There is a dialogue in Veere Di Wedding that almost every independent, thinking woman who has ever been trotted around in the arranged marriage market has viciously thought, possibly said to her friends in frustration. When Sonam Kapoor’s character is rejected by a prospective groom when she tries to kiss him because “he wants a wife, not a hooker,” she says something that roughly translates to: ‘(expletives) like you just like the idea of a modern, independent woman as your wife, but don’t know how to handle her in reality.’
If I had to summarise Veere Di Wedding in one line, that would be it.
Movies like Veere just like the idea of modern, independent women as their protagonists, but have no clue how to handle them. The sad thing is, the film is a minefield of missed opportunities. It manages to pique your interest by starting to say something of consequence, but quickly backs off, almost as if it is too scared to commit to any conflict. It lays the groundwork for some excellent plot points and compelling story arcs, but they’re all sacrificed at the altar of fashion, and indiscriminate and forced product placements.
I mean, there’s only so much you can do by way of story-telling and character-building when your movie is essentially one long, glorified Bikaji ad. So what we get is a vapid, vacuous two hour-long tribute to every trope about womanhood and women’s friendships that the writers of the film could dredge up.
Here, in no particular order, are the most bizarre moments, cringe-worthy stereotypes and stubbornly squandered opportunities in the film.
Can someone please tell me what’s going on with Swara Bhaskar’s character?
We’re almost through the second decade of the 21st century, but it’s still impossible for mainstream Bollywood to find a way to establish that a female character is unafraid and unapologetic about her life without portraying her as a smoking, drinking, profanity-spewing, tiny clothes-wearing, on-the-verge-of-divorce mess. The fact that it is Swara Bhaskar, one of Bollywood’s only few vocal, articulate feminists, who portrays the stereotype feels like a particularly grievous insult to the injury. Why Swara, why? Ugh.
On the subject of Swara’s character, exactly who shows up at their friend’s in-laws’ house drunk and dressed in clothes that leave little to the imagination? Her strange choice of clothing practically throughout the film was little about exercising one’s agency, and more about making a contrived point. No, dear writers and makers of Veere, the emancipated aren’t morons who can’t seem to tread the very thick line that separates assertiveness from impropriety.
Why do these seemingly modern women have such a weird relationship with sex?
Kareena Kapoor Khan’s character has a contentious relationship with her father and stepmother. To establish how inferior her father’s current wife is to her own mother, we’re subjected to a scene where Kareena is sitting at the dining table while her father and his wife are having sex on the sofa a few feet away. He even stops mid-way to grin at his daughter. Yep, that really happened. I want to know what the writers were smoking when they decided this would be a good, believable addition to the film.
There’s a great moment in the film where Swara, fed up of being deprived of sex due to their marital troubles, decides to take matters in her own hands and use a vibrator. All the good work done by that scene to normalise a woman’s sexual drive is undone in the very next. with Swara hastily offering explanations about how long it had been, while the others look on in shock. Because masturbation isn’t okay unless there’s a sexual drought? Also, educated, empowered women looking so utterly shocked by the idea of their friend masturbating… Weird.
Turns out, the answer to life’s problems is not a five-star vacation
After Kareena gets cold feet about the wedding, her friends try to talk her out of calling it off. She rips into them with a delightfully real nastiness, viciously calling them names and pointing out the terrible life choices, and the mess they’ve made of their own lives. You’re almost fooled into believing that the story is finally going to get somewhere, and offer some real meat for the characters to sink their teeth into. The next thing we know, the foursome is flying off to Thailand (first class in Air India, because it’s “always on time”) to let off some steam because apparently, that’s how working women resolve conflicts in their relationships. Apology gayi ladyboys ke saath dance karne. Because we’re woke like that. And who has the time for hurt, resentment and forgiveness when there are swimsuit shots to be spliced in.
The way the film resolves the internal and interpersonal conflicts between its central characters is possibly its biggest failure. All the characters come back from Thailand, perfectly empowered to take charge of their lives. Overbearing parents, commitment phobia, sex-shaming, body image issues… the girls manage to find solutions to all their existential worries within that trip, neatly tying up all the loose, unhappy ends before the end credits roll. If only real life messes fell into place in such a convenient and timely manner.
I went into the theatre hoping that Veere Di Wedding would give me, even if fleetingly, a glimpse into my own interwoven, bittersweet, constantly changing, sometimes complicated, often messy friendships and relationships. All it gave me was a two hour-long parade of pretty people and prettier clothes.