Review: In ‘Monsoon Wedding,’ an Arranged Marriage of Musical Styles (2023)


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Mira Nair’s 2001 movie about a couple brought together by their families becomes a song-filled pageant, with mixed results.

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Review: In ‘Monsoon Wedding,’ an Arranged Marriage of Musical Styles (1)
(Video) MONSOON WEDDING Trailer (2001) - The Criterion Collection

By Jesse Green

Monsoon Wedding

In musicals, the marriage of elements is everything. A story that’s too thin will dissolve when mixed with the songs. A story that’s too heavy won’t let the songs lift off. To get the right fizzy blend, the balance must be perfect.

That is not yet the case with Mira Nair’s “Monsoon Wedding,” which opened Monday in an always busy, sometimes touching, but strangely mild production at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn. Its shambolic plot lines (drawn from Nair’s 2001 film of the same name) and Indian-pop-meets-marching-band songs, though full of interest individually, fail to build on themselves or one another, leaving the intertwined tale of love and obligation to unravel as fast as it spins.

Not that the movie was a landmark of pith. The arranged marriage of the rich “South Delhi girl” Aditi Verma (played here by Salena Qureshi) and the U.S.-raised Hemant Rai (Deven Kolluri) was but one strand of a multifamily, multigenerational tale arranged in a riotous collage of small, colorful scenes. It didn’t matter how many went nowhere; the editing was all.

The musical tries to maintain that quick-cut effect while also squeezing the material into a traditional musical theater format. Nair told The New York Times she’d been inspired by the example of “Fiddler on the Roof,” a classic that, like “Monsoon Wedding,” encompasses one family’s marital chaos as part of a community’s encounter with tradition and change.

But “Fiddler” was adapted from a collection of short stories about a strong central character, not from a movie about many. The difference shows. The musical’s book, by Arpita Mukherjee and Sabrina Dhawan, is all over the place, and as staged by Nair on an abstract courtyard set by Jason Ardizzone-West, you rarely know where that is. The production seems to think in camera terms, as if a lens were still directing the audience’s attention when in fact nothing is.

(Video) Cinemoments: Monsoon Wedding


I’m not sure anything could. Along with the frenzy of assembling the enormous celebration, the musical, like the film, encompasses a secondary comic romance between Dubey, the wedding planner, and Alice, the Vermas’s put-upon maid. The marriage of Aditi’s parents (Gagan Dev Riar and Palomi Ghosh) also gets a look, as do the romantic ideas of a tweenish cousin and a gayish brother, would-be in-laws, other relatives, local workers and (it sometimes seems) all of Delhi.

Nair does create musical-like texture by pulling some of these stories forward while pushing others back. The problem that threatens Aditi’s marriage — she is not yet over her affair with a married man — is recessed so far it essentially disappears upstage, depriving the crisis of serious tension. In its place we get the milder problem of deracination, since she will have to move to Hemant’s home in the States: Can she learn to love New Jersey?

The problem that threatens the marriage of Dubey (Namit Das) and Alice (Anisha Nagarajan) has on the other hand been upgraded from almost indecipherable in the movie to very serious indeed: In a country born in bitter partition, ethnic or religious divides of any sort — he’s Hindu and she’s Christian — can be harrowing. The resolution is facile (“the heart never tells a lie”) but at least it’s in a song.

That song, sung by Dubey’s mother (Sargam Ipshita Bali) to her overwrought son, is lovely, one of the few with a clear personality among 22 in a score that too often feels like a collection of snippets. In one, the gorgeous “Madhaniyan,” Aditi’s father bids her farewell on the eve of the marriage, pulling the same strings as “Far From the Home I Love” in “Fiddler.” (Well, not quite the same strings; the excellent eight-person band is highlighted by a sitar.)

But gorgeous or not, the score (music by Vishal Bhardwaj, lyrics by Masi Asare and Susan Birkenhead) is, like the script, all over the place. When the style, whether American or Indian, occasionally matches the characters and situation, the alignment makes the moment pop. An absurd production number called “Chuk Chuk” (for the sound a train makes as Dubey chases one to win Alice) sounds straight out of Bollywood, and with its cinematic projections (by David Bengali) and frenetic choreography (by Shampa Gopikrishna) it fits the dramatic moment in a way that excuses its utter lack of logic. A white horse is involved.


