Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Monsoon Wedding

I mentioned this movie quite some time ago, but didn't say very much about it. There was a DVD of it in the library the other day when I was there, so I picked it up to have another look at it.
A good deal of it came back to me, but I'd virtually forgotten the strange, beanpole of a man who's the 'event organiser' (played by Vijay Raaz). His story is treated in the way Shakespeare used to treat his humorous, down-to-earth comics: as counterpoints to the main play. Here, in a setting that's nearly all middle-class and full of extravagance, we have a man who's also well-off, but who's impoverished in something that matters: his heart. His mother has been nagging him for years to find a wife and give her grandchildren, but whether because he hasn't bothered or just hasn't found the right person, we don't know. Anyway, within ten minutes of the movie's beginning, he's fallen head over heels in love with the servant of the house. And she with him - although she manages to hide it rather more successfully. The man is fairly ugly, to put it mildly, and isn't the sweetest of personalities, but in the end he gets his girl, and you feel as good for him as you do for any of the other characters. Better, perhaps. It takes some work holding himself together, but he manages.
The film, on the whole, is a cheerful piece, with few dark corners. However, there is an underlying sub-plot about a family 'friend' who has been helping fund the family in past crises, but also secretly molested the niece (whose own father is dead - she lives with the family). When I first saw the movie, this aspect came as a surprise (as is probably intended), but this time round the warning signs are obvious throughout the film.
The story is full of all sorts of other complications, some of them trivial, some of them important to the people concerned; and there are several relationships running at various levels throughout the movie. It's a little hard to keep up with all the characters, but perhaps that doesn't really matter: this is a film about community, both within and without the extended family, and it's a film about the joy of being alive, and the enjoyment of all that weddings mean, and how they bind people together in amazing ways.

On another tack altogether, I'm listening to Philip Glass' Violin Concerto - yup, I did say Philip Glass. This is another Glass altogether to the man who wrote that interminable opera I mentioned a while ago. Here is a wonderful soaring piece of music with a constantly throbbing accompaniment that varies as instrument after instrument picks it up, or moves it suddenly along at twice the speed. It's coupled with John Adams' Violin Concerto, which, apart from its Chaconne movement, is taking quite a bit of getting used to.

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