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Wedding dressed

Updated on: 23 June,2024 08:27 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Paromita Vohra |

If it were not for the dresses, would women be tempted into matrimony one wonders

Wedding dressed

Illustration/Uday Mohite

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Wedding dressed

Paromita VohraPeople might be confused about the number of pre-pre-pre, pre-pre and pre Ambani wedding events but not me (maybe because I’m not invited).  Recently, the media intimated us of a dress Radhika to-be-Ambani wore on her Mediterranean cruise, whose fabric was imprinted with her fiancée’s love letter. Well, weddings are so much about the dress.

If we have learned anything from Bridgerton S3, it’s that marriage is a bit of an un make-over. In S2, Anthony and Kate steamed up the screen with I-hate-you-like-I-love-you passion and romance. They were edgy, sexy and fun. In S3, when they appear, the show became Hum Aap Ke Hain Bridgerton. Kate worrying about devarji’s favourite biscuits. Kate, eyes brimming with saccharine, giving struggling lovers sententious advice about settling down. Anthony acting like a clueless husband. They seem to have escaped from a WhatsApp group titled Wifeys and Hubbies. And then Kate’s dresses. One of them legit looks like it was stolen from Pankaj Udhas, shawl and all.

Penelope, once tart as the lemony dresses she wore, loses all spice once marriage to Colin, England’s answer to Alamzeb, becomes a prospect. In a vintage Bhabhi move, she even declares she will use her column, Lady Whisteldown for good. Why? What did we do to deserve this? But she does get some beautiful dresses, smouldering with languorous lights, glinting and hinting, like dragonfly wings in the sun. If it were not for the dresses, would women be tempted into matrimony one wonders.

Many content creators use the Balaji style soap as the basis for parody. This seems lazy, or easy—after all Balaji soaps come pre-loaded with camp. What can one add? But sometimes it seems it is just an excuse to wear the clothes-the zardozi, the chuda, the sindoor. People also have begun to create content during actual weddings. It’s like costume hai, toh let me get one last high-production value hurrah in. After all, beyond the wedding lies a life of being just like everyone else, na.

Marriage still dominates the social and emotional landscape. And yet, marriage has lost some of its unquestioned sheen. A wave of feminist activism around dowry murders and domestic abuse opened up its seams in the 1980s. An iconic piece of media at the turn of the century was Breakthrough’s music video Mann ke Manjeere, sung by Shubha Mudgal. Based on the story of Shameem Pathan who broke out of her abusive marriage and supported her family as a truck driver, the video, shot in earthy hues, marked the shifting public image of marriage. In response, matrimony was reframed to include some measure of choice by women, while leaving its larger frame intact. Ninety per cent of Indian marriages are arranged. Only a tiny sliver is inter-caste or inter-faith. It is as if weddings became technicolour extravaganzas to provide the marketing sheen marriage has lost.

A new video by the Nooran sisters visits this territory in an intriguing fashion. Thari Daulat Thari Gadi, depicts an abusive feudal marriage, where the woman roils in a cage—dressed in bridal couture. Interstitial scenes feature women in tableaux that seem to mock bridal couture. In that startling climax, the woman chains her partner to a post. She rips her wedding photo violently— “noch noch ke phaad di”. She departs with a giant damn you. She has changed out of the dress.

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

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