- Netflix's yet another iteration of the Indian wedding has all the frivolity without novelty.
Does a deceptive courtship lead to a genuine romance and possibly another wedding?! Being Indian, I am familiar with Indian weddings. I may not be knee-deep in them like my cousins in Atlanta, New Jersey, or Texas but I attend one or two from time to time.
Wedding celebrations are fun. But I attend particularly for the unexpected spectacle on and behind the scene. I have had my share of drama at my own wedding, so I know what to expect.
Since time immemorial almost every Indian movie has a wedding in it. Weddings are popular. They drive the wedding industry and vice versa. Lately, Netflix seems to be running with the idea, like a “kite runner.”
I was exhausted watching “The Big Day” so I needed a nudge or two to watch the “Wedding Season.” Once again the screenplay is about “happily married” Indian parents trying to coerce their American Born Confused Desis (ABCD) to tie the knot with the most “suitable boy or girl.”
The film is cliched because, in reality, the Indian parents have somewhat come to terms with the fact that their “American children are capable enough to pick their own mate.” They are not confused and so in the real sense, we are seeing more and more interracial marriages. The girls are focussing on their careers, getting married later, and that too, to the grooms of their own choice.
But the wedding industry is thriving regardless. The kids plan their own weddings. Not in temples and community centers but in Vineyards and beachfronts. In Bali, Bora Bora and Barbados.
“Wedding season” has a rehashed plot. The family lives in New Jersey and is acquainted with a large Indian diaspora. ‘Tis the season. Wedding invitations keep piling up. The middle-class Indian couple (Veena Sood and Rizwan Manji) with two marriageable daughters is on tenterhooks to get their daughters married.
Too worried, the mother surreptitiously posts her daughter’s “biodata” online and sets her up with a date with a “suitable boy.” Asha (Pallavi Sharda) is livid by this trickery but agrees to meet the boy once and thwart her mother’s ploy.
Asha is a career woman/brilliant economist, completely engaged in securing a grant from a company in Singapore. She is aesthetically appealing and well suited to her role. But more than her I love Ravi (Suraj Sharma of “Life of Pi”) with an impressive “biodata,’’ ie. childhood Spelling Bee champ, attended MIT at 16, works for a startup.
His online profile has also been orchestrated by his parents (Manoj Sood and Sonia Dhillon Tully), who own a failing Indian restaurant. Ravi has that “disarming boy next door vibe and a gentle expression in his eyes,” He certainly has the potential to go places.
The young couple doesn’t hit it off in the first “arranged” meeting but they meet again at a wedding under the scrutiny of “Indian Aunties.” Asha and Ravi agree to pretend to date for upcoming weddings to keep the parents’ scheming temporarily at bay. They dance and mingle in beautiful costumes for 14 weddings (courtesy of costume designer, Courtney Mitchell).
Somewhere along the way they get to know each other and feel comfortable as a couple. But before they can fall in love…Asha secures a job in London by giving a speech about her dadji’s fishing boat and her innate ability to configure 12.5% tips in her head.” This puts a damper on their relationship and thrusts the narrative into a climactic showdown. And it all happens at the wedding. That drama was fun to watch.
Directed by Tom Dey (“Failure to Launch”) and written by Shiwani Srivastava, Netflix’s “Wedding Season” aspires to be Meera Nair’s “A Suitable Boy “but falls short because of lazy writing and lack of imagination.
I wish they would have handled the American groom Nick (Sean Keiser) with more discernment. Was it not enough to show that he loves the “doctor” daughter Priya (Arianna Afsar)? Was it necessary to make him roll his r’s in biryani and concoct the most horrendous cocktails? But for him to arrive on a tuk-tuk dressed in a “Dumbo” costume was downright embarrassing. But I am sure the global/American audience would lap it up.
“Wedding Season” is not for deep thinkers or critics. It’s easy and enjoyable to watch once. It has all the frivolity without novelty. It’s just like a fizzy pop or a tiny sparkler. It’s fun to hold it in your hand once.
With one foot in Huntsville, Alabama, the other in her birth home India and a heart steeped in humanity, writing is a contemplative practice for Monita Soni. She has published hundreds of poems, movie reviews, book critiques, and essays and contributed to combined literary works. Her two books are My Light Reflections and Flow through My Heart. You can hear her commentaries on Sundial Writers Corner WLRH 89.3FM and the Princess Theater.