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Making the Family in Monsoon Wedding

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  1. Total, Social, Phenomenal.
  2. Reversing Rituals.
  3. Divisions of Labor.
  4. Economic Entanglement.
  5. Agency as Gift.
  6. Inclusion via Alienation.
  7. Marking the ?Indian?.
  8. Power of the Director.
  9. Conclusion.

Many a novice viewer of Bollywood movies has offered the comment that ?they are all the same.? Such comments, of course, may be the result of an othering Gaze that, by paying attention to stylized ritual and ceremony, does not perceive subtle but important differences. On the other hand, filmmakers in the Bollywood tradition often have to work with a limited number of ?stock? plots, characters, and music?but this comment can be made of Hollywood as well.
Compared to the homogeneity of both Hollywood and Bollywood, Mira Nair's work in Monsoon Wedding is distinct and novel. Her hybrid Hindi-Punjabi-English dialogue and transnational characters are suitable material for her global audiences. Perhaps Nair's awareness of a very broad audience inspired her to deal with ?traditional? themes like love, marriage, and family, but by drawing attention to the constitutive forces behind these constructs, and within the context of a more inclusive and increasingly global India.

[...] Inasmuch as it marks an important moment in the life of the bride and groom as well as their family members, the wedding fulfills the criteria of Mauss' notion of a period of effervescence.[2] It is a moment when social life becomes intense in the extreme,? evidenced by the continual arrival of friends, relatives, servants, and wedding planners. Such effervescence is rendered all the more acute in the film because of the long geographical distances and extended absences between members of the extended diasporic family. [...]


[...] Uncovering the ways in which the act of filming Monsoon Wedding depended upon the changed social relations among the actors and the subject matter is necessary if any meaningful statements must be made about India based on Nair's representation of a fictitious Indian family. Conclusion Watching Monsoon Wedding as a class final was particularly interesting for me. Though I had seen the movie about two years earlier, I had forgotten all but the major plotlines. Revisiting the film put me in dialogue not only with my previous memory of the film but also of my childhood within my own diasporic South Asian family. [...]


[...] Still, in the end, when Mr. Verma expels Uncle Tej from his home and family, Nair presents an optimistic reaffirmation of moral agency within a strongly financial scheme. Agency as Gift Of central importance to the film's presentation of family is this existence of agency. In some instances, one character treats another in such a way as to grant agency or make it manifest. These moments are particularly important for both married couples in the formation of their pre-nuptial affection. [...]

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