This 2001 film directed by Mira Nair has settled in my hinterland. It tells the story of a family as it prepares for a large wedding with the father Lalit at the centre trying to keep everyone happy. His daughter Aditi is to marry a man selected by the family and the wedding must be expensive to show how much she is valued. Relatives will arrive from around the world to participate. These include Lalit’s brother- in -law, Tej. He has an important place in the family because of help he gave when the family was penniless. He is an honoured guest.
The extended family includes Aditi’s cousin Ria, taken in by Lalit when her father died. Her desire to study abroad looks promising when Tej offers to pay for her but there is trouble when Ria, who stays clear of Tej, sees him flirting with a ten-year old relative. This brings back memories of when she was young and the wedding is put under threat when she makes an accusation against the wealthy visitor.
The film shows Lalit trying to keep his family together despite all the issues emerging. His son has planned a dance with a cousin and wants to perform at the wedding but he is concerned that the boy is effeminate and such a public display will shame them all. This is the least of his worries, though, and the central dilemma is whether Lalit will protect his niece and risk a break with an important and wealthy relative.
The setting of New Dehli and the fact that this is an Indian family is less significant than the fact that this is a family and the emotional baggage arrives with all the guests and members of the extended family. There are cultural specifics but the story is universal.
‘Monsoon Wedding’ is in my hinterland. What’s in yours?