Rewind The Reels

(This was part of a bridal magazine called Bridal Mantra from The Hindu. Yes. (!))

This is probably an easy list to make or a tough list to make depending on how you quantify it. What’s the frequency of weddings, wedding songs and wedding moments in Bollywood films? Every month? Every week? Twice a week? Probably true all of 90s. Pick a film and there had to be a mehendi song or a sangeet based one at least. Pick a Johar/Chopra film and if you fast forward the wedding sequences, you are pretty much done with the film in about 45 minutes. If you talk about marriage and not wedding, forget choosing a random ten, it is tough to decide what to leave out. But here, it is about the event. These aren’t the best, some of them quite forgettable in fact but they are all based on weddings and nuggets surrounding them.

Hum Aapke Hain Kaun

The “quintessential” wedding video that probably has the unique distinction of being the only watchable – in repeat – one in all of India. Including the real ones, of course. But this is not a bad thing as most people deem it to be. The one thing going for HAHK is its mostly likable set of characters even if they are coated with an extra tinge of the saccharine. Great music, constantly eventful setting, moment after moment recreating the joie de vivre of an Indian wedding – you have HAHK. Add to this Madhuri Dixit in a mid 90s hard core mainstream film form, what’s not to love.

Hum Saath Saath Hain

The film itself may not be about weddings but then it is also a Sooraj Barjatya film. It has characters whose families have had a gentleman’s agreement about their marriages since the day of birth. It starts with the twenty fifth wedding anniversary of the principal couple (their eldest son is Monish Bahl!), which is followed by the much anticipated wedding of the eldest son. Much like Barjatya’s mega hit before this, the plot doesn’t move forward much except for engagements, parties, festivals and weddings. It ends with TWO weddings. If a literally “eventful” film was a thing, this is royal cheese.

Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge

With that title and the kind of box office collection it enjoyed, omitting Aditya Chopra’s directorial debut will be a farce. DDLJ may not be a “wedding” film so as to say but the 2nd part of the film – the admirable stronger part – builds up in anticipation of one. The wedding camaraderie and playfulness is what helps Raj Malhotra to sweet talk his way into the hearts of Baldev and his extended set of family and friends. It has one of the greatest wedding/mehendi songs shot with Amrish Puri channelling Waqt, no less. And if you just landed from Mars, there is Maratha Mandir for you to check the film out. Tomorrow should be good.

Band Baaja Baraat

Possibly one of the best romcoms to come out of Bollywood in recent times, Band Baaja Baraat dealt with every little detail behind the planning of a wedding. And in one of the rarest of cases in mainstream Hindi film, the weddings also included the middle class Janakpuri kinds and not only the South Delhi/Bombay affluent ones. This was the kind of film where the wedding planner was capable of saying about his client, “Shit bolti hai to bhi lagta hai FM bhaj gaya“. A winner mainly thanks to the fiery writing behind the character of Shruti Kakkar, who is played excellently by Anushka Sharma. She plays her with the right amount of spunk, fluff and temerity. Band Baaja Baraat kisses you, makes love to you and smiles first the morning after.

Vivaah & Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai

One film tried to recreate the casting (that was assumed to be a winner!) of Mohabbatein and another went without Salman Khan who was the permanent fixture for more than a decade. The male lead was still called Prem though. Two unanimously irredeemable films. Two films from two powerhouse production houses. Two films with amazingly uninteresting actors and characters. Two films that had no business being in the 90s, much less the noughties. Two films that are not worth talking about. Two films that indeed rambled around weddings.

Tanu Weds Manu

Tanu Weds Manu came with an age old premise albeit lovingly packaged with some great casting. Madhavan playing the seedha saadha Manu to the naturally brattish Tanu played by Kangana Ranaut. It was also blessed with great music (can you do better than Sadi Gali for any glitzy Indian wedding?) and a solid supporting arc in Deepak Dobriyal on Madhavan’s side and Swara Bhaskar on Tanu’s. All this till they decide to kill Madhavan’s character and reduce him to a self-sacrificing loser. But when that nags, the songs like Sadi Gali and
Jugni, the revelry and celebratory tone of the boisterous Indian wedding keeps everything at the surface and watchable.

Bride and Prejudice

Gurinder Chadha’s version of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice was not only set in the modern times, it was also Indianized or rather Bollywood-ized with all the glamour and  splendour of subcontinent weddings. Even the title was punned upon to reflect that. At that point in time, Aishwarya Rai for Elizabeth Bennet turned out to be great casting but apart from that the film did not have much going for it. But what it lacked in the essence of Austen, it made up for it with the colours and cacophony of desi weddings as if the marriage itself was between Bollywood and weddings.

Mere Brother Ki Dulhan

You can’t do worse for a title. Especially when by the time you finish saying it, you have only “meh” on your lips. Yet another film where a couple realize they are in love and try all sorts of predictable ways to stop a wedding and predictably, the character on the receiving end accepts it with grace. The names Katrina Kaif and Ali Zafar do nothing to alleviate your slumber. It might have been farcical but the least the film could have done is to compose an ode to weddings in the process of trying to cancel another. Statutory Warning: Film can be injurious to memories of Dharmendra and Sholay.

Monsoon Wedding

An ensemble cast, razor sharp writing with individual stories that touch your heart and bravura performances makes this the best in the list, and if that’s not saying much, it is also one of Mira Nair’s best films. A confluence of characters – members of an extended family – come together from different parts of the world for a wedding that’s put together amidst considerable pain and effort. Set in the summer to monsoon transition, it navigates through the joys and predicaments of not only people of different age groups but also of people from different strata of society. The bittersweet Kawa Kawa sung by Sukhwinder Singh complimented the mood of the film – highlighting critical issues aided by a happy atmosphere of weddings, dancing, adolescent love etc. lending it a tragicomic feel. This film is worth revisits as it has veterans like Naseeruddin Shah, Khulbhushan Kharbanda, Roshan Seth sharing stage with the then up and coming character actors (and who became more mainstream than they were then) who starred in many memorable films of the past decade – Rajat Kapoor, Vijay Raaz, Shefali Shah, Lilette Dubey et al.


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