Otherwise, the musicalization feels both too assertive and too inconclusive, like a parade passing by. (There are rarely buttons on the songs to tell you they’re done, leaving the audience wondering whether to applaud.) Only in one song is there a concerted approach to the dramatic experience. The song involves Aditi’s orphaned cousin Ria, raised with her as a sister. Serious and studious, Ria (Sharvari Deshpande) plans to attend New York University, mostly as a way of escaping the marital expectations that Aditi, a pampered princess — “even your panties are ironed” — is all too willing to meet.

That Ria is also escaping a social atmosphere that tolerates the sexual abuse of girls is a theme that Nair emphasizes much more strongly here than in the film. But powerful as this is, especially in Deshpande’s performance, it is also destabilizing. It’s hard to make the leap from her late-Act II outcry, “Be a Good Girl,” to the happy ending, complete with exquisite saris (by Arjun Bhasin), a celebratory remix and the requisite double wedding.

(Video) Wedding Season | Official Trailer | Netflix

How Ria became the central figure here — hers is the only solo number in the show — is a bit of a mystery, as if “Fiddler” decided to put Chava, the disowned daughter, above the title. Longer scenes (some are just three lines) might have helped explain the change, or shift our expectations in a show called “Monsoon Wedding” to the character who specifically doesn’t want to get married.

Still, you have to be grateful that Ria has elicited from the authors their most powerful writing. In “Leaving Means Returning,” sung to her by Aditi’s father, a lyric encapsulates in a beautiful phrase the tempting if ambivalent embrace of family: “We are your comfort and your courtyard.” Just so, genre is a place of safety but also a kind of prison. “Monsoon Wedding” does not quite escape either.

Monsoon Wedding
Through June 25 at St. Ann’s Warehouse, Brooklyn; Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes.

A correction was made on

May 23, 2023


An earlier version of this article referred incorrectly to the character who sings “Leaving Means Returning.” He is Aditi’s father, who raised Ria, not Ria’s stepfather.

How we handle corrections

Jesse Green is the chief theater critic for The Times. His latest book is “Shy,” with and about the composer Mary Rodgers. He is also the author of a novel, “O Beautiful,” and a memoir, “The Velveteen Father.” @JesseKGreen

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What is the message of the monsoon wedding? ›

The parents of the bride feel the competing demands of intimacy and distance, both with each other and with their children. Despite these tensions, the overriding theme of the movie is that family love is able to transcend these challenges and make things whole.

Where does Hemant live in Monsoon Wedding? ›

There is of course the potential love between the bride, Aditi Verma (Salena Qureshi) and Hemant Rai (Deven Kolluri.) Both seem unlikely candidates for an arranged marriage, yet here they are. Hemant graduated from Princeton, works for Morgan Stanley, and lives in Hoboken, N.J.

What yellow item does Dubey the event planner manager eat in monsoon wedding? ›

Theirs is the only pure and completely unexpected love story in the film, echoed by their bizarre shared habit of eating the core of marigolds - the Indian wedding flower" ("Monsoon Wedding, A New Film by Mira Nair").

Who directed monsoon wedding? ›

Monsoon Wedding, book by Arpita Mukherjee and Sabrina Dhawan, music by Vishal Bhardwaj, lyrics by Masi Asare and Susan Birkenhead. Directed by Mira Nair.

What does monsoon rain symbolize? ›

Monsoon is not just a word, but a metaphor for hope, peace, celebration, adventure etc.

What is the summary of the poem monsoon? ›

Ruskin only said that it could have been a paradise The rain marked the arrival of animals like leopard and thousands of leaks . The leopard lifted a dog from the servant's quarter below the school . Since the rains were there , the insect eating birds had no dearth of food.

What type of wedding is taking place in monsoon wedding? ›

Monsoon Wedding is a 2001 comedy-drama film directed by Mira Nair, written by Sabrina Dhawan, and starring Naseeruddin Shah, Lillete Dubey, Shefali Shah and Vasundhara Das. The story depicts romantic entanglements during a traditional Punjabi Hindu wedding in Delhi.

