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It’s a red and gold sky

Wren Wertin
Special to the Daily"Monsoon Wedding" is a highly colorful movie rich with pageantry.
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“Monsoon Wedding,” the first Indian film to take the top prize at the Venice International Film Festival in 44 years, is being released on video Tuesday. If you missed it in the theater, it’s worth a rental.

Directed and produced by Mira Nair (“Kama Sutra,” “Mississippi Masala” and “Salaam Bombay!”), “Monsoon Wedding” is a giant postcard book of color, highly saturated and never subtle. Composed of five interrelated storylines, it’s a dance through the streets of Delhi. The film captures the culture’s emotion, ribaldry and love of pageantry.

“Monsoon Wedding” focuses on a Punjabi family in Delhi. The entire extended family is coming from around the globe for the wedding of daughter Aditi, played by recording star Vasundhara Das. It’s an arranged marriage; the bride and groom have never met. Despite the fact that Aditi has agreed to the marriage, it hasn’t quite sunk in that she needs to end her affair with her self-absorbed married boss.

Her independent and irreverent cousin Ria (Shefali Shetty) is involved in both Aditi’s story and one of her own – the events of which set up the film to work toward the ultimate goal of a family being loyal to each other despite the consequences. The success of this theme might be attributed in part to the fact that Nair’s own family brought meals to the set on each of the 30 days it took to make the film. They also opened up their homes to donate furniture for the sets.

The film explores the incongruous but nevertheless peaceful status quo of the “dot.com” society sharing space with traditional values. The marigold-eating wedding coordinator P.K Dubey (Vijay Raaz) talks on the cell phone about stocks, all the while steadily falling in love with the shyly demure Alice (Tilotama Shome). A glass of water becomes significant. It is with this particular storyline that makes the movie seem like a Shakespearean comedy: an echoing sub-plot, an ending that means rejoicing.

“Monsoon Wedding” is visually stimulating, a whirling dervish of color.

“I got so excited about working on the Indian streets because the life around me, the sparkle of the chaos, is what really excites me,” said Nair. “I want to use it, eat it up, show it on the screen…have every frame pulsating with life.”

The movie pauses when it needs to pause, allowing the viewer to catch up to the story. There are subtitles for the Hindi and Punjabi parts of the movie – and even the English when the accent is thicker than cheesecake, a conscious decision and a nice touch by the director.

“Monsoon Wedding” is rated R for language and sexual situations.

Wren Wertin can be reached via e-mail at wrenw@vaildaily.com or phone at 949-0555 ext. 618.


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