Is ‘Veere di Wedding’ a feminist film?

For a society so uncomfortable with female sexuality, a film that shows women unafraid to discuss their bodies and sex lives openly is important.

Updated - December 01, 2021 06:00 am IST

Published - June 15, 2018 06:54 pm IST

Illustration: Sreejith R.Kumar

Illustration: Sreejith R.Kumar

Let’s finish off the riders first.

No 1: I tried my best but couldn’t find any grandmothers, not even their skeletons in my closets. So unlike the bhakts , I went to watch Veere di Wedding with my husband. While on the subject, to all those bhakts on social media who proclaimed that their grandmothers (all weirdly named ‘Hindustan’) had been shocked by the film’s masturbation scene, please do rethink strategy. This campaign only sent viewers to the theatres in droves , including yours truly.

No 2: Veere is a bad film. Pathetic plotline, feeble direction, infuriating acting. Shashanka Ghosh steers his threadbare ship jerkily from one shock value scene to another, leaving little to the imagination and nothing to common sense. Kareena sleepwalks, Swara hams, Sonam models, and Shikha plays the stock-in-trade ‘overweight-and-jolly’ friend.

Veere is Karan Johar meets AIB roast: rich people wring Tiffany-laden hands about failed relationships and wing off to Phuket to recover, but do all this while cussing like sailors and trying to be funny. The crudeness, loudness and self-centredness could just be Delhiites being Delhiites or it could be terrible upbringing. Early on, when the four girls come home after their final board exam, Kareena’s parents traipse in with Champagne so that the teens can celebrate school-leaving. One knows instantly the film is doomed to deteriorate. And it does.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, let me go on to why, sadly, even such execrable fare is useful in our oh-so- sanskari society. Despite setting the ‘feminist’ bar really low — apparently all it takes is to smoke, drink and swear a lot and discuss your sex life in public — such films still need to be made, because in the absence of any daylight, even a tiny sliver can seem wonderfully bright.

Think of all those mummy- jis and uncle- jis watching the film — it will certainly force them to construct a totally different image of women than the demure and decorous one they’re so used to. And think of all the 20-somethings watching the film in Hariharpur or Gopalganj — whole new possibilities of womanhood open up for them, whole new imaginings of what is “allowed” and “disallowed”. And just as they will ask the local tailor to copy Swara’s wardrobe, they might copy her life choices too. Which wouldn’t be a bad thing at all. It’s the only way to make extended families and mohallas sit up and take notice.

For a society so uncomfortable with female sexuality, a film that shows women unafraid to discuss their bodies and sex lives openly is important. For a society that polices its women so strictly, it’s good to see them cursing and smoking on screen without being judged for it. Which is why it’s a bit sad that Veere does this important job with so little artistic panache.

The box office figures for 'Veere Di Wedding'

The box office figures for 'Veere Di Wedding'

But the film does get some things right. For one, the men are gloriously unimportant. Kareena’s fiancé is undemanding and comfortable in his skin in a way that Bollywood’s screen men seldom are. The young man chasing Sonam is so funny and cheerful in handling rejections that you can almost overlook his tackiness. And Kareena’s uncle’s homosexual relationship is taken for granted, with little drama around it.

Second, Veere spoofs the Great Indian Wedding really well. It gets every vulgar detail right — from hideously overdone clothes to outsized jewellery to the ghastly thrones on stage. There’s even a terrible quarter-moon on which the couple swing while exchanging rings. My only fear is the families out there who will not see the satire and are possibly already designing one for their next wedding.

Mostly, Veere is a lazy film. It’s easy to show women drinking to prove “liberation”, harder to give them real lives. Except for Sonam, the others don’t have visible jobs. On-screen jobs are important — they establish that liberation is not just for spoilt, rich women whose angst is addressed by Dom Pérignon and retail therapy. One gratuitous “sexy” scene isn’t liberation. A truly liberated Swara would have walked out on a husband old-fashioned enough to be shocked by a vibrator, not put up with his boorishness and get blackmailed.

So, yes, we’ve come a long way baby, but there’s still far, far to go.

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