Who does Aditi marry in monsoon wedding? ›

The families have arranged a marriage between the young woman Aditi Verma and Hemant Rai, an up-and-coming banker from New Jersey.

What does Dubey give to Alice? ›

Courtesy Mirabai Films. The marigold flowers with which Dubye decorates the Verma mansion aren't merely decorative. Dubey loses his heart to live-in domestic worker Alice, and begins to absently nibble on the flowers whenever he thinks of her. He has had his first taste of love.

Why does the bride wear yellow? ›


The auspiciousness of this ingredient and its colour ushers in a life of prosperity for the couple, who are starting off their new life together. This is why in many cultures, the bride and groom wear yellow clothes on their wedding day as well.

What is typical Indian wedding food? ›

Paneer dishes like saag paneer and muttar paneer, along with kofta curries like aloo kofta, will make the rest of your North Indian spread extra decadent. For South Indian weddings, expect to have many different rice dishes on hand along with a variety of sabzis and maybe even dosa.

Who is Tej Puri in monsoon wedding? ›

Rajat Kapoor: Tej Puri.

Why is monsoon wedding rated R? ›

Movie Details

MPAA explanation: language, including some sex-related dialogue.

Who is Alice in monsoon wedding? ›

Monsoon Wedding (2001) - Tillotama Shome as Alice - IMDb.

Who was the vocalist in monsoon? ›

Monsoon was an early 1980s UK world/pop trio that consisted of singer Sheila Chandra, record producer Steve Coe, and bass guitarist Martin Smith. Their song "Ever So Lonely" was a number 12 hit single in the UK Singles Chart in 1982.

Why are they called monsoon? ›

In fact, the name "monsoon" is derived from the Arabic word "mausim" which means "season" or "wind-shift". Again, for India, during the winter dry period, the airflow comes from high pressure to the north—the dry Himalayas and Siberia.

What are the three lines about monsoon season? ›

1) The rainy season is the monsoon season which starts in the month of June and lasts till September. 2) Rainy Season starts in the southern part of India with the onset of southwest monsoon wind. 3) July and August are the rainiest months in the rainy season.

What emotions are associated with monsoon? ›

The monsoon is the season of pouring rain and intense emotions: love and longing, hope and fear, pleasure and pain, devotion and joyous excess.

What is the synopsis of a monsoon of music? ›

A bright young student, a globetrotting star, and a highly respected married couple—each deeply immersed in the tradition of Hindustani classical music. A Monsoon of Music tells the story of these four musicians whose lives intersect in the small mofussil town of Tamulbari on the banks of the Brahmaputra.

What is the main idea of the poem after the rain? ›

The central theme of the poem is that 'every ending is a new beginning'. There's always a new beginning, a fresh start waiting for us at every stage of our lives. After every rain, comes a new rainbow and a new sunshine. Hope this information will clear your doubts about topic.

What does the author highlight in the lesson the short monsoon diary? ›

The author describes the flora and fauna during the monsoon in Mussoorie. He wrote these experiences day-wise. 24th June is the first day of the monsoon mist. The mist has covered the hills and also quietened the birds.

What type of ritual is a wedding? ›

Marriage ceremonies include symbolic rites, often sanctified by a religious order, which are thought to confer good fortune on the couple.

What are the four categories for four weddings? ›

On Four Weddings, the bride-judges use words like "traditional," "unique," and "simple" to describe weddings that are "good," while "bad" weddings are "cookie-cutter," "tacky," and "selfish." All these adjectives reflect the culturally determined expectations of what a wedding should and shouldn't be.

What are the 2 types of wedding? ›

In general there are two types: civil marriage and religious marriage, and typically marriages employ a combination of both (religious marriages must often be licensed and recognized by the state, and conversely civil marriages, while not sanctioned under religious law, are nevertheless respected).

Was Aditi in love with Avi? ›

In the film, Aditi was shown to love Avi (Aditya Roy Kapur), but it goes unrequited. Later, she marries Taran and settles down.

Does pakhi and adhik get married? ›

Anupamaa: Adhik and Pakhi marry each other without the elders' consent.

