When asked by the director as to what this movie should be called, the protagonists aunt says ‘Hari’s Wedding’. That is the kind of simplicity this docu-movie embodies. In the beginning he gets to know his fiance over the phone. From there on, he shares his worries and aspirations in the most sensible monologue. In the end, Hari gleefully presents his five-day old daughter Anjali. Audience at many national and international film festivals have been mesmerized by this work of art.
This is the story of Hari and his marriage to Suman. Two years after seeing Suman, he agrees to the marriage more as an obligation to his father and less so from the belief that two people will eventually fall in love if they interact long enough. Preparations for marriage, the gifts, the invitations, ceremonies, all through the eyes of a Taxi driver (son of a farmer) who is rooted in reality and declares that each generation takes a small step forward from the previous one. It is always worth the effort. The extended family takes part in the festivities and the groom returns home with the bride after marriage. The social, economic and cultural commentary are the opinions of real people and keep the journey entertaining.
It could have been a story from anywhere in India and the outcome may have been the same, provided it was supported by sufficient talent. But there are four distinctions that elevate this docu-movie. First is the lead character Hari Desh who is level headed and charmingly chatty in a Zorba sort of way. Second is Dharamshala, the place where all this unravels, with its picturesque views, devotees of Dalai Lama and small-town grace. Third is of course the delightful family of the bride and groom. Fourth and most importantly is how the film crew have been able to convince everyone that this is a documentary and they just need to be their real selves, thereby bringing oodles of warmth and fun. Praise goes to the directors Tenzing Sonam and Ritu Sarin for their appropriate involvement.
In many scenes the camera looks up (may have been deliberate attempt at not disturbing the proceedings) at the characters and this adds credibility and genuineness to the commoners’ voice. The beauty of the mountains has been captured well and the background music on the road keeps the enchantment alive. Credits are due for cinematography by Tenzing Sonam and music by Arjun Sen.
Even in this remote corner of India, people value the importance of education and are able to envisage futures that were unimaginable a few decades ago. Patriarchy standing on its two feet has not stopped women from voicing their views, dreaming their dreams and walking their talks. We hear the wedding expenses from the grooms’ father and are given only fewer leads to what would have been the burden on the brides’ father.
A perfectly simple guide to what goes on in an Indian arranged marriage. Having entertained by the real deal, hopefully I will not be tempted to take the other arranged marriage movies that parade as the ‘any resemblance to anyone living or dead is mere coincidence’ charade seriously. At best they may engage at being on different levels of fancy pretenses. Hari has married well.