Direction: Shashanka Ghosh
Production: Balaji Telefilms, Anil Kapoor Film & Communication Network, Saffron Broadcast & Media
Cast: Kareena Kapoor Khan, Sonam Kapoor, Swara Bhaskar, Shikha Talsania, Sumeet Vyas, Neena Gupta, Manoj Pahwa, Ayesha Raza Mishra
Story & Screenplay: Mehul Suri, Nidhi Mehra
Cinematography: Sudhakar Reddy Yakkanti
Editing: Shweta Venkat Mathew
Music: Shashwat Sachdev, Vishal Mishra, Qaran White Noise Language: Hindi / Drama, Comedy / 125 mins / India / 2018
Masturbation can lead your husband to blackmail you because he has seen you at the job, believes this is cheating and thinks its reason enough to demand crores! And your thought is – ‘It’s not exactly like I am having an affair but… yeah, ok’! So you – the educated, emancipated and empowered woman of 21st century gamely cow down and believe that you are guilty too? And so you will allow that blackmail to continue. You, who belong to the upper strata of ultra chic Delhi society; drive a super-luxurious sedan, live in a farmhouse, wear clothes which reveal more than hide; you - who freely uses cuss words, smoke, drink and are the ‘epitome’ of all that a liberal, advanced girl is supposed to be in today’s ‘urban, Indian society’ wants your audience to believe the same? I mean, really? You want your audiences to buy that? Is masturbation really that big a deal? Gimme a break - Please.
As for you dear reader - you can pick your jaw up from the floor, read the above paragraph again and it won’t change. In this day and age, dialogue and screenplay writers Mehul Suri and Nidhi Mehra of the much publicized Veere di Wedding want you to believe something as banal as this! And director Shashanka Ghosh – of forgettable flicks like Waisa Bhi Hota Hai II and Quick Gun Murugan not only endorses but also executes this idea onscreen rather poorly. And this my dear reader, is just one of the issues with Veere di Wedding but this one instance (more than any other) serves to highlight just how much of a contrast there is between the ‘outer’ and ‘inner’ selves of the lead characters, and the reason why despite being a brave attempt Veere di Wedding falls flat. Completely. Inexorably.
The supposedly coming of age story about four friends is really a film that could have been dealt with more finesse. Instead, it is reduced to promoting the idea of emancipated girls who have all the ‘trappings of empowered women’ overtly but are tied down because of insecurities, circumstances, stereotypical parents and in-laws and beyond-their-control situations. Emancipation in this case, has nothing to do with being educated, intelligent or even financially independent. Barring Sonam Kapoor who has pretences of being a lawyer – none of others do anything for a livelihood. They all come from elite backgrounds (the art direction department certainly works hard at creating that backdrop) and have had great education but have nothing to show for it. Except cuss words, skimpy clothes and obsession with sexuality and who hasn’t been screwed and since when! Is that all there is to liberalism and education?
To top it all Kareena is referred to as ‘Veere’ or Punjabi for Bro (short for brother). What’s wrong in that, you ask? Are the makers sending out a subliminal message that she and by extension her buddies are the equivalent of ‘cool guys’? That all that cussing, daaru and cigarettes projects them as cool dudes? A lot of women smoke, drink and cuss. And it’s no big deal. It certainly is not for the family backgrounds the characters of Sakshi, Meera, Avni and Kalindi are set in. Above all, this behavior doesn’t make them more ‘masculine’ in order to appear ‘modern day feminists’!
Are producers Ekta Kapoor and Shobha Kapoor attempting a version 2.0 of Lipstick Under my Burkha – which they distributed? Because that is it what Veere di Wedding appears to be. Lipstick… set in a tier II city of India had women coming to terms with their exacting social situations rather crudely. Veere di Wedding merely shifts locations; brings in Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla’s designer wear; cleans up the environs from dusty, muddy streets, low brow bathrooms and dingy households to South Delhi farmhouses; fun filled holidays in Phuket; champagne; vodka; nightlife; Bentleys and Range Rovers and gets you thinking… that ‘we remain the same’!
So no matter who you may be externally – from within, you continue to be obsessed with archaic notions of ‘being married’ (as Avni/Sonam is because she wants to be – not just because her mother is forcing her); you continue to reel from the effects of your parents’ broken marriage preferring a live in relationship instead (As Kalindi/Kareena is) even though you have a great man by your side (Rishabh / Sumeet Vyas in a decent performance); and you over indulge and live in excess because your father can afford your lifestyle rather than make something of a life yourself (Meet Sakshi/Swara Bhaskar) and you also believe that masturbation is the cause of all your woes!! (Just as Aishwarya Rai Bachchan/Nandini dumbly believed that a kiss would make her pregnant in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam!) The only believable character is that of Meera, played with some semblance of normalcy by Shikha Talsania, who has eloped with the man of her dreams, has a child, is happy and secure in that relationship – notwithstanding her father’s objections.
Speaking of parents – it’s fashionable now to show all Punjabis as over-the-top aunties and uncles who are necessarily boisterous and loud (Manoj Pahwa, Ayesha Raza Mishra as Rishabh’s parents); story tellers also seem compelled to throw in a gay couple. For whom are these stereotypes being reinforced? And how are they relevant to the plot? How does any of this make Veere di Wedding a better film?
Best avoided, if you ask me.