Cell phones and silk saris, dot-coms and arranged marriages--the latest film from Indian-born director Mira Nair (Salaam Bombay!, Mississippi Masala) captures the heady mix of old and new, rich and poor, traditional and modern that defines contemporary India. A sort of Father of the Bride set in New Delhi, it covers the four days leading up to the marriage of the pampered, twentysomething daughter of an upper-middle-class businessman. As friends and relatives descend upon the household, the harried father tries to control the uncontrollable: his wife's smoking, the intense heat and threatening rains and, above all, the escalating cost of the wedding. Fortunately he isn't aware that the bride is actually in love with another man. This past year's winner at the Venice Film Festival, Monsoon Wedding pulsates with music, dance, color and laughter, but also glows with quiet moments of drama. One near-fatal misstep, a character so stereotypically written as to be offensive, corrects itself when the character undergoes a totally unexpected, but believable, transformation. Despite the film's highly specific location and culture, the story, characters and emotions could not be more universal, making the film accessible to just about everybody.
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