Director: Shashanka Ghosh
Cast: Sonam Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Swara Bhasker, Shikha Talsania, Sumeet Vyas
Veere Di Wedding is essentially a Koffee With Karan gift hamper passed off as a Bollywood buddy flick. The film has interior decorators, not production designers; it has brands, not characters; it has fashion labels, not wardrobe changes; it has wealth, not money; it is a plastic reaction to the testosterone-fueled cinematic landscape, not a genuine action; it has females, not feminism. Even sadness looks rich, and hangovers look like modest royal makeovers.
It opens with four schoolgirls – one pretty, one nerdy, one fat, one dark – promising to be best friends forever. But the camera then follows the pretty one, when she discovers her warring parents in the bedroom; it’s always about the pretty one. She will be wary about the institution of marriage – a fear meant to form the central conflict (if one can call it that) of their adulthood. If this isn’t enough, they will manufacture conflicts that will last for a total of 1.5 scenes. The nerdy one will look for Mr. Right, the fat one will be the happiest but with daddy issues, and the dark one will be the reckless, foul-mouthed, trashy, crude brat designed to remind us that men aren’t the only repulsive humans on this planet. Swara Bhasker has a ball doing this. She revels in being one of the rare Indian actresses to enact a full-fledged orgasm for comical effect. She’s the freewheeling, chain-smoking divorcee – except she looks immensely awkward munching on a cigarette from the side of her mouth in order to depict her zero-fucks attitude.
Every time she smokes, she does it like she’s making a statement instead of enjoying it – an ailment that also plagues the film she occupies.
VDW is no Girls Trip or Bridesmaids, of course. The problem is it can’t get over its own posturing as one. It is too consumed by the idea of politically incorrect Delhi girls in a Hindi movie rather than solely with the idea of them as individuals. In fact, there’s one scene that perfectly encapsulates the vapid tone of a film that tries to spell out the word B-A-D-A-S-S. Sonam Kapoor (as “nerdy” Avni), a divorce lawyer, daughter to a single mother (Neena Gupta), rushes into the kitchen seconds after serving tea to potential in-laws-from-hell in the living room. The maid is sobbing, her face various shades of black and blue. Avni launches into a fiery monologue about how she will take her abusive husband to court and – she screeches in delight when her phone pings. Her bff Kalindi (pretty Kareena Kapoor Khan) is getting married. Everything else is forgotten. The maid grins, too – fulfