Up until a few months ago, nobody would have been happier at the prospect of a gynocentric film being made in Bollywood than me. The film ‘Veere di wedding’ released about two months ago, on the 1st of June. The filmmakers chose to market this film as a feminist venture, which was released across 2177 screens and ended up becoming a commercial success.
At that time, I did not get a chance to watch the film, but I decided to watch it a few days ago. While the film has gained a lot of popularity among the audiences, I did not find it worthy of the accolades it has received. Veere di wedding is an old wine wrapped in a new bottle. I had sensed the catastrophe when the trailer was first dropped and later when the promotional music video was released which confirmed my suspicion. The promotional music video looked like a shampoo commercial to me.
We have a movie that is based on the idea of camaraderie and companionship among four women. But this movie seems to be a mockery of the grand wedding traditions in India and tries to address some of the problems in the lives of women, through its characters. As the film opens, we’re introduced to four of its characters, Avni (Sonam Kapoor), Kalindi Puri (Kareena Kapoor), Shikha (Swara Bhaskar) and Meera (Shikha Talsania).
Avni(Sonam Kapoor), is an overachieving, ambitious character, who wants to have the cake and eat it too. She is a divorce lawyer and is trying to find a match for herself before she turns thirty. After several failed attempts, she decides to settle for an arranged marriage with a guy of her mother’s choice. Even after being an affluent professional, somehow she feels like a failure for not adhering to the norms of success set for a woman in our society- getting married and embracing motherhood.
Naturally, we also have a designated fat friend in the group, who has put on an extra layer of fat because of ‘pregnancy’. The problem of weight gain otherwise, is not acceptable to the Bollywood standards or our society’s for that matter. She is depicted as a happily married woman with a kid. Swara Bhaskar portrays a character with a problem of drinking and drug addiction, who is going through a divorce with her husband who is a douchebag. She nails the role, her character wears a face of perennial sass for the entire duration of the film.
Finally, the ‘veere’, Kalindi Puri, played by Kareena Kapoor, says yes to a marriage she’s obviously not ready for. This character reminds us of Kabir Dewan (Abhay Deol) from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. But, since she’s a girl and her having commitment issues is not acceptable to an Indian audience, she’s given a history to justify this. The film showcases that her problems with marriage just exist in her head, emanated from a failed marriage between her parents. Kareena Kapoor as Kalindi Puri fails to impress overall.
The director has funny ideas of female empowerment. Shashanka Ghosh, who also made the Sonam Kapoor starrer Khoobsurat, has successfully made a female-centric film, but instead of treating women as people, he objectifies them like any other Bollywood film. He has given us a ‘women-centric’ film that caters to all the notions of patriarchy. The women are shown drinking, butt-slapping, visiting strip-clubs and addressing each other as ‘bros’ basically, they are playing a typical male character from Bollywood.
All of this makes the movie nothing but a male’s take on the lives of women. The promo song has these women dancing around in skimpy outfits, like many famous pop-music videos, lip-syncing to the misogynistic lyrics of a male rapper. All clearly done to attract the male audience to the theatre. The filmmakers continue to stick with the stereotypical ‘women-centric cinema’ in India which cannot work without opulent sets and glamorous women. Also, the fact that this movie revolves around the idea of marriage, it is obviously seen as a safe arena for women.
Another problem with this movie is that it trivializes the actual issues in women’s daily lives. None of these women has a white-collar job, except for Avni, which also makes up a sub-plot of the film. It addresses some superfluous problems only to hide behind them. The women are shown drinking, smoking and cruising through life with their petty problems. What started off as maybe a mockery of traditions ends up being a mockery of the lives of these women. The film tries to convey that women have ‘made-up’ troubles in their lives because they don’t have to deal with real-life situations, like being ‘bread-winners’ for instance.
People like to believe such women exist, but I have hardly encountered one in my life. They definitely don’t live among us. This movie may seem like a harmless effort but, a movie like this could have an irrevocable effect on the minds of audiences across the country. Maybe the idea was to make a comedy film, but I don’t understand the director’s sense of humour. The movie is a satire on the ‘big fat Indian weddings’ and the old traditions that Indians hold adhere to and spend crores on them; only for these marriages to end up in separation.
Shashanka Ghosh went overboard with the whole concept, exactly like people who go overboard with their wedding ceremonies. The women did a great job of doing what people usually believe women do best – looking beautiful and not crossing any boundaries. The film doesn’t take itself too seriously and we shouldn’t either. While this film on the outside, can look promising, it is the same old typical Bollywood film.