You can also buy a CD of the musical
The Verma family are a middle class Punjabi family living in New Delhi, headed by the hapless father Lalit (Naseeruddin Shah) who, with his wife, Pimmi (Lilette Dubey) have arranged a marriage for their daughter, Aditi (Vasundhara Das), to Hemant (Parvin Dubas), an engineer from Houston. As he flies over with his family to meet his bride and marry, she is busy coming to terms with the end of her affair with her married lover and boss, Vikram (Sameer Arya).
Lalit has hired a mobile phone wielding wedding planner, PK Dubey (Vijay Raaz), to ensure that all runs smoothly, but things soon start to fall to pieces, as Lalit's penny-pinching and Dubey's on-the-cheap approach soon manifest themselves in the collapse of the wedding's central feature - a large marigold archway, an ominous start to the wedding celebrations. But Dubey soon has other distractions as he falls for the Verma family's maid, Alice (Tilotama Shome).
With relatives flying in from all over the world, there soon develops a clash of cultures and families. As the four day and night build-up to the wedding unfolds, hidden secrets and new relationships threaten to disrupt the Vermas most special day.
This is an ambitious film with five interwoven tales of love beautifully detailed here, whether it be the magic love of Alice or Dubey or the dysfunctional love or the kind of 'old shoe' love, of the mother and father of the bride. The use of an unobtrusive handheld camera, and the conditions they were working under, three weeks of rehearsal, followed by 30 days filming capture the 'last minute' nature of a hastily put together wedding. With its huge cast of speaking actors, over 60 at the last count, the audience, just like the groom, has to absorb all the relations, despite many being referred to as nicknames as well as their real names. With the dialogue swinging from Hindi to English, often in mid-sentence, the film remains vibrant and passionate.
On one level this is a heart-warming tale of old and new love coming together, the film shows us that love come blossom unexpectedly between those in an arranged marriage, and between two shy individuals. But on another it exposes the contradictions between rituals and reality, and smashes the perceived notion of sexuality and commerce in India by the Western world. The India here is vastly altered from the endless diet of Bollywood movies that are reaching our screens. The wedding planner is a social climber with a mobile phone, but falls for the innocent and shy maid, Alice, who he catches dressing up in her mistress' jewellery. His mother, constantly harping on about his single status and her lack of grandchildren, spends her day playing the stock market. The father has to beg his golfing buddies for money to pay for the wedding, Aditi on the eve of her wedding to a man she barely knows has once last fling in the back of her lover's 4x4. An Uncle's disturbing history of child molestation comes to light and sexuality of modern Indian teenagers is examined.
Bright colours, and occasional bursts of song and dance may, on the surface, seem to have all the hallmarks for a traditional Bollywood romp, but Mira Nair's film is more than that; it captures the underlying changes in Indian culture. Despite some of the film's darker themes, you will remain uplifted, with the film's vibrancy and passion sweeping you along.