DVD review: Monsoon Wedding

Rating: ***1/2



MONSOON WEDDING (2001). Seeing the moldy expression “feel-good” in relation to a motion picture frequently has the ability to generate heartburn, but how else to describe this joyous work from Mira Nair, the director of The Namesake and Mississippi Masala? A picture as full of emotion as the traditional ceremony it celebrates, Monsoon Wedding uses the title event as the backdrop for a work that, among other things, delineates the struggle between “old” and “new” India, examines the compromises that individuals must perform for the sake of family sanctity, and, in the tradition of Father of the Bride, takes a gently comic look at the headaches brought on by pulling the whole thing together. Naseeruddin Shah is cast in the equivalent of the Spencer Tracy role, as the family patriarch who must contend with all sorts of old-fashioned strife in new-fangled Delhi as he coordinates the union of his thoroughly modern daughter (Vasundhara Das) to a handsome man (Parvin Dabas) flying in from Houston to take part in this arranged marriage. Characters come and go, tense situations alternately explode or dissipate, and secrets are uncovered — yet through it all, most of these ingratiating folks invariably manage to do what’s best for themselves and for the family unit. Vijay Raaz steals the film as a wedding planner whose obnoxiousness gets vaporized by true love, and there’s an infectious soundtrack that may warrant an immediate trip to Amazon.com’s music section.

Extras in the two-disc DVD set include audio commentary by Nair; a 22-minute conversation between Nair and Shah; an 11-minute conversation between director of photography Declan Quinn and production designer Stephanie Carroll; and seven of Nair’s shorts (four fiction pieces, three documentaries), ranging in length from 9 minutes to an hour.

Movie: ***1/2

Extras: ***

To purchase this movie, check out its listing on Amazon.com.