Monsoon Wedding 

directed by Mira Nair


Review of the film  by Albert Michael 

**** ½  out of *****


Perhaps the movie “ Monsoon Wedding “ could be re-titled an “Ode to the Punjabi Life Style in Delhi” !   Mira Nair, with such directorial credits as “ Salaam Bombay”, “ Mississippi Masala “ and “ The Perez Family “ has certainly created an ode which pays  tribute to both her Punjabi  family roots and to her original native city of Delhi.

The main story line is a straight forward one of an Indian wedding complete with it’s attendant characteristics of color, costumes, culinary delights, music, dancing, flowers, garlands and the groom riding on a horse back to meet his bride to be – in other words, a complete package of Indian culture.

However, Mira Nair has done a deft job of exploring a few other themes in the movie –

1. Relationships – The approach to arranged marriage as seen by the bride who is still in love with her married ex-boy friend and waits till the last minute to agree to marry the groom.  The groom, an Indian living in the U.S.A who is shocked to realize that his bride to be would have been in love with someone else while agreeing to an arranged marriage. They do overcome their mutual reluctance and  start to fall in love with each other. A neat lesson that before you marry someone, love does not have to be in full bloom but that there be a willingness to accept and love each other. 

2. With international travel, movies and high tech jobs in the West, Indian life style is taking on such Western ways of doing things – who ever heard of “Event Planner” and “ Wedding Planner “ in India say, of a decade ago ? The movie does a humorous piece on the character, role, foibles and mannerisms of an Indian wedding planner – he’s no Jennifer Lopez in her role as the wedding planner but the characterization of the role by Dube in the movie is quite hilarious.

3. India is an enigma – a deeply spiritual country, it is also one of the global leaders in high tech. and dot-com culture .  The movie does a nice piece on the extensive use of cell phones and a senior citizen caught up with the stock market and mutual fund mania.

4. Family life and memories good and bad – it is no secret that family and especially children are a big part of Indian life. The movie examines the destructive part pedophilia plays on a family and the strain it places on relationships that have lasted a life time.  The movie shows that family elders need to stand up for what is right and in defense of their loved ones even if it means losing  life long and lucrative associations. 


5. Romance on the outside – while the wedding planner is busy organizing an arranged marriage he is in fact falling in love with the Christian house maid for the Varma family.  Eventually Dube and Alice do get married.  This is an interesting theme to realize that in the India of arranged marriages people do fall in love and get married to each other from different cultures and religions. 

Punjabis like Mira Nair have moved to a number of countries all over the world.   They are a successful group of people and many of them are internationally famous. And yet, they do not seem to lose their Punjabiness or Indianness ! Monsoon Wedding essentially celebrates both these characteristics in a very colorful manner. They like to work hard, live the good life, celebrate, dance, sing and play golf.  Like Indians in general, they are willing to spend a lot  on a daughter’s wedding even if it means borrowing money.  Why, the Varma family even has a Christian girl as  the house maid – surely a status symbol !  Are “ Punjabis too ostentatious” the movie asks. It depends who you ask – perhaps the Bengalis would think so but then they are “ too pretentious “ !

The movie brings out all the foibles, fights and humour of an Indian, a Delhi and a Punjabi life style.  As in all Indian movies there is the regular quota of song, dance, music, drama as well as  family trauma. As I watched the movie I felt that while it explored the Punjabi approach to life there was so much of commonality with all cultures when it comes to family life , children and relationship with family and friends. In exploring these themes the movie had a universal appeal regardless of country or culture. This would explain it’s phenomenal success at the box office all over North America.

There were some neat camera shots of smog and pollution in Delhi with people using masks to cover their noses; the eerie glow of night time on the streets of  Delhi  ; the streets awash in pouring rain and people going about their daily lives. The final scene with the wedding party dancing in pouring rain is such a happy event.  The rain and dance are almost cathartic in cleansing away all the tension and sadness in some of the issues in the movie.  Weddings are to be happy occasions for celebration and joy. And that’s what the final scene is all about. Ah those Punjabis!! They certainly know how to express their “ joie de vivre “.

