Today we watched Monsoon Wedding, Mira Nair’s 2001 film about two families coming together for the arranged marriage of their children in Delhi. In an art direction extra feature on the Criterion DVD, the team discussed how they managed to make the film in a month at close to 100 locations and for less than a million dollars. Quite an achievement in modern film-making, and it is equally impressive that the entire film was shot on Digital Video – and it appears that it is one of the first features to do this. In the Schneider book, the author of the short essay notes that it is “emotionally satisfying, in part due to its relatively uncluttered narrative and universal subject matter.” Furthermore, the “flitting from English to Hindi to Punjabi …shows the irrelevance of language and background when it comes to something as familiar as the mysteries and foibles of romance.”
I really enjoyed this film. I thought that the colors, the selective use of cultural contrasts in a modern globalized world, and the cool handheld camerawork lent a great deal to this film. The beautiful images of regular life that end up being filtered in to separate the scenes, as well as the bouncing between the various languages, styles, and traditions brought an authenticity to the film that was really engaging to my sensibilities. The most notable parts of the film that I will carry with me are the amazing title and credits sequences, the slow motion introductions of Alice and Parabatlal, the beautiful music for the entire film, the scene in the empty pool with the beautiful lighting and execution overall, and the absolute seemingly-unrehearsed folk joy in every scene where the cast is singing or dancing.
My only complaint is that I thought the plot with the uncle, which carried ~act 3-4 of the film was a little clunky, and that made it feel contrived to me. It is genuine, but there is something abut the execution that didn’t entirely fit for me.
This story was told in a way that I found very visually appealing. The colors, sounds, and the movements throughout the day to day lives of the characters seems natural and vibrant. I found the montages of daily life around the city and in the country eye-opening and appealing. I had less difficulty understanding the “uncle” subplot, I feel that was foreshadowed from one of the earliest scenes but regardless, a great mix of angst and humor.