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MONSOON WEDDING

SYNOPSIS:
Lalit Verma (Naseeruddin Shah) and his wife Pimmi (Lillette Dubey) are preparing for the arranged marriage of their daughter Aditi (Vasundhara Sas) to Hemant (Parvin Dabas), an engineer from Texas. As all the members of the family including her unmarried cousin Ria (Shefali Shetty) gather from all over the world, Aditi gets pre-wedding jitters and visits her former lover. In the meantime, wheeler dealer wedding organiser P.K. Dubey (Vijay Raaz) is falling in love with the family maid Alice (Tolotama Shome), who both share the habit of eating the core of the marigolds, the Indian wedding flower.

Review by Louise Keller:
As a young child living in Kanpur, I remember very clearly the first time I saw an Indian wedding. The vivid colours, the garlands of flowers, the ornate silken saris and a vibrant energy rocketed through the steamy tropical air. Seriously elaborate, it was unlike anything I had ever seen. I can still taste the sweet, gaudy Indian sweets about which I quickly became very serious. Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding captures all this exuberance in a joyous celebration of life, love, culture, tradition and family. Shot on digital video, the intersection of tradition and modern day life is beautifully realised Ė from the formalities of the arranged marriage to the high-tech pulse of today. The forthcoming wedding is Nair's platform, from which five interwoven stories emerge. It's a bewitching taste of Indian life and we get a great sense of the importance of family; relatives from around the world Ė even Australia - gather to share in the events. The beguiling mix of English with some Hindi (subtitled) takes us right into this culture, and we feel as though we are part of the family. Beautifully realised is the description of the way of life (the story is secondary to the characters); we get a real sense of the people, the relationships and all those little things that happen every day, to which we can relate. Acclaimed Indian actor Naseeruddin Shah is compelling as the story's central pivot; we share his fatherly and financial concerns and understand his emotional dilemma. The entire cast is excellent: Vasundhara Das, mesmerising as the uncertain bride to be and Shefali Shetty, poignant as troubled Ria. In his first international role, Vijay Raaz is stands out as PK Dubey, the wedding planner/organiser who eats the orange marigolds decorations as he supervises the proceedings. His developing relationship with the family maid Alice (Tolotama Shome, charming) surprisingly becomes the film's emotional high. How could we ever forget Dubey's offering of a heart made of marigolds? Dubey and Alice may lack the glamour, wealth and class of the couple to be married, but there's a poignancy in the simplicity of their emotions. The 114 minute running time would benefit from a few nips and tucks, but the laughter is infectious and we can't help but get swept away by this delightful interlude. Even the monsoon can't put a damper on this rich kaleidoscope of Indian life; smell, taste and enjoy!

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Monsoon Wedding has such a tangible, credible, multi-dimensional set of characters that you feel as though it doesnít matter what they do, you want to watch them do it. The script is brought to irrepressible life by a great cast in a film that defies simple categorisation. It is like life itself, a crazy and tumultuous contradiction of pain and joy. Itís about love in unlikely places, with unlikely people. These are the elements that give the film a really universal language of communication Ė not to mention the entirely successful mix of English and Hindi, flowing naturally from character and circumstance. The film pushes many buttons on the emotional panel, from intense drama to intense joy, from lust to love and from family to intense privacy. Itís a shame that many people will avoid the film in favour of the staple movie diet, imagining it to be some sort of arty farty film; but itís their loss.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

MONSOON WEDDING (M)
(US)

CAST: Naseeruddin Shah, Lillete Dubey, Shefali Shetty, Vijay Raaz, Tilotama Shome, Vasundhara Das, Parvin Dabas, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Kamini Khanna, Rajat Kapoor

PRODUCER: Caroline Baron, Mira Nair

DIRECTOR: Mira Nair

SCRIPT: Sabrina Dhawan

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Declan Quinn

EDITOR: Allyson C. Johnson

MUSIC: Michael Danna

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Stephanie Carroll

RUNNING TIME: 114 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: New Vision

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 26, 2001 (Advance screenings Dec 14, 2001)

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: AV Channel

VIDEO RELEASE: September 10, 2002 [Also on DVD]







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