Are there any deficiencies in the movie ? I wondered at the excessive swearing used in the dialogues.   I was in Delhi in 2000 and I do not remember people talking this way.  The sub-titles for the dialogue were not highly readable – they could have been placed with a dark background to give it a brighter readability factor.

The movie serves a delicious slice of an Indian wedding cake – sweet and spicy in parts – delicious all the same. 

Full Cast and Crew for
Monsoon Wedding (2001) 

Directed by 
Mira Nair 

Writing credits 
Sabrina Dhawan 

Cast (in credits order) 
Naseeruddin Shah .... Lalit Verma 
Lillete Dubey .... Pimmi Verma 
Shefali Shetty .... Ria Verma 
Vijay Raaz .... P.K.Dubey 
Tilotama Shome .... Alice 
Vasundhara Das .... Aditi Verma 
Parvin Dabas .... Hemant Rai 
Kulbhushan Kharbanda .... C.L.Chadha 
Kamini Khanna .... Shashi Chadha 
Rajat Kapoor (I) .... Tej Puri 
Neha Dubey .... Ayesha Verma 
Kemaya Kidwai .... Aliya Verma 
Ishaan Nair .... Varun Verma 
Randeep Hooda .... Rahul Chadha 
Roshan Seth .... Mohan Rai 
Soni Razdan .... Saroj Rai 
Sameer Arya .... Vikram Mehta 
Rahul Vohra .... Uday Verma 
Natasha Rastogi .... Sona Verma 
Vimla Bhushan .... Veena Verma 
Ira Pandey .... Vijaya Puri 
Dibyendu Bhattacharya .... Lottery 
Deepak Kumar Bandhu .... Tameez-ud-din 
Pankaj Jha .... Yadav 
Mohini Mathur .... Old Mother 
Sharda Desohras .... P.K.Dube's Mother 
Rumaan Kidwai .... Jibesh 
Sahira Nair .... Vandana 
Urvashi Nair .... Leena 
Ram Kapur .... Shelly 
Jas Arora .... Umang Chadha 
Rajiv Gupta .... Cop 1 
Shubro Bhattacharya .... Cop 2 
Rajeev Suri .... Golfer 
Vikram Nair .... Golfer 
Rajeev Bal .... Golfer 
Raman Chawla .... Talk Show Panelist #1 
Milan Moudgill .... Talk Show Panelist #2 
Himani Dehlvi .... Talk Show Panelist #3 
Nisha Singh Bhadli .... Dubbist 
Neelu Khanna .... Talk Show Assistant 
Motilal Khare .... Saree Salesman 
Paritosh Sand .... Jai Chand 
Ambar B. Capoor .... Photographer 
Renuka .... Woman in the Rain 
Inderjit B. .... Foxtrotting Couple 
Reena Singh .... Foxtrotting Couple 
Madan Bala Sindhu .... Featured Punjabi Singer 
Rekha (IV) .... Featured Solo Singer 
Nilambara Chintamani .... Tuppa Girl 
Gita Chopra .... Tuppa Girl 
Priya Chopra .... Tuppa Girl 
Sabrina Dhawan .... Tuppa Girl 
Rimlu Gyani .... Tuppa Girl 
Mitva Krishen .... Tuppa Girl 
Jyotsna Laroiya .... Tuppa Girl 
Lavanya Prabhu .... Tuppa Girl 
Veetu Mehta .... Tuppa Girl 
Aparna Sarin .... Tuppa Girl 
Chitvan Singh .... Tuppa Girl 
Sonali Singh .... Tuppa Girl 

Produced by 
Robyn Aronstam .... associate producer 
Caroline Baron .... producer 
Caroline Kaplan .... executive producer 
Mira Nair .... producer 
Jonathan Sehring .... executive producer 

Original music by 
Mychael Danna 

Cinematography by 
Declan Quinn 

Film Editing by 
Allyson C. Johnson 

Casting by 
Uma Da Cunha 
Dileep Shankar 
Loveleen Tandan 

Production Design by 
Stephanie Carroll 

Art Direction by 
Sunil Chabra 

Costume Design by 
Arjun Bhasin 

Makeup Department 
LuAnn Claps .... hair designer
makeup designer 
Prakash Maruti Lad .... make-up: Naseeruddin Shah 
Samantha Kochar Sapru .... key hair stylist 
Rajesh Setia .... key makeup artist 

