My father often tells me the story of when Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather was released in India. Having already seen the film once, and loving it, he dragged a few of his friends to see it. 3 hours later they emerged into the sunlight and, when asked by my father what they thought, there was a collective shrug and a universal acknowledgment that the film was merely passable.
My father (who at this point was utterly baffled) asked why they thought so? Their response was merely three words.
“Not enough songs”
My father laughs about it now, but that obsession with musical numbers is why I stopped watching Bollywood films at the cinema nearly a decade ago, and now rarely watch them at home. Don’t get me wrong, a good musical can always tickle my fancy, but Bollywood adds musical numbers to such inappropriate subject matters and genres that it’s hard not to get irritated sometimes.
So Veere Di Wedding was already going to be another film for me to avoid. But then I saw the trailer. And for the first time in my life I saw a Bollywood film that wasn’t being advertised primarily through its musical numbers; but rather through an almost American Pie-esque approach to sex and language. Hell, that 2 minute and 49 second trailer has 5 sexual references, 5 f**ks, 2 b**ches and 1 c*nt.
I’m not saying that’s the kind of thing that makes me watch a movie (Well, in this case it is); but it’s clear that Bollywood has vastly changed since I started my odd little boycott. Is Indian cinema finally doing something different on the big screen?
Kalindi (Kareena Kapoor) has just accepted a proposal by her long-term boyfriend, Rishabh (Sumeet Vyas). But as she’s put under siege by her new fiance’s extended family, she starts to have second thoughts. Though she confides her uncertainty with her three best friends, they have problems of their own.
Avni (Sonam Kapoor) is hounded by her mother to settle down and find a husband, despite the fact she is already a very successful lawyer. Sakshi (Swara Bhaskar) is a carefree girl who throws caution to the wind at every turn, partly due to her own marriage being on the rocks. And lastly Meera (Shikha Talsania) is trying to deal with her father having disowned her because she chose to marry a white man (Edward Sonnenblick).
Together the girls must try to deal with their woes, have each other’s backs, and overcome the problems that a male-dominated world has thrown upon them.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen an Indian film with no violence and still be given a 15 cinema rating based purely on sex and bad language. Veere di Wedding is definitely a film you don’t want to take your mother to!
In fact, while watching the movie I was reminded of a hypothesis I read a few years ago that suggested swearing is a “sign of a weak vocabulary.” While I don’t agree with that for real life, it was hard not to think of that hypothesis when considering this movie’s overall script. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not being a prude or anything. Swearing is fine and good, but it has to mean something in the grand scheme, whether it be a reveal of character traits, an expression of emotion or providing a punchline. But in this script, written by Nidhi Mehra and Mehul Suri, the use of swearing seems to be more of a crutch to support weak dialogue, rather than anything substantial.
That weakness also extends to the movie’s plot. While it’s easy to ignore the usual stereotypes that surround a wedding movie; such as an overbearing mother-in-law or the sassy gay supporting character, Veere di Wedding can’t quite decide how it wants to present its leading female characters. On the one hand there’s an indication that showing women trying to cut loose from the patriarchy is a form of feminism. That’s fine and all, but as a result of this rejection, the foursome then go on to act like idiotic men.
For example there’s one scene where Sonam Kapoor’s character tries to kiss a guy, but ends up getting rejected. She completely loses it, and then goes to her friends where the four of them proceed to insult the guy, question his sexuality and generally call his character into question. Imagine for a second that the roles were reversed. Would we, in this day and age, call a rejected man questioning a girl’s sexuality anything but sexist?
However, the biggest problem with Veere di Wedding is its lack of soul. The main foursome, while interacting in a way that supports the fact they are lifelong friends, are nonetheless insanely difficult to emphasise with. Similar to the leads in Sex and the City, these are essentially four rich entitled ladies who have first world problems. As such it gets to a point where you don’t really care whether or not these women manage to overcome their issues.
But it’s not all a failure. Ironically the music, an aspect which I detest in most Indian movies, turns out to be the best part of Veere di Wedding. None of the songs are classics in any sense, but Veere and Tareefan are decent toe-tapping numbers. And visually the film has clearly spared no expense, with high-class fashion, extravagant location shooting and beautiful vistas showing off exactly where that ₹42 crore went.
Overall, while Veere di Wedding is visually enjoyable and passable funny, without that connection between the audience and the four leads, this film lacks the heart that other similar (and better films) such as Girls Trip or Bridesmaids have shown.