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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.78:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English
  Extras
  • 7 Teaser trailer
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary - Director Mira Nair
  • Cast/crew biographies
  • Animated menus
  • Interviews
  • Awards/Nominations

Monsoon Wedding

Madman Entertainment/AV Channel . R4 . COLOR . 109 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Bollywood. All Indian films are a part of this catch-all term, right? Well, while Monsoon Wedding is as contemporary as films can get, it comes across more as a tribute to the traditions of classic Indian cinema, maintaining those delightful little certain somethings that appeal to the romantic in all of us, whilst being forward in its thinking at the same time.

Delivering a generous and hearty slice of life, there’s not a lot to go into plot-wise - Monsoon Wedding is the type of film for which you simply laze back, relax and let the sights and sounds wash about you as it all grabs a hold of your senses and takes you on its own special ride. It revolves around quite rushed preparations for a somewhat hastily arranged marriage – and that’s arranged in the literal sense – as we enter the lives of the Verma family in New Delhi. And it’s a very modern city that’s depicted, giving us an intriguing clash of technological savvy and respected tradition, all the time presented with a hearty and infectious lust for life.

A number of varying romantic threads are woven throughout, from the rebounding, reluctant yet resigned bride-to-be Aditi and her hubby-to-be, a successful engineer in Hemant, to the Verma’s maid Alice and the attentions of the rather curious, marigold-chomping events coordinator in Dubey. Then there’s Aditi’s mother, Pimmi, who is feeling a tad neglected while her husband Lalit frets about the organisational and financial nightmare going on around him. There are shades of that typical friction when you get any extended family all in one place, and then there’s Aditi’s cousin’s news...

Director Mira Nair (Salaam Bombay!) has concocted a joyous mixture of humour, drama, romance and dance, in what is a remarkable feat of ensemble filmmaking. The handheld cameras used throughout bring us right into the midst of the celebrations, a brilliant move so as we’re not left feeling like we’re just watching things at a distance - we're given a real feeling of being involved. Aided by a superb acting cast mostly unknown outside Indian cinema, Monsoon Wedding is a romantic comedy at its root, but one with a lot more substance than you would ever get from any such Hollywood emanation that's lumped in the same basket.

  Video
Contract

So often films that don’t see major cinema release, but rather are left to the vital “arthouse” circuit to expose – films such as Monsoon Wedding - tend to leave us expecting seas of grain, murk and general visual yukkiness if or when they make their way to DVD. Utterly wonderful news is that we can throw that stereotype out the window, as this looks quite magical.

Monsoon Wedding is an absolute celebration of glorious colour, and none of it is lost in its trip to little shiny disc. Not only do we get a vivid transfer, we also get a fairly sharp one – chock full of detail in light and dark places, perhaps only let down a little by some slight grain that tends to hang around throughout and the odd scratch and mark here and there. Rest assured that these latter niggles are not really distracting, they’re just the sort of things we have to keep our eyes peeled for so you lot all know we’re earning our keep.

The layer change is placed so as not to be particularly intrusive – always a good thing. English subtitles for those who can’t decipher the Hindi and Punjabi language portions of the film are in a nice, distinct yellow font, and thankfully are an option – if you just wish to lay back and take in the film’s visual splendour without text splattered all over it then you most certainly can. And all this is a faithful-to-the-cinema-release 1.85:1 anamorphically enhanced transfer. Fabulous!

  Audio
Contract

This is an intriguing one. As alluded to above, there’s a mixture of languages used throughout Monsoon Wedding, so this is certainly the first Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track that combines English, Hindi and Punjabi that this little reviewer has come across. It isn’t the most exciting 5.1 mix you’ll ever experience, however it does what it needs to do quite efficiently – mainly adding to the music and rounding out some of the weather effects. The subwoofwoof isn’t left standing, getting to say its piece regularly by adding oomph to the music throughout. All is synched perfectly and balanced nicely – although some may have trouble making out some of the English dialogue due to some rather strong accents, and rapid-fire talking.

The soundtrack from Mychael Danna is an absolute star of this film, combining more traditional Indian sounds with a selection of modern beats. If you manage to avoid its thrall and remain resiliently static on your sitting-upon item of choice whilst viewing this then I’d be very surprised.

  Extras
Contract

A pleasing amount of extras has been assembled for Monsoon Wedding’s journey onto DVD, certainly more than we usually expect from such releases. It all begins with some simply beautifully autumnal animated menus that are worth hanging around to watch for a while. Rake them off screen and we get...

Audio Commentary – director Mira Nair: You know those lists of people you have in your head that you’d love to have a natter with over a glass or three of wine? Well, Mira Nair has found a place on mine on the strength of this wonderfully sharp commentary. Brimful of fascinating information on her creation, there’s never a dull moment as she essentially covers all bases on how Monsoon Wedding was brought into being.

Behind the Scenes: A brief piece of fluff (it runs for 7:58) that combines the usual ingredients such things do – interview snippets with cast and crew (mostly in English), scenes from the film and the like. It’s hardly vital, but is worth a peek nonetheless.

Interview with Mira Nair: Running for 8:50 and in full frame, this is an interview conducted by The Movie Show’s Margaret Pomerantz, although we don’t get to see or hear her (well alright, if you wish to be technical we do hear her laugh briefly at one point) – rather the questions are presented as text screens. The very engaging Ms Nair provides quite some insight into her creation in the brief time available, ranging from general production information to the music, to Declan Quinn’s cinematography to her intentions when embarking upon the project.

Awards and nominations: Just one page, from its title you know what it contains.

Soundtrack: Just a text screen flogging the soundtrack, sadly a chance to provide some of the gorgeous music on its own was missed. Still, that’s probably why they want us to buy the soundtrack...

Trailer: A somewhat speckly teaser for the film that does a great job of alluding to the joy within while it hangs around for 2:13. It’s in the right ratio, but is not enhanced for 16x9 tellies.

Cast and crew: Reasonably thorough text biographies for most of the cast members and Mira Nair.

Madman propaganda: A decent selection of seven trailers of varyin guality for other available and forthcoming releases, more specifically Swing (1:32), The Closet (1:17), Divided We Fall (1:58), Kandahar (1:24), A Time For Drunken Horses (1:23), Molokai (1:28) and The Circle (1:10).

  Overall  
Contract

This is a very well-presented disc in all aspects, offering a charming, quite enchanting and often refreshingly tender experience. Invigorating in its difference to the slew of by-numbers romantic comedies we’re usually bombarded with all year, borrow, buy or otherwise blag a copy of Monsoon Wedding as soon as you possibly can - it’s a true delight.


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      And I quote...
    "Let the sights and sounds of this true delight wash about you..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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