Nobody could have been happier at the prospect of a gynocentric Bollywood film but While the film Veere di wedding has chosen to market itself like a feminist venture, what it delivers is obviously less than that. What it delivers is an old idea wrapped up in new champagne coloured packaging. I had sensed the catastrophe when the trailer was first dropped and then later when the promotional music video was released. The promotional music video that looks like a L’Oréal ad. We have a movie that is based off of the gullible ideas of camaraderie and companionship among four women but I decided to watch it in the cinemas anyway so that I could attempt a feminist analysis of it. What I did notice, was that the price of the tickets, decided by the producers, when compared to the other contemporary Bollywood films was cheaper.
The 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).
We’ve Avni, the overachieving, ambitious woman, who wants to have the whole cake and eat it too. She’s well-educated and is a (divorce, irony) lawyer. Who is trying to find a match for herself before she hits thirty and after several fallible attempts decides to settle for her mother’s choice, also called arrange marriages. Somehow her character feels incompetent, even after being an affluent professional, if she doesn’t adhere to the norms of success (set for a woman) in a society because what is a woman, if not a mother?
We’ve the fat friend of the group, who has obviously put on an extra layer of fat because she had to deal with pregnancy because the problem of weight gain otherwise, by itself is obviously not a viable issue in the eyes of our society. So she’s shown happily married with a kid.
You would obviously hope that a movie that dares to cast Swara Bhaskar in it would do better than that but to our disappointment, she portrays a character with a drinking and drug addiction problem who is going through a divorce with her husband not because of her unacceptable ways but because he is some sort of a douche. Swara Bhaskar though nails the role as she chooses to wear a face of perennial sass for the entire duration of the film.
Finally, we’ve our Veere, Kalindi Puri, who says yes to a marriage she’s obviously not ready for almost reminding us of Kabir Dewan (Abhay Deol) from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara but since she’s a girl and a girl cannot be given commitment issues because that’s not acceptable to an Indian audience, she’s given a history instead. The film showcases that her existing problems with marriage all exist in her head emanated from the bad decisions taken by her parents, whose ramifications manifested themselves in the form of a failed marriage. Kareena Kapoor as Kalindi Puri fails to impress overall.
The director has funny ideas of female empowerment. Shashanka Ghosh, who made the Sonam Kapoor starrer Khoobsurat, has successfully made a female centric film, that instead of treating women like subjects, objectifies them. He’s giving you women centric cinema that actually caters to all the notions of patriarchy, as the women are shown drinking, butt-slapping, visiting strip-clubs and addressing each other as Bros “Veer”. The movie conforms to every norm of patriarchy that one is expected to adhere to. 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 clothing like in any other Punjabi music video, lip syncing to the misogynistic lyrics of a male rapper, in sneakers. All clearly done to attract a male audience to the theatres. Shashanka Ghosh proves true the stereotype that women centric cinema can not work without opulent sets, costume changes, glamour and flaunting heavy makeup. Also, the fact that this movie revolves around the idea of marriage, which is obviously seen as a safe arena for women contributes to the prejudice.
The problem though with this movie is that it trivializes the actual issues that surrounds women’s lives. None of these characters seem to be working white-collar jobs, except for Avni, which 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 women, which almost shows how women have “made-up” troubles in life because they don’t have to deal with real life situations, such as being bread-winners for instance. While people might tell me that women like these do exist, where are they? And why don’t they live among us?
This movie may seem like a harmless effort but a movie like this could have irrevocable effects on the kind of audience found in India. Maybe the idea was to have fun but I don’t understand the director’s notions of humour. The movie seems to be a satire on the big fat Indian wedding and the traditions that Indians hold on to, spending crores on them, only for those marriages to end in separation. But Shashanka Ghosh went seriously overboard with the whole concept, exactly like people 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 breaking any boundaries.
While this film on the outside, can look promising, it is the same old with a touch of Midas.
Image Source: The Indian Express.