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Heroes of the Zeroes: Monsoon Wedding

by on July 20, 2010
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Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.

“Monsoon Wedding”
Rated R

Always a wedding planner, never a groom, P.K. Dubey (Vijay Raaz) would simply be dunderheaded comic relief in most wedding films — hitting it off with a hot bridesmaid during an end-credits reception dance.

In 2002’s “Monsoon Wedding,” Dubey is goofy, yes, but also socially awkward, achingly alone and worried he’ll forever remain that way. That’s just one example of the generous portions of delicacies served in this spicy feast of family drama and clashing-custom comedy from screenwriter Sabrina Dhawan and director Mira Nair.

Two families convene for an arranged marriage in New Delhi — the bride still dallying with a married man, the groom an Americanized businessman. Secrecy and sex surround the multi-day celebration, during which the bride’s father, Lalit (Naseeruddin Shah), must make a tough decision about a shameful family incident.

It’s impossible to remain unmoved by Lalit’s eventual courage, and surrender to “Monsoon’s” seductive heat is equally unavoidable. Dhawan avoids clichéd crutches of cultural comedy on hand in 2002’s Greek-wedding phenomenon, smartly wondering what marriage isn’t a risk, whether after a courtship of months or moments.

Not content to merely direct heavy traffic of intersecting characters, Nair never lets the constantly scurrying ensemble lag or their stories flag — from a vibrant mehndi party with henna painting and symbolic dance to Dubey’s stirring pursuit of a servant named Alice (Tillotama Shome).

Throw in a heart-fluttering musical score from Mychael Danna and a bustling Bollywood-pop soundtrack, and “Wedding” became one of the most culturally savory, joyously exotic comedies since “Strictly Ballroom.”