Most Indian movies I've seen are Bollywood--with bright colours, sound stages, beautiful costumes, musical numbers, and melodramatic plots. What if a movie set in India had the desaturated colour palette, handheld camera, lack of musical numbers, and aimless dialogue typical of some western arthouse films? Such a film is 2001's Monsoon Wedding
, a film that successfully gives us a dull Indian family drama in the western mould.
The film follows the Verma family and their preparations in the days leading up to the marriage of Aditi, played by Vasundhara Das, who is very beautiful but doesn't give an especially interesting performance. She's having second thoughts about the wedding and might go back with an ex-boyfriend.
She doesn't have a lot of screen time because this is one of those big ensemble films that use their large casts to disguise the fact that no one of the many stories it has to tell is particularly interesting, the hope being that quantity will make up for quality.
The broadest subplot has a goofy construction worker falling in love with the Verma's household servant. He sees her trying on the jewellery of her employer and she's embarrassed when she's spotted, as such characters tend to be in the ten thousand other movies that have this scene.
The film seems to realise late in the proceedings that it's been spinning its wheels without getting anywhere so it hastily introduces a subplot about one of the male relatives molesting girls in the family. The film doesn't explore any of the psychological issues effecting the perpetrator or his victims, it's a plot point that's introduced to give the climax something out of the ordinary to deal with, then it's packed away, justice is served, and the credits roll.