Runaway Bridal Party

Director Mira Nair has said that she wanted "Monsoon Wedding" to capture "the intoxicating zest for life" of the Punjabi people. Constructed around an arranged wedding in Delhi, at which a far-flung Indian family gathers to celebrate the marriage of their daughter (Vasundhara Das) to an engineer (Parvin Dabas) living in Houston, Nair's buoyant movie makes that zest contagious.

The wedding is mounted in traditional Punjabi style, but underneath the formal fanfare simmer dysfunctional-family tensions, deep dark secrets, "upstairs downstairs" intrigues and illicit affairs. On the very eve of the nuptials, the bride drives off for a fling with her married lover. The wedding planner falls in love with the family servant, and the bride's bright, troubled cousin (Shefali Shetty) brings a painful family secret to the surface, forcing the patriarch (Naseerud-din Shah) to face a difficult choice between family honor and personal morality.

Nothing Nair has done before ("Salaam Bombay!," "Kama Sutra") prepares you for the loose, crowded, comic vitality of "Monsoon Wedding." Beautifully shot in handheld style by Declan Quinn, performed in three languages (English, Hindi and Punjabi), Nair's stereotype-shattering movie--like the polymorphous culture it illuminates--borrows from Bollywood, Hollywood and cinema verite, and comes up with something exuberantly its own.

Monsoon WeddingUSA Films
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