An Affair To Remember

Mira Nair's exquisitely-detailed portrayal of an Indian wedding is tremendous fun...not to mention packing quite a few surprises!

Here is a wedding that fully warrants the trumpet call and twelve-man band, for the wedding coordinator has left not one detail to chance!

Director Mira Nair has, on this occasion, zeroed in on a territorial motif, an Indian Punjabi wedding, through the eyeglass of a universal audience, making this a film that can be enjoyed and embraced by any discerning public.

Grounded in New Delhi, in the home of the director itself, is a family in the throes of end-minute preparations for the wedding of the daughter of the house, Aditi Verma (Vasundhara Das). A veritable stage for a theatrical performance, the household continues through the driveway, the kitchens, the lawns, doing what they would normally do at a wealthy Punjabi wedding, racing to complete simple chores that assume the guise of gargantuan tasks as the magic day draws nearer. 

The occasion is a collage of erupting events and evolving emotions that bring every member of this extended family into the vortex of matrimonial mayhem. With rain clouds on the horizon, this is to be a monsoon wedding - so along with arrangements to have waterproof canopies in the reception arena, the weather accentuates the panoply of feelings: anger, anticipation, enthusiasm, and naturally, love.

An arranged marriage this, Aditi is to be betrothed to Hemant (Parvin Dabas), a computer engineer from Houston who is yet to know his fiancée on intimate terms. However, Aditi harbours amorous feelings for another man, and skulks off at every opportunity to meet him.  This while a couple of other courtships are taking root within the same premises: the maid Alice (Tilotama Shome) and P.K. Dubey (Vijay Raaz), the wedding contractor have a thing going; cousins of the bride, Ayesha (Neha Dubey) and Rahul (Randeep Hooda) romance each other; and those already engaged find occasion to relight the fires.

This is not a film that lets you rest a moment - itss vibrancy and drama holds you in its thrall. Sabrina Dhawan’s witty and emotive script puts the accent on every incident, while every actor has played his or her individual part to the letter. 

Amazingly, this is not an elaborately crafted plot, and there are no special effects or other trimmings that make box-office hits. This movie's all about telling it like it is, with magnified precision and stark clarity, with colours and music and home-grown personalities...and it manages to outdo some of the best in its field.

This article was first published on 28 Nov 2001.