Who does Aditi end up with? ›

He also receives a wedding invitation from Aditi, informing him that she is marrying a wealthy engineer, Taran Khanna.

What does Alice have to slay? ›

In this version of the story, Alice returns to Wonderland and must slay the Jabberwock on the Frabjous Day in order to save Wonderland.

What mental health does Alice have? ›

zooming at some topics of this novel, we come up to understand that Little Alice suffers from Hallucinations and Personality Disorders, the White Rabbit from General Anxiety Disorder “I'm late”, the Cheshire Cat is schizophrenic, as he disappears and reappears distorting reality around him and subsequently driving ...

What is the secret dear Alice is to? ›

The secret, dear Alice, is to surround yourself with people who make your heart smile. It is then, and only then, that you will find the wonderland. The Mad Hatter - America's best pics and videos.

What does a purple bride mean? ›

As such, today the wedding color meaning of purple is royalty and nobility, wealth and luxury, power and ambition.

Why is the bride's face covered? ›

The veil came to symbolize modesty and obedience. In many religions it is seen as a symbol of reverence for women to cover their heads. When white wedding dresses were worn to symbolize chastity, the white veil followed suit.

Why do brides have to wear blue? ›

Blue is the color of love, purity, faithfulness, and modesty. To keep with tradition, the bride can wear a blue piece of jewelry.

What is the average gift for an Indian wedding? ›

The traditional wedding gift is money, which is regarded as the most thoughtful gift for the couple to start their lives together. This is better done by placing money in a pretty envelope or embroidered bag, along with your best wishes.

Who pays for what in an Indian wedding? ›

Who pays for an Indian wedding? It's mostly split between the couple and their parents, 50/50. Sometimes however, if one side is insisting on more guests or extra fanfare, then those costs are adjusted.

What is the most common wedding meal? ›

Plated Sit-Down Dinner

The most traditional reception style, a plated meal is what the majority of couples choose. This is when all the guests are seated and served a formal dinner. Typically, it consists of two courses (an appetizer and an entrée), plus dessert if it's served tableside.

What year was monsoon wedding? ›

Who is the star cast of monsoon? ›

  • Srishti Sharma.
  • Sudhanshu.
  • Shawar Ali.
  • Vijay Singh.
  • Raja Gulati.

Who played the role of Priya in wedding season? ›

Wedding Season (2022) - Arianna Afsar as Priya - IMDb.

Is monsoon a good thing? ›

Monsoons are both helpful and harmful.

Although we often associate monsoons with harmful and destructive rain storms, the rains they bring are important for crop production. Summer monsoons in Asia are essential to bring enough water to the area to grow rice and other crops.

Should there be kids at a wedding? ›

There are no hard and fast rules, and the choice ultimately comes down to personal preference. If you want to invite children to your wedding, then have them. If you would prefer an adults only celebration, that's fine too. Remember, this is your big day and it's your preferences that matter.

Is The Wedding Singer OK for kids to watch? ›

A couple uses of “goddamn”, “bi**h”, “hell” as well. Robbie uses the f-word in a song about his ex. (This is the only time the word is said in the movie). Otherwise, I think it's best to wait until teens are mature enough so they can truly see Sandler in his best role.

What yellow item does Dubey eat in monsoon wedding? ›

Theirs is the only pure and completely unexpected love story in the film, echoed by their bizarre shared habit of eating the core of marigolds - the Indian wedding flower" ("Monsoon Wedding, A New Film by Mira Nair").

Who is Rachel in Alice? ›

Alicia Witt will be appearing as Rachel, the ex-wife of Paul Bennett with whom she shared custody of their son Daniel. While she no longer lives on the plantation, going about her life as normal, she never does anything about the enslaved people she left behind after her divorce.

Was Princess Alice at the wedding? ›

She attended the royal wedding of Philip and Elizabeth and her daughter-in-law's coronation in 1953, arriving at the latter dressed in the nun's habit of her order. She also had the engagement ring that Philip used to propose to the future Queen Elizabeth II made from the few jewels she had not sold during the 1940s.

