So I watched this film at the end of August/beginning of September wrote it up and went off travelling for a bit. I was going through some files checking up on things when I found the write-up and realised that I’d completely forgotten to post it before I went. I even bought a book of Indian film criticism while I was away (Hindi Cinema: An Insider’s View by Anil Saari) and was highly disappointed to discover that I’d missed a short season of Indian cinema at my local cinema, all without twigging that I’d forgotten something.
I’m quite substantially behind on this project so I roped my mother into watching this one with me so I didn’t forget my original plan and watch something different. I’m glad I did as we both rather fell in love with the film.
Given that the last piece of Indian cinema I’d watched was Asoka, Monsoon Wedding came as a completely different kind of culture shock. Although it lacked the stylistic distinctiveness that I’ve come to associate with Indian cinema I felt as though I was actually learning something, gaining some sort of insight into modern Indian culture.
I should add at this point, it was going to be an aside in the last paragraph but grew into a paragraph all of its own, that I’ve come to understand that there are several different ‘Indian cinemas’, the dominant role that Bollywood has taken/been drawn in, for Western audiences unfortunately means that other than film-makers, such as Mira Nair, who work both outside and inside India it is quite hard to get hold of/become aware of these other cinemas. For example, there’s a book on Tamil cinema in the uni library, but while I can borrow a book on Hong Kong cinema and easily buy or borrow the films analysed, that wasn’t the case with the Tamil cinema – more like several frustrating hours on the internet to no avail. Which is doubly annoying as I would like to know positive things about Tamil culture, they are more than just the Tigers.
On a related note I think one of the best things about Monsoon Wedding is that the viewer gets to see an India that is diverse, that has many different cultures, people drop into different languages to talk to different people. Much like the portrayal of Kowloon in Chunking Express the city, in this case New Dehli, felt like a real place, somewhere you could visit, wander the streets and see what the characters had seen.
I must say that I found the romance between the wedding organiser (I suspect everyone knows an entrepreneurial chancer like him, wherever they come from) PK Dubey and housemaid Alice to be my favourite strand of the film. From the reviews I’ve read I know that a lot of people find them to be a sort of awkward comic relief that played on class and didn’t work for them, but for me there was a sort of tenderness and honesty to their courtship that surpassed all the complexities and complications of the main characters interactions. I’ve never liked the taste of Marigolds, but I really want to eat some after this.