elan, shifting the tone efficiently from light to serious sequences, director Mira Nair presents a human drama that unravels several truths.
What sets MONSOON WEDDING apart from films of this ilk (HUM AAPKE HAIN KOUN et al) is that the screenplay is straight out of life, tackling adult issues such as sex and incest.
The characters speak in a democratic mix of Hindi and English and that makes the goings-on motivating. The initial reels are just about okay, but the narrative gathers momentum when Vasundhara and her lover spend intimate moments before her marriage. The sequences thereafter, right till the last reel, keep the viewer's interest thriving thanks to a taut screenplay.
It is apparent that director Mira Nair has kept the elite/international market in mind while attempting the film. This is not one of those 'masala' films that have generous doses of commercial ingredients, aimed at the hoi polloi. However, the pre-climax portions involving Shefali Shetty, though brilliantly executed, are sure to shock an average Indian cinegoer.
Sabrina Dhawan's screenplay is vibrant and is laced with witty dialogue. Cinematography is colourful. The background music is appropriate.
The performances from the entire cast are of a high order. Naseeruddin Shah, Lillete Dubey, Vasundhara Das, Parvin Dabas and Vijay Raaz enact their parts with effortless ease. But it is Shefali Shetty who delivers a bravura performance.
On the whole, MONSOON WEDDING will win international acclaim and accolades from critics, but its adult theme will restrict its prospects to big cities in India. Business in the metros (mainly Mumbai) should prove to be the best.