How old was gorilla monsoon when he died? ›

Death and legacy. Marella died on October 6, 1999, of heart failure brought on by complications of diabetes, at his home in Willingboro Township, New Jersey. He was 62 years old.

Why is singing in the rain famous? ›

It offers a lighthearted depiction of Hollywood in the late 1920s, with the three stars portraying performers caught up in the transition from silent films to "talkies". Loew's Inc. The film was only a modest hit when it was first released.

How famous is singing in the rain? ›

The film often appears on popular “greatest films of all time” lists, from AFI to the BBC, and only last year appeared as the single musical on Sight & Sound's once-a-decade survey of film critics, ranking at number 10 among the alleged hundred greatest movies in film history.

What is the message of a short monsoon diary? ›

These extract states about the silent miracles of nature. 'A short monsoon diary' deals with the experience of Ruskin Bond during the monsoon season in the mountains. He has described the salient features of the nature, its undefined beauty and all the flora and fauna that emerge out during season.

Why are monsoons a mixed blessing? ›

Asia's monsoon rains are a mixed blessing. The heavy seasonal downpours are great for farmers, because crops need water to grow. In 1770, when India had no monsoons, 10 million people starved to death. On the other hand, monsoons also cause floods.

What is the story of the wedding guest movie? ›

What is the significance of cobra lily in relation to monsoon season? ›

The cobra lily signifies both the beginning and end of the monsoon. At the beginning of the monsoon season, it is the cobra lilies that rear first and it is in late June. During the end of the monsoon season, its seeds start to turn red.

What did the boy find under the rock? ›

He hopes in vain that God will put money under the rock. He plays a game with God. But he finds no coins but a hairy worm under the rock.

Why did the mist seem melancholic to the speaker? ›

1) The first day of monsoon mist, all the birds fell silent as the mist came climbing up the hill. Perhaps that's what makes the mist so melancholy.

What is the two sentence of monsoon? ›

Our town was generally hot and dry, except during the heavy rains of the monsoon. I could smell the monsoon rain. Monsoon season in Nepal is usually over by September but it has continued to rain this year. The summer monsoon brings warm weather throughout the country.

Why is it called monsoon season? ›

In fact, the name "monsoon" is derived from the Arabic word "mausim" which means "season" or "wind-shift". Again, for India, during the winter dry period, the airflow comes from high pressure to the north—the dry Himalayas and Siberia.

What are 4 things we use during monsoon season? ›

10 Things We Use In The Rainy Season
  • Rain Coat & Rainsuit.
  • Rain Jacket & Rain Poncho.
  • Rain Cover.
  • Mobile Holder & Cover.
  • Repellent Sprays & Medicines 6. Waterproof Footwear.

Why do people love monsoons? ›

The Sweet Scent Of Rain

We know the monsoon has arrived when the air is ripe with an earthy smell called 'petrichor'. This sweet smell floods us with nostalgic childhood memories of rushing out to get drenched in the first rains, splashing in the water, and playing in the mud.

What are 2 positive benefits that come from the monsoons? ›

The summer monsoon fills wells and aquifers for the rest of the year. Rice and tea are some crops that rely on the summer monsoon. Dairy farms, which help make India the largest milk producer in the world, also depend on the monsoon rains to keep cows healthy and well-fed.

What are positive things about monsoons? ›

Monsoons are both helpful and harmful.

Although we often associate monsoons with harmful and destructive rain storms, the rains they bring are important for crop production. Summer monsoons in Asia are essential to bring enough water to the area to grow rice and other crops.

What does the ending of the wedding guest mean? ›

And although Jay deserved death at the end of this movie, his fate was a fate worse than death. That although Jay played it cool when she left, Jay is doomed to live a life of misery. Misery in penance for the murders he committed.

What does the ending of the guest mean? ›

Anna and Luke ultimately succeed in killing David at the local high school; however, after being attended to by an EMT at the back of an open ambulance, Anna sees David limping out of the school disguised as a firefighter—he's still alive.

Was the wedding guest happy to be stopped? ›

The wedding guest was extremely displeased to be stopped. This statement can be justified by taking instances from the poem where he tries to shrug off his hand, in order to proceed towards the wedding ceremony.


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