Mira Nair's "Monsoon Wedding" is a return to the form of "Salaam Bombay!", her 1988 feature. Nair's gift for observation of the everyday and love for her characters makes for a delightful film, with the whole web of family relationships that knit and break during a wedding being spun at a perfect pace.
The excellent performances exceed the often stereotypical roles on offer; the incomparable Nasiruddin Shah as the harassed father, Kulbhushan Kharbanda as the comic uncle, or Shefali Chaya as the orphaned cousin. Nair's sympathetic eye for the unnoticed and the harassed is at its best when showing the tender romance between the servant and Dube (Vijay Raaz), the marigold-munching upwardly-mobile wedding coordinator, who brings pathos and humour to the often unseen servant classes. The handheld camera gives a docu-drama feel to this celebratory look at the upper middle class Hindu Punjabi joint family, while paying tribute to modern Indian public culture of music, television and of course "Bollywood".
On the DVD: The viewer should watch the film once with Dolby Digital 5.1, then again with the director's commentary, with its excellent social analysis and fascinating anecdotal history. The trailer and behind the scenes are much less interesting. It would have been good to have had a full soundtrack of the songs but the viewer will have to buy the CD. --"Rachel Dwyer"