It’s 2018 and Bollywood has arrived. No, not with saucy item numbers, but with female bonding on screen! For the first time ever, in Veere Di Wedding that released on Friday, June 1, we saw four women – Kalindi Puri (Kareena Kapoor), Avni Malhotra (Sonam Kapoor), Meera (Shikha Talsania) and Sakshi (Swara Bhaskar) from the posh streets of South Delhi coming together as the best of pals, discussing their lives, their sex lives, marriage, divorce and MEN. Yes, they discuss men in all their hangouts!
Rather, they are shown discussing ONLY men since they are 17.
Their unique camaraderie is under the spotlight and luckily, their off-screen chemistry spills on screen too. But while the first half of the movie is still quite ablaze with their everlasting friendship as the four childhood friends reunite over Kaalu’s (Kalindi) marriage and start sharing what’s going on in their lives, the second half evidently makes it more about the stress of overwhelming marriage rituals, overbearing parents with their desire to splurge for the BIG FAT Indian Weddings and the patriarchal society’s expectations from women.
The vivaciously spirited and coming-of-age film helmed by Shashanka Ghosh has reportedly grossed over 40 crore rupees in a matter of four days. The film not only casts four women protagonists but is also produced by two women and co-written by one. It is a brave attempt at portraying women breaking stereotypes and addressing the taboo topic of female sexuality rather well and in an endearing fashion.
Kalindi is shown as the commitment-phobic bride from a fractured home who does not shy away from giving her would-be-husband her piece of mind when his family overdoes the wedding arrangements and gets a big diamond ring instead of the earlier design chosen by Kalindi herself. Neither does she hesitate in proposing the same man when she realizes that a future without the love of her life is scarier than the new adjustments that come with the marriage itself.
For the first time in Bollywood cinema, a wedding is broken because the bride has issues with the wedding arrangements and a BIGGER ring.
Avni, meanwhile, is the only woman who has been shown to have a career of a Divorce lawyer in the Tis Hazari Court, Delhi although her wardrobe and make-up seem that of a Page 3 model dressed in Prada with false eyelashes. Her mom (Neena Gupta) is the typical Indian mother who pesters her daughter into an arranged marriage yet Avni manages to sleep with another man called “Bhandari” in the entire movie (even Avni doesn’t know his first name) and later talked about the incident to him saying, “it was not me, it was me dealing with some issues.”
Meera (Shikha Talsania) eloped and got married to a foreigner and has a 2-year-old son with him, an act for which she is not in talking terms with her father. Though dealing with her body weight and post pregnancy issues, she is the most balanced and sorted one among the four friends and also becomes the one who tries to solve the conflicts of the three Veeres during a fight scene. She reminds us of the one friend who tries to solve fights and acts as a mediator in a friend circle.
Sakshi (Swara Bhaskar) is shown to go through an estranged marriage, her marriage having costed crores of rupees and West Delhi aunties already judging and shaming her for limitless drinking, unabashed cussing and allegedly having an affair. The skeleton is out of the closet when she confesses in the later part of the movie to have masturbated using a vibrator.
In certain instances, the eschewing of cuss words feels coerced. Add to it the excessive drinking, a visit to strip clubs and the consistent talk about men, marriages and sex – this film seems acutely profane and lacks depth, emotions and substance. Some ‘in the face’ product placements and endorsements make the execution of the film feel like its hanging on a rope that is about to be cut any moment.
But not all is lost!
Even before its release, this hugely anticipated comedy-drama has been compared to be the female equivalent of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara(ZNMD) and Dil Chahta Hai. While questioning the swanky hotel rooms of Phuket, Thailand where the Veeres holiday, their plush neighbourhoods and lavish designer outfits, we forget that even ZNMD had three men roaming around the world, dressed in their finest, staying at opulent hotels and taking part in adventure activities without a care in the world.
The portrayal of women in the movie could have taken into consideration the true modern day concerns of urban women – career vs. family, child care or single moms. Having said that, the movie blatantly features the fact that women’s success is till date defined by her ‘mangalsutra’ (wedding necklace) and the societal conventions set for her especially as she reaches marriageable age. The film gives major Friendship goals where the female bonding showed in the film is realistic and relatable – before looking for their missing friend, they would ask another friend about their one night stand! *winks*
Kalindi’s fiancée, Rishabh Malhotra (Sumeet Vyas) managed to look equally significant in a film with four women. He steadfastly supports Kalindi, doesn’t force her for marriage even when his father lands up in jail for failing to have paid the bank loan he took for Rishabh and Kalindi’s extravagant wedding celebration. Rishabh is calm and supportive of Kalindi yet confident of his decisions. He is someone who can deal with a woman rejecting him for marriage and again embrace her when she returns by her own choice.
As is clear, this is not a film depicting women empowerment, however, as four women try to live lives the way they want, fixing their own set of issues while also helping each other gain their grounds and face what life has to offer, this is a big step towards that end. Here is a depiction of friends who are always beside each other, not judging the other by people’s opinions. Friends who make mistakes and then learn from them…together!