“The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach!” is one line of information that I have been fed over the years, so relentlessly that I have no doubt whatsoever when such a clichéd dialogue can appear in a situation, even on screen. I went into Wedding Season expecting these little tidbits splashed here and there. That’s exactly what happens in Wedding Season, a film that tries and tries to get past clichés but never succeeds. It follows the tried and tested formula of the romcom that we’ve encountered a dozen times on screen, in the lure of returning to it with a fresh new perspective, only to turn this Netflix film into a sorry chore that neither scores as a romance, nor as a comedy. As for perspective, it has none. Think Indian Matchmaking meets Never Have I Ever and you have it.
Directed by Tom Dey and written by Shiwani Srivastava, Wedding Season has the mother Suneeta (Veena Sood) worrying that her ambitious daughter Asha (Pallavi Sharda, whom you might remember from Ranbir Kapoor’s Besharam) will never find a man for herself. So, she takes the onus (like most Indian mothers in a nutshell) to make an online wedding profile for her. Wedding Season opens with Suneeta creating her profile with loads of lies sans her daughter being organized and self-sufficient when in reality she sleeps in her office without proper preparation to meet an important client the next day. She’s a microfinance entrepreneur aiming to get it right. But in the Netflix world of work-life semblance, Asha’s struggles at work seem more like an annoying trait of a spoilt brat.
She is set up with Ravi (Suraj Sharma, from Ang Lee’s Life of Pi) whose profile says that he cracked MIT at 16 and now owns a startup that no one really knows about. In short, he earns well to sustain a family, and that is enough. Fed up with the incessant pestering of their respective parents, both residents of the Indian community of New Jersey agree to meet and then come to terms on a plan that would benefit both sides. You guessed it right, they decide to fake their courtship and attend the 14 weddings of the season together, to keep the nosy aunties silent for a while. Which only means more beautiful outfits and a lot more dancing. Then it begins, a montage of them swiftly dancing from one wedding to the next, happy-pretending all the way, until it’s no longer just pretense. Sparks fly, as they must.
Predictable from a mile, Wedding Season does not aim to rebuild a tried and tested genre into its own. Yet, none of the humor or jokes land where they should. Ravi and Asha meet, and learn only a little about themselves, like the rest of us. It all builds up to deceptions and big reveals later, but by then the faking the fakers scenario has gone too far to catch hold of. Yet, the convenient handling of all the patched-up lies feels irksome after a while. The characters are all paper-thin and one-sided, singing and dancing while they can, and then processing all the change with a composed, routine calm. The main actors largely make it watchable, specially Sharda and Sharma, who warm up to the incongruous script with quite a lot of nuance and appeal.
Wedding Season also takes a reckless interest in capitalist possession as a marker of success. When the secrets are spilled, the screenplay does not try for one second to critique the obsession with economic stability as a normative for securing a marriage. Even though Dey’s film is conveniently sidelining this entire discourse on marriages in India or within the diasporic Indian community, the people of Wedding Season seem nonchalantly honest about their obsession with economic stability and wealth.
I am not saying that such obsessions don’t exist. But to be completely starry-eyed about it, coupled with the frankness of securing the “American Dream,” shamelessly resplendent in the later half of Wedding Season together gives a bitter aftertaste. I wish Wedding Season had tried a little to catch up on its consequences, which do not always end up all sweet and lovely. In the end, there’s one important marriage that Asha and Ravi have to attend, and yet the big conclusion comes off as nothing less than predicted.
Wedding Season Trailer
Wedding Season (2022) Movie Links – IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes
Wedding Season (2022) Movie Cast – Pallavi Sharda, Suraj Sharma, Arianna Afsar