Production Management 
Jessica Berman .... production supervisor (as Jessica Huppert Berman) 
Iqbal Kidwai .... production manager 
Annie Mathews .... production coordinator: New Delhi 
Anureeta Saigal .... production coordinator: New Delhi 

Second Unit Director or Assistant Director 
Monsoon Bissell .... first assistant director 
Anjali Panjabi .... first assistant director 
Kiran Rao .... second second assistant director 
Michael Shea (V) .... first assistant director 
Loveleen Tandan .... second assistant director 

Art Department 
Anees .... art department assistant 
Vineet Dewan .... art department assistant 
Sahira Nair .... art department assistant 
Ayesha Punvani .... set dresser 
Ayesha Sood .... assistant art director 

Sound Department 
Kevin Banks .... sound editor 
Ajae Clearway .... assistant sound editor 
Ryan Collison .... foley mixer 
Dan Fulton .... apprentice sound editor 
U. Shahul Hameed .... adr engineer: Bombay 
Dustin Hudson .... sound consultant: Dolby 
Allyson C. Johnson .... music editor 
Dan Korintus .... adr editor 
Malaika Langa .... audio post coordinator 
Lisa J. Levine .... adr editor 
Henri Morelle .... sound mixer 
Stéphane Morelle .... boom operator 
Warren Shaw .... dialogue editor 
Paul P. Soucek .... sound effects editor 
Brian Vancho .... foley artist 
Steven Visscher .... foley editor 
Magdaline Volaitis .... sound effects editor
supervising sound editor 
Peter Wagonner .... sound re-recording mixer 
Daniel Ward .... assistant sound editor (as Dan Ward) 
Akil Wilson .... sound intern 

Other crew 
Liaqat Ali .... wardrobe assistant 
Maqsood Ali .... electrician
Sabir Ali .... wardrobe assistant 
Robyn Aronstam .... script supervisor 
Adam M. Balasaheb .... electrician
Naresh Bedi .... director of photography: second unit 
Devika Bhagat .... post-production intern 
Yuvraj Bhansode .... spot boy 
Sarah Bicknell .... post-production assistant 
Barry Alexander Brown .... editorial consultant 
Dhruv Chawla .... production assistant 
Balaram Dawande .... electrician
Varsha Dewan .... location manager 
Anna Dinouva .... assistant editor 
Emily Gardiner .... production coordinator 
Charlie Hauser .... color timer 
Ikrar Hussein .... tailor 
Vijay Jodha .... assistant to director of photography 
Zsolt Kadar .... first assistant camera 
Geeta Kapoor .... assistant choreographer 
Farah Khan .... choreographer 
Islamuddin Khan .... location assistant 
Rasool Khan .... electrician
Rumaan Kidwai .... production assistant 
Andrew Lockington .... conductor
Ashish Maurya .... still photographer 
Jessica Milhollin .... assistant: Ms. Nair 
Sadruddin Jiva Mistry .... generator operator 
Sarah Morton .... post-production assistant 
Milan Moudgill .... still photographer 
Ashwini Parulkar .... teacher: Iyengar Yoga 
Poornima Phansalkar .... production assistant 
Kishan Poruva .... generator assistant 
Sapnis Pradhan .... generator assistant 
Rajkumar (III) .... spot boy 
Moti Ram .... spot boy 
Kamlesh Sadrani .... gaffer 
Ashok Kumar Sarade .... electrician
Manav Sehgal .... assistant to production manager 
Abhinandan Sekhri .... production assistant 
Amit Sharma .... production assistant 
Pervinder Singh .... location assistant 
Prem Singh .... production runner 
Sukhwinder Singh .... playback singer: original song 
Jennifer Stuart (I) .... second assistant camera 
Baban Ganpath Tambe .... electrician
Roland Tec .... production liaison: New York 
Revathy Venkatavaman .... casting consultant 
Jameel Ahmed Zafari .... electrician
Barkhat M. Zaria .... best boy
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