Monsoon Wedding Diversity and Conflicts in Love and Families in Modern Dehli
Outline • General Introduction: the Director Mira Nair • Starting Questions • Monsoon Wedding: main idea • Love in Modern India • Punjabi Families • Wedding and Sensual Enjoyment of Life • City, Race and Class • The film’s connections with “Gainda” and “Her Mother”
Mira Nair • Born in Orissa, went to Dehli U. and Harvard • 11 years in Uganda, now in New York. • Started with documentaries（記錄片）; • Salaam Bombay!早安孟買 －－ Camera d‘Or at Cannes坎城金棕櫚大獎in 1988 and an Academy Award nomination • Mississippi Masala: America as a big Masala, conflicts between the two specific group of diaspora(離散族群), Afro-Americans and Indians. Note: masala為重口味香料; Bollywood film is called masala film
Mira Nair (2) Vanity Fair (2004) (浮華世界) Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1996) 性典 –very controversial
Mira Nair (3) and Deepa Mehta The Namesake (2006) Amelia (2009) Deepa Mehta – Earth, Water, Fire The Republic of Love (2003) Heaven on Earth (2008)
Nair on Monsoon Wedding • dedicates “Monsoon Wedding,” to her Punjabi family in New Delhi (新德里), • "We Punjabi are the butt of many jokes, for we are an aggressive, loud people, peasant people, known for our lusty appetite for life. The Punjabis are to India what the Italians are to Europe. The film is an homage to major vulgarity," she laughed. • 獻給Punjabi家人。Punjabi 積極、聲音大、土包子，對生命的胃口很大。 • (source: http://www.mirabaifilms.com/articles.html )
Nair on Monsoon Wedding • hand-held camera; 手持攝影機，以呈現印度的多樣性。 • “Mostly to achieve mobility（活動性） and fluidity（流動性） that would link the multiplicity of Indian life, the hybridity（雜多）that is in our music, our location and our languages. India is a fantastic place because we have opened our doors to people from all over the world - before the British, after the British - and now, with American globalization. We absorb, we borrow, we assimilate, we plagiarize and we steal, and somehow twist it all to make something that is inimitably Indian."This is the mood I wanted to capture in the multilayered stories, and this kind of camera can take us fluidly from a five-star hotel to the crowded streets of old Delhi; it's a way to link the family's intimate drama to the world.“ (source: ( http://www.mirabaifilms.com/articles.html )
Monsoon Wedding --trivia • Exhausting 30-day heat and dust schedule. • 20-day workshop (with Yoga in the morning), 10-day shooting, with professional actors, starting actors mixed with non-professionals and relatives. • About four scenes were damaged at the customs by X-Ray. Only one (the dancing scene) was restored at a very large price (paid by the insurance). The other three were re-shot. When re-shooting the scenes, she got more of Dehli street scenes into her film. • Her family participated by delivering home cooking to the set each day. • A lot of paintings, costumes, furniture were on loan from the family. • Lalit—modeled after her brother. Varun—her cousin.
The Bride’s family: The Groom: Mohan Rai & Saroj Rai Hemant Rai Verma family Lalit & Pimmi Older Brother who died Sona, Uday Veena Aditi Varun Ria Ayesha Aliya The Characters Tej Old neighbor Sashi & C.L. Chadha Rahul & Umang
Starting Questions • It’s an enjoyable film, isn’t it? What do you like best about the film? Is there anything you don’t like? • Love & Arranged Marriage: Undoubtedly this is a comedy, but why are there troublesome, sad, dangerous and even sinister elements lurking here and there in it? How many kinds of love are there in the film? • Singing and the Sensual Enjoyment of Life: The singing and dancing is quite enjoyable, too. Have you noticed how many people sing in this film and the occasions in which they do so? • Customs and Class: What do you think about the wedding, which lasts for many days? Would you like to be in the bride’s position?
Monsoon Wedding: presentsa comic version of Love of many kinds, Indian families of different cultures sensual pleasures and contradictions and possible dangers in life and society.
Monsoon Wedding • 威尼斯影展金獅獎 • Plot: The wedding of Aditi Verma, the result of arranged marriage, concerns everyone in the family, but not Aditi herself, who cannot separate herself from her ex-lover. • The main characters: five women with their families and the men connected with them. From Left to Right: Aditi, Ria, Ayesha, Alyia, Alice
Theme I: Love of many kinds • The beginning scenes--Lalit’s nervous arrangement of the wedding and Aditi’s going to a TV studio--sets the tone of the film: that in modern India, different people hold different views on love. (Arranged marriage is still popular, but pornography, adult films [A 片] and extra-marital affairs are, too.)
A good match: -- A beautiful girl in Dehli, matched with a handsome computer engineer from Houston, Texas. -- Hemant is able to understand her hurt feelings and that marriage is a risk, whether arranged or not. with dangerous moves: -- arranged marriage; -- meeting her ex-lover the night before wedding; -- Police investigation Vikram, actually does not want to give up his marriage at all. Love (1): Aditi Verma,Hemant Rai, Vikram Mehta
After the parents expressed their love for the children (at night), While the mother prepares dowry (sari and silver forks and spoons) for Aditi, Aditi goes out; Ayesha tries to seduce Rahul. The bride and groom talk about breaking up. The Ironies
A good match -- Presented as Romantic and Miraculous: Marigold (金盞橘) --both like to eat it—Dubey eats it whole, and Alice, its heart. (see next page) The slow motion (*chap 1—11:30) Exchanges – water, names and name card. With difficultes Alice thought of as a thief. (chap 4—44:30) Neither of them knows how to express their love—until at the end Dubey performs his romantic act. –unreal? Love (2): Alice (the maid) & P.K.Dubey (tent contractor) Note: Marigold--古埃及人認為它有醫療上的價值；印度人用它來裝飾廟宇；波斯和希臘人用它增加食物的色澤和風味；在美國內戰時，戰地醫師曾用它的葉片來治療傷口。在歐美的沙拉中，它也扮演了增色的效果。可幫助女性生理期間擁有清爽自由的心情，與其他花茶或茶類搭配，可增加花色燦爛的觀感 。
Dubey and Alice –Flower 31:20
When Alice serves water, Dubey cannot show his emotion among his co-workers. Alice appears to be brighter when she helps Dubey fixes the wire. Love (2): Alice & P.K.Dubey—The Contradictory or Humorous In Gender Relation— 性別關係
Dubey –the most romantic way Dubey the practical – a man on the move, very practical when it comes to money. (10:20; 38:26) -- quite coarse; smelling the flowers with their plastic covers on. Love (2): Alice & P.K.Dubey—The Contradictory or Humorous
Ayesha -- sexy and seductive in approaching Rahul Chadha (from Australia) With pride in her self and her culture. When Rahul finally dances energetically to the Bhangra music, she says, “We‘ve finally made an Indian of you.” Why does she leave at the point of love-making? To be tantalizing （吊胃口） or self-restraining? Love (3): the contradictory Ayesha Verma
Love (4, 5): Ria Verma, Aliya Verma & Tej Puri • The dangerous element exposed — Tej, who appears to be a respectable gentleman. • The danger gets revealed by and by • Ria looks surprised and uneasy when first seeing Tej; • Ria does not thank Tej upon hearing his offer to pay for her studies; • Ria interrupts Tej’s feeding Aliya; • Aliya’s talking about kissing;
Love (4, 5): Ria Verma, Aliya Verma & Tej Puri A tragedy of sexual abuse could have happened—had Ria not stopped it by revealing her own traumatic experience. (Who’s to blame, the adults’ negligence? The wedding?)
The Other Couples: Lalit Verma & Pimmi Verma • Old-Shoe love: argument, little sex, but a lot of mutual comfort and understanding.
Verma family Lalit & Pimmi Older Brother who died Sonia, Uday Veena Aditi Varun Ria Ayesha Aliya Theme (2)The Upper Class Families • Different degree of westernization – golf, rockyoli (?whisky on the rocks) • “Bollywood goes to upper class families” Tej Rai Old neighbor Sashi & C.L. Chadha Rahul & Umang
The Families (1): Punjabi family • Close-Knit but spread in many places; • Patriarchal (male-centered), but with strong women. • Family meeting (24:06) shows a Punjabi family and their traditional values: • Supportive of (or intervening into) Ria’s decision, which should be her personal business; • Marriage more important than having a career; • materialistic (winning Booker Prize 英國的布克獎means getting a million dollars).
The Family Members: (1) Lalit • Lalit as a patriarchal – • loving, critical, bossy, seeming to be in command of everything. (e.g. calls Rahul “idiot” all the time; blames his brother for being late, scolds Varun, too); • Traditional– does not like Varun’s interest in cooking and dancing. “Why don’t you play some crickets?” • Cares a lot about his family, but has to re-define ‘family togetherness’ by ejecting Tej (another patriarch) out of respect for his niece’s feelings. (chap 9) • Weak inside –worried about money; blame his wife for his own upsetting Varun (“Why don’t you say something?”)
Unhappy about Lalit’s scolding Rahul. Come back from Middle-East, so in gaudy dress. Rahul –in Australia; Umang in the U.S. The Family Members(2): C.L.Chadha & Shashi Chadha
The wild and a bit coarse: Uxorious (怕太太的) luxorious, 應該是 luxurious. The British and the elegant: The Family Members (3):
Theme (3): Wedding -- Formalities & the sensual pleasures Wedding: • Negative: • Time consuming and expensive (as Lalit has to loan money from his friends) • Nerve-wrecking. (With Lalit shouting at Dubey all the time, and Pimmi smoking in the restroom to ease her tension.) • In all the tiring rituals, sometimes the bride and bridegroom look a bit like puppets (傀儡). Hemann says he is asked to ‘eat’ all the time, and Aditi says she only wants to sleep. The bride, especially, gets burdened with jewelry on the day of the wedding.
Wedding –The Elaborate Ceremony • Gift-Exchange, meeting the elderly and wearing jewelry
Wedding –The Elaborate Ceremony 2. Eating something sweet, 3. Preparation: buying sari, setting up the tent for an outdoor wedding
Wedding –The Elaborate Ceremony • The bridegroom’s riding a horse, with the guests throwing marigold at the procession; • The wedding garland
Wedding –The Elaborate Ceremony • Fire for purification and praying for felicity. Tying a knot: 連理
Theme (3):Wedding & the sensual pleasures Wedding: • Positive: • an occasion for family reunion, photo-taking, paying respect to the dead. • Beautiful singing (53:33) • Hand painting ceremony (mehindi) • A song about a bride’s leaving. • Other occasions for singing: • Singing at the dinner table of the family reunion; • The tent-workers sing to tease Dubey.
Wedding –The Communal Celebration • * chap 5 – please pay attention to • The color arrangement of this group of women; • How they sing happily with a song and tell jokes with sexual connotations; • How Alice, as a maid, cannot join or enjoy the singing.
Wedding: the Sensual Enjoyment of Life • Sangeet: a night of dancing and singing (till early morning) potential danger
Wedding: the Sensual Enjoyment of Life • The wedding procession and the guests dancing in the rain, seemingly breaking the class boundaries.
Theme (4):City, Class and Race • The film is an expression of love for Dehli as a postcolonial global city, as we can see from the many city scenes in it. • However, we should not ignore the possible problems regarding gender, class and race lurking beneath its apparent merriness. • Gender –discussed, arranged marriage and sexual abuse. • Class and Race: Dubey and Alice as examples.
Dehli as A Postcolonial Global City • “postcolonial” –partition and the migration of Lalit family to Dehli, cricket • “global” migration – children back from Melbourne, US; and Chadha family to the Middle East • Signs of the postmodern – a TV show with explicit sex talk, cell phone and email, (Note: reflecting “the social and cultural transformation India has undergone since 1991, when a new economic policy eliminated the bureaucratic red tape restricting imports and foreign investment [Sharpe 58])
Dehli – An Interesting Mess like Taipei? • The Crowd, polluted air, electric wire and cows
Street Scenes--Diversity • The traditional (market place, bicycle rickshaws) • and the new (boulevard)
Street Scenes--Diversity • The traditional (old Dehli, the kite festival, women carrying sand baskets) • and the new (golf park in New Dehli)
Street Scenes--Diversity Two kinds of bulletin board: Bollywood (Indian) and Modern (International)
Street Scenes--Diversity The spiritual (meditator), the cute (kid), as well as the disturbing (sexist).
Class and Race: Dubey–his Social Mobility Event management
Dubey–his Confinement (1: 15:56) Framed: By the walls, the gate and his mother’s nagging.
Dubey and Alice: Still Confined to their Class • The mirror scene: framed by male gaze With all the dignity and intelligence, Alice is always confined—by her class and by her gender. (chap 4—44:30) e.g. gaze at the mirror, peeped at by the other men.
Dubey and Alice: Still Confined to their Class • Geographical, Class and Religious differences: The cross (with marigold) in her room. Alice: a Christian from Bihar Dubey: a Hindi He has an Hindi name—very long. Note: Bihar -- most underdeveloped state with the lowest per capita income in the nation (Sharpe 75)
Dubey and Alice: Still Confined to their Class • The final scene—Lalit embracing Dubey and dancing with Alice too good to be true? • post-1990s Indian films –emphasizes “the gloss” • “The rural exists in the post-1990s films not as a geographical location so much as a signifier for a simpler way of life prior to globalization” (Sharpe 60).
The film’s connections with “Gainda”“Her Mother” and Us • Family relations, women’s position both “Gainda” and “Her Mother” • The life of a maid servant, wedding and love beyond one’s class identity “Gainda” • The relationship between oversea Indians and their parents “Her Mother.” • How is the film related to us? • Besides getting to know the diversity and possible conflicts in modern India, we can turn around and examine the wedding ceremonies, family structures, racial conflicts in our cities and society. Do our Filipino maids get as much dignity as Alice in the film? Are there elements in our wedding ceremonies and marriages which can energize and enrich our lives, instead of being just tedious rituals and endless eating?