Synopsis – Four girls on their way to find true love discover that friendship this strong has its consequences.
My Take – While Bollywood films have had a long history of male ensembles, in recent years, women-centric films like Lipstick Under My Burkha, Angry Indian Goddesses and Parched among others, have found their targeted ‘feminist’ audience, but director Shashanka Ghosh is trying something else here. Instead, it’s unapologetic and brash when it comes to the core message of the film. It proves that the women in any comedy film can be as much funny and jovial as men, in fact with this film maybe a little more! At first glance, there is a lot to like here, gorgeous girls, their all-heart camaraderie and some picturesque locations.
However, when this Sex and the City meets every Hollywood chick flick inspired film, is at its finest, it brings the house down, rest of the time, it just suffers from the lack of a sound plot. Yes, there are some moments of sheer brilliance, but they are few and far between. It is sad that this could have been a gal pal film as the next Dil Chahta Hai. But here the protagonists are privileged and shallow, their engagement with the world is limited to failed relationships. Yes, in terms of humor, films works sometimes well, but it stutters when it comes to the emotional conflicts, which feel unreal and contrived. This film could have been a powerful comment on gender equality, but it’s all just largely mediocre, supported by a few fantastic firsts but like they say nothing works when the film doesn’t. Director Shashanka Ghosh, who earlier helmed the average remake Khoobsurat, tries too hard with this one.
The story follows Kalindi Puri (Kareena Kapoor Khan), Avni Sharma (Sonam Kapoor Ahuja), Sakshi Soni (Swara Bhasker) and Meera Sood (Shikha Talsania), four together-since-school kind of buddies. They call themselves Veeres meaning brothers and share this immortal bond with each other. Fast forward ten years, Avni has become a divorce lawyer who can handle tough clients in court but is unable to counter the incessant nagging of her mother (Neena Gupta) about finding a suitable boy and settling down, while Sakshi along with being a drunk is also struggling with her divorce and Meera is happily married, with a young kid and living in America, but estranged from her conservative Indian family all because they refused to accept her white husband, John.
But when Kalindi’s partner of three years, Rishabh (Sumeet Vyas) proposes to her, she is unable to reject, despite her reservations about the institution of marriage. In order to help her survive her overbearing future in-laws and her own broken family, her friends rally around her. However, the wedding celebration brings out skeletons from the closet, along with a number of unspoken truths and even some harsh realities.
This all-girl ensemble comedy had all the potential for being another unconventional film on friendship, but it turns out to be disappointing like no other. While the characters certainly seem real with them being dysfunctional, not so perfect; but shallowness in the screenplay did not do justice to the characters. Occasionally it did appear that the film is picking up, but it did not sustain for long. Even the conflicts introduced in the film were not given much attention. Probably the intention was right, that is to come up with a film, where girls have a life which is absolutely liberating for them, but the plot gets contrived, built up and messed up. It’s hard not to notice the similarities with Sex and the City, like the outrageous clothes, the profanity, the incessant discussions about men, and the friendship between the women that form the basis for the show, director Ghosh and his leading cast make enough adjustments to Indianize the film, bringing in elements like interfering in-laws, ostentatious Indian weddings and pushy mothers who want their daughters to either get married or stay married, but at its heart, this is an Indian redux.
Writers Nidhi Mehra and Mehul Suri have penned this story which deals with some genuine problems. The only problem with those problems is, they’re very unrelatable to many out there. There are four parallel tracks running in the film and everything gets tangled to each other after a point of time. But what comes out most jarring is the director’s attempt to define the modern woman with these attributes alone. Surely these talented women could have been given a better plot, a panoply of substance where they can hammer out their joys, their fears, their grievances? And send out a message to others on how not to be anything, including apologetic. What we get is a lot of male bashing, unapologetic. It would seem four seemingly smart, rich and urban women would have something else to talk about, but in director Ghosh’s world, all they do is think about men and marriage.
It’s as if the film refuses to have any emotional depth only because it fears that its protagonists might have to talk about something other than men. It seems to think having four women in a frame is more than enough; so naturally the film’s plot is dismissed even more offhandedly than their conflicts or talk about money. They talk about how everyone is only taking about getting married, they crib about how society only wants them to get married, they discuss their own wedding expectations all this while rolling their eyes, swearing to their hearts content, laughing, drinking but not moving an inch from the wedding topic.
Also, for some reason, everything and everyone in director Shashank Ghosh’s film exists to remind and prepare us for this huge, big fat Punjabi wedding – from the opening flashback sequence with the four best friends in school uniforms talking about the wedding to 10 years later still hovering around wedding shedding! When the moment of conflict finally arrives, they four suddenly go on a patch-up trip to Phuket to discuss Rishabh, Vineet, and John. They watch the sunset but also try calling Rishabh. They go drinking but hear Kalindi drunk-crying about how much she loves Rishabh. They go for breakfast and discuss Sakshi being blackmailed by Vineet. Funnily enough, the one scene where two female characters in the film are not talking about men, they’re talking about a brand placement: “Air India is always on time”.
Yes, the dialogues are hilarious in parts, some songs are soothing but the film, overall, doesn’t make much an impact. For the audience it attempts to win over, it’s neither novel nor path breaking content. Even as a desi version, operating from the belief system that these are real regular women we know with relatable issues – sexless marriages, over intruding in-laws, paranoid-about-shaadi parents, the narrative crawls towards a climax that looks hurried. One the subtler aspects of the script is the way in which the relationship between parents and children pans out. There’s a delightful scene where Sakshi finally tells her parents the truth about her marital problems and the unexpected reaction is what subverts the status quo. It’s moments like that which lifts the film from a fashion show to a slice of life film. A sub-plot involving Kalindi’s gay uncle (Vivek Mushran) ends up being far more empowering than the achievements of the heroines, who remain slaves to their vanity kits and costume designers.
One can’t help but think that in the hands of a different director the onscreen happenings might have found some deeper meaning. Thankfully, the film seems fresh thanks to the good production values, which haven’t been compromised at any level. On the face of it, the film appears good with some interesting ensemble of actors. Fortunately, the four lead actresses meld together seamlessly. The genuine camaraderie and bonding between the leading ladies is frankly the best thing about the film imbuing it with fun and warmth. They laugh and cry together and stay united through good times and bad. Kareena Kapoor Khan, wins your heart, as the commitment phobic Kalandi. She looks like a million bucks, and you get her pain of being tied down and feeling lost and hopeless. And then with her is the dependable Sumeet Vyas, rightly funny with his boyish charm casting a spell. Evidently the writers centered the story around this particular character, making others quite caricaturist.
Sonam Kapoor Ahuja is her usual herself, continuing her act from Aisha, I Hate Love Story and Khoobsurat. She looks pretty in designer clothes styled by her sister-cum-producer Rhea Kapoor and other designers. Swara Bhaskar and Shikha Talsania get all the best dialogue because they are not saddled with emotional tracks like the other two leading ladies. The two have immense fun shooting off their potty-mouths at regular intervals and playing along with the film’s anything-goes quality. They nail the comedic tone the film tries too hard to deliver, unlike the other characters, whose individual efforts are eclipsed by the relentless goings-on. The film also has a good line up of supporting casts like Neena Gupta, Anjum Rajabali, Manoj Pahwa, Vivek Mushran, Ayesha Raza, Alka Kaushal, Ekavali Khanna, Sukesh Arora, and Vishwas Kinni, who are all good with their performances. On the whole, ‘Veere Di Wedding‘ is an average cliché-ridden film with breezy characters and a missing plot.
Directed – Shashanka Ghosh
Rated – PG15
Run Time – 120 minutes