[REVIEW] Veere Di Wedding Is The Kind Of Cinema Bollywood Should Encourage
In the space of commercial cinema, Veere Di Wedding refreshingly breaks many rules and shatters numerous stereotypes that have defined mainstream Bollywood for decades.
Let me be upfront about something: Veere Di Wedding is not a film with an agenda. I do not think that, just because the film has female leads, it bears the responsibility of fixing every single problem that has plagued Bollywood till date. It also does not have to be a “feminist” film or pass the Bechdel Test. Bollywood is far from achieving any of those benchmarks.
The most feminist thing about Veere Di Wedding is that it is a story about flawed women. And nothing is more refreshing and heartwarming than that. It shows women who are silly, stupid, reactionary, foul-mouthed, weak and insecure and a bundle of other human and natural emotions and qualities that leading ladies have not been allowed to portray. They have always had to be pure, pristine – pavitra. VDW shatters that idea. I had come across enough people asking a bunch of questions after watching the film’s trailer – “Is feminism about drinking and smoking and cussing?” or “Why are they saying bhenchod? Is that what being modern and urban means?” No, it doesn’t. But what does is the acceptance that women can also behave immorally, ingest substances that are injurious to health and use unacceptable language – and not be judged for it. Because men are not.
Before you start whining about man-hating and bra-burning, Feminism is the political, social, economical, cultural, personal, representational equality of the sexes. Woman = Man. Period. No other definition exists. No, it does not say women are better than men.
Moving on, the story is not a novel plot: childhood friends gear up for one of the girls’ wedding, and secrets and insecurities spill out – and get sorted by the end of the film. Parents finally accept them for who they are, family patriarchs stop fighting with each other, the groom understands that a relationship should not be stifled by an overbearing family, the girls fight, make up, sob, sniffle – and when the shit hits the fan, runs off to Phuket because even if there’s no wedding, there can still be a honeymoon. The narrative is a mish-mash of chick flicks (oops, I said it) and heavily borrows from Sex And The City. Brands are plugged in (quite blatantly) and clothes change like you are skimming through pages of a magazine. Summer chic? Bridal couture? The modern bride? Long line trends? Statement accessorising? Easy hipster? – the scenes flash by you like fashion editorials. Maybe that’s the pitfall of having a stylist for a producer.
But even amid all the clichés, a few things stand out. The character’s cuss irreverently – something that feels forced initially but eases out soon. Women discuss sex, sexual pleasure, desire, orgasms, vibrators, jerking off and dick sizes. Women make mistakes, run away from weddings and don’t aspire to be wed. Women are not given flak for not being constantly vigilant mothers and letting their hair down and getting sloshed. Gay men are not caricaturised and portrayed as effeminate cartoons. Also, gay men are not portrayed as weak, over-sensitive, fashion-hungry, fragile beings – they get into fist fights, yell and shout and also partake in bad decision making. That is the film’s biggest win – to humanise archetypal constructs that have forever been the “formula” in Indian cinema.
The star of the film, though, is Swara Bhasker. A drastic change from her indie outings, Bhasker flaunts her acting chops and makes it clear that one is not an “indie” or a “mainstream” actor – you are simply a good or a bad one. And she is fabulous. Her character, Sakshi Soni, has the strongest arc – a tiring need to walk the tight rope between craving filial love and approval and trying to put up a strong front of IDGAF. Also, the woman is definitely going down in history as possibly the first actress to have a full blown orgasm with a vibrator in mainstream cinema, while she makes her husband wait for her to “finish”, before coyly smiling and saying, “Aaj jaldi ghar aa gaye?” The scene is equal parts funny, irreverent and powerful. Shikha Talsania also ably supports the quadrangle as the one who married the firang against the family’s wishes, battling body issues and maternal exhaustion. The bigger stars – Kareena Kapoor Khan and Sonam Kapoor – ably add to the glam quotient.
If you want a fun film to catch this weekend, VDW is a good bet. It is a light and frothy sequin fest – a matter-of-fact for the urban audience, but might just also be a crash course in Being Progressive 101 for many.