Paromita Vohra: Wedding of the year

Jun 10, 2018, 06:14 IST | Paromita Vohra

Though full of different desires, the central characters are tentative about expressing some of them, uncertain of acceptance

Paromita Vohra: Wedding of the year
Illustration/ Ravi Jadhav

Paromita VohraThe best thing about Veere di Wedding is how tenderly it regards human desire. Though full of different desires, the central characters are tentative about expressing some of them, uncertain of acceptance. Some of this is because of their personal histories. Some, because they are women. This combination of reasons is what makes Veere di Wedding, despite its flaws, fundamentally humane and effortlessly feminist.

Here is a film that says something quite rare — making a mistake is not a big deal. It is, in fact, life itself and how each of us learns how we want to craft our journeys. That’s how the film begins, but also, scrupulously ends: with a voice-over that assures us, that despite this current closure, the characters will make more mistakes, have fresh learnings (sure, this may be a clever sequel alert, but it also happens to be an important declaration).

In public conversation or art, women’s choices are routinely framed as high drama, representative of social conflict. Should she wear a burqua, marry for love, is her feminism woke enough. It’s cathartic when a film does not discuss right and wrong choices but casually affirms that choice, framed as desire, icchha, khwaish is not just a right, but a human tendency.

This deftly lets women out of that constricting narrative binary of victims and heroes, upholders of tradition or trailblazers — and allows them to be flawed people, not cut outs of political correctness. But, this is also a favour the film does to every character. There is no hierarchy of desires, no heroes or villains along valid or invalid desires. The desire of a widower to remarry, of a woman to have endless romance or a sex-toy assisted orgasm, a family to hold a ridiculous and expensive wedding, of a young woman for her estranged father’s love and the bungalow of her childhood — none of these are privileged or judged. They are also resolved in multiple ways – through acceptance, through agreeing to disagree, through overcoming ego or just cheerful denial. The film acknowledges how the social identity of being a woman creates unique experiences, limitations and desires, but also locates these within the overall frame of human desire. That’s storytelling solidarity, not virtue-signalling pomposity.

Films which feature women are often subject to beady eyed political report card style appraisals, which have little to do with how films really influence people. I use a simple rule: does the film fill me with a sense of fear and defeat? Or does it release a feeling of possibility? Veere Di Wedding is definitely the latter.

That’s why it’s indifferent production is so deflating. Lacklustre styling (no super-cool clothes! Why yaar?), flat shot taking (there is precisely one shot in the film I found cinematic, of Manoj Pahwa behind bars) create an overall looseness. Despite wonderful performances (I loved everyone) and affectionately etched characters, the wannabe Sex and the City stuff is embarrassing, the script scattershot, with few fleshed out scenes, unlike Shashanka Ghosh’s first film Waisa Bhi Hota Hai — II. For this reason the film does not saturate viewers with feeling, with that full-blooded pleasure of juicy, loving detailing that makes something iconic. Well we will await that revolution. Despite its sometimes careless hand, this film has a large heart and that, in these emotionally stingy times, is a big budget of its own.

Paromita Vohra is an award-winning Mumbai-based filmmaker, writer, and curator working with fiction and non-fiction. Reach her at www.parodevipictures.com

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