The lines between the reel and the real seem to blur as both movies and couples borrow heavily from each other when it comes to the dynamic face of Indian weddings. Udhav Naig turns the spotlight on recent and upcoming Tamil films that deal with weddings

The influence of movies in shaping our perception of a big, fat Indian wedding cannot be dismissed as minor or insignificant. As society borrows fun wedding rituals from other cultures and constantly strives to give a modern interpretation to the idea of marriage itself, how are our filmmakers’ works reflecting the changing times?

Two months ago, R.S. Prasanna surprised us with his first directorial venture Kalyana Samayal Saadham (KSS), which dealt with temporary erectile dysfunction and its repercussions in an ‘arranged’ marriage. “I wanted to make a film about how modern, liberal people tackle the expectations and values of conservative families’ vis-à-vis manhood and marriage,” says director of KSS, R.S. Prasanna.

Next week, Aaha Kalyanam, the Tamil remake of Band Baaja Baaraat, featuring Telugu star Nani and Vaani Kapoor, will release across theatres in Chennai. The film follows the life of two unlikely people — a young girl with an entrepreneur spirit and village bloke — falling in love with each other as they get involved in the business of flourishing wedding planning. “Usually a ‘wedding movie’ will be about one big wedding involving two families. It is personal. But Band Baaja… was essentially about two people falling in love as they go about planning weddings of their client,” says A. Gokul Krishna, director of Aaha Kalyanam. This film promises to present the hybrid of what our weddings have turned into — grand and commercial.

Another wedding movie, under production for a year now, is Thirumanam Enum Nikkah, which, says the film’s director Anis, will showcase Islamic culture and tradition.  

Over the years, movies about weddings have served as a platform to discuss a range of topics — sex, gender, desire, identity, modern vs. traditional, and so on. Having enjoyed the melodramatic Hum Aapke Hain Kaun that, while being flashy and flamboyant, reinforced the importance of tradition over everything else, we’ve reached a stage where we have embraced an anti-wedding movie, Shuddh Desi Romance, which rejects the idea of marriage as a silly residue of pre-modern India. 

Yet, the desire to be part of a lavish Karan Johar-style wedding is so strong that couples want their wedding photographs and videos to look as glossy and expensive as his movies. Varun Suresh, a sought-after wedding photographer, says that his clients expect a larger-than-life account of their wedding. “Most prefer their wedding to look like a scripted Bollywood film, which will find popularity with the masses.” 

The expectation forces the wedding videographers and filmmakers to play it safe. “A few are breaking the mould to tell a story,” he says. Cinematographer of Aaha Kalyanam, Logananthan, acknowledges that he has filled the frames with colours, but not just because it was the case with the original. “A splash of rich colours was necessary to capture the enormous cultural fusion happening in the weddings in Chennai.”