If there is such a thing as “welcome cognitive dissonance,” the trailer for “Veere Di Wedding,” is a prime example of it.
Hearing “ooh, you slept with him?” come out of Kareena Kapoor Khan’s ageless face closely followed by Sonam Kapoor’s glorious utterance of “behenchod” to lament societal pressure to marry was…glorious.
One thing I should clarify right now: I am a proud, sometimes militant, flag-waving, card-carrying feminist. Being such a feminist, I have been looking forward to “Veere Di Wedding” ever since Sonam Kapoor started hyping it up on her Instagram last fall. We were promised a progressive, fun, egalitarian, and yes, feminist Hindi movie; that rarest of breeds, made only rarer by the fact that it was centered on female friendship.
Coming of age stories told in the Subcontinent almost always involve male protagonists, or a pair of siblings, or young love. Films that celebrate tight-knit female friendships a la Hollywood’s “Pitch Perfect,” “Blockers,” or “Mean Girls” usually don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting made. However, I am happy to report that “Veere Di Wedding” looks like it will prove itself the exception to those rules. Try as I might to manage my expectations, the joy of having myself truly represented in an Indian movie is unparalleled.
“Veere Di Wedding” is a coming of age story that features a close group of four friends: Kalindi, (Kareena Kapoor Khan) Avni, (Sonam Kapoor) Sakshi, (Swara Bhaskar) and Meera (Shikha Talsania.) They reunite for the wedding of the titular ‘Veere,’ aka Kalindi, when she is proposed to by her boyfriend.
As consistently adorable as Sumeet Vyas is, he is wonderfully secondary. What takes precedence over him is the depiction of four foul-mouthed, beer-swilling, independent, badass, modern feminist women trying to navigate life as best they can.
I have never felt more seen. Minus a spoiler that’s casually dropped in the trailer by Neena Gupta (playing Sonam’s mother,) this trailer is all I wanted and more. The protagonists try to maneuver through the Big Fat Indian Wedding, (and the institution of marriage in general,) and Kareena gives voice to the question brides have been asking themselves since time immemorial:
“Are we getting married for us or for these people [guests]?”
Women of different sizes, shapes, colors, and persuasions take center stage. Women. Not manic-pixie-dream girls, but real women. Gone is the Geet-esque archetype of heroine, and good riddance. These ladies seem three-dimensional, which is surely a credit to the fact that it is entirely helmed by women. Even without seeing the movie, I am rooting for screenwriters Nidhi Mehra and Mehul Suri, director Shashanka Ghosh (“Khoobsurat”), and producers that include Rhea Kapoor and Ekta Kapoor.
March 20, 2023March 21, 2023 4min readBy Nida Hasan
If you are a South Asian, born in the ’80s or the early ’90s, chances are your ideas of love and romance are heavily influenced by Hindi films — that first gaze, the secret love notes, that accidental meeting somewhere in Europe, over-the-top gestures and dancing around trees. While reality may have been far from what was promised on reel, you still can’t stop pining over a hopeless romantic, with chocolate boy looks, chasing you across the earth and many universes; in the life here and the ones after. Somewhere deep down, you still dream of that possibility despite your husband sitting and sipping his morning coffee right next to you. And much of the credit for weaving this dreamland, that we can’t resist happily sliding into, goes to the legendary Yash Chopra. Award-winning filmmaker Smriti Mundhra’s docu-series, “The Romantics,” that released on Netflix on February 14, chronicles Chopra’s prolific career; offering an illuminating look into the highs and lows of his journey, his unblemished vision for Hindi cinema and sheer love for filmmaking.
I wanted to look at Indian cinema through the lens of it being a major contributor to the global cinema canon and Yash Chopra seemed like the perfect lens to explore that because of the longevity of his career and the fact that he had worked across so many different genres. His films, for so many of us, defined what Hindi cinema is.
— Smriti Mundhra
As “The Romantics” unveils, in a mere episode — a challenging feat in itself — Chopra did experiment with multiple genres as a budding filmmaker, initially under the shadows of his elder brother B.R. Chopra. From the religiously sensitive “Dharamputra” and the trendsetting “Waqt” to the action-packed and iconic “Deewaar.” It wasn’t until later on in his career that he set a precedent for a Hindi film having a wholly romantic narrative; though “Waqt” did offer the perfect glimpse into what would go on to become Chopra’s cinematic imprint. And then came “Chandni” which ushered in a new era for Hindi cinema; defying the formulaic approach to box office success and making love stories the golden goose.
In the words of more than 30 famous faces, a host of archival videos and interviews, and personal anecdotes, audiences get an extensive insight into the life and career of Yash Chopra and the evolution of his vision through the business acumen and genius of his polar opposite son and a famous recluse, Aditya Chopra. “The Romantics” is not a fancy portrait of a legendary filmmaker but an exploration of what goes into making a successful film family and a path-breaking production house. As viewers, we not only get a peek into the making of a fantasy creator but also learn of the many failures, hurdles and uncertainties that the business of filmmaking comes packaged in, the impact of socio-political shifts on the kind of content being produced and demanded, and just how much control we have as an audience over the fate of the film and the filmmaker.
For both the uninitiated and fanatics, there are some interesting revelations like Shah Rukh Khan’s lifelong desire to become an action hero as opposed to a romantic one and the creative conflict between Aditya Chopra and his father Yash Chopra on the sets of “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge” — a project that, surprisingly, did not seem too promising to the latter. Mundhra penetrates deep into the family’s history and industry relationships evoking some really candid conversations; almost as if these celebs were eagerly waiting for their moment to speak. With one appraising interview after the other, it’s a panegyric that does border on being a tad tedious but there is enough depth and fodder in there to keep one hooked. Kudos to Mundhra for managing to achieve cohesion despite there being more than enough material to chew on. In the process of bringing this project to life, Mundhra also ends up achieving a number of milestones: one that the series features the last of actor Rishi Kapoor’s interviews and two, it brings Aditya Chopra, who, it appears, can talk a blue streak contrary to popular belief, to the front of the camera after almost two decades. The moment when he puts the nepotism debate to rest by referring to his brother’s catastrophic attempt at acting is quite the show-stealer.
At some point during the four-episode series, you might question if it’s fair to credit the Yash Raj family for being the only real changemakers of the Hindi film industry and for picking up the baton to get Hindi cinema the global recognition that it has. But then there is no denying the Chopra clan’s body of work, their ability to understand what pleases the crowd and their commitment towards growth and progress amidst changing times and technology — Yash Raj Studios is in fact the only privately held and one of the biggest, state-of-the-art film studios in India. Chopra’s career and legacy are in no way under-lit that Mundhra can claim to throw new light on with “The Romantics.” But what she really has on offer here are sheer nostalgia, some fascinating discoveries and an ode to a cinephile and his art with a bit of fan service.
In an interview with Brown Girl Magazine, Mundhra discusses why it was so important for Chopra to be the subject of her docu-series, her own learnings during the series’ research and creative process and her accomplishment of getting Aditya Chopra to talk, and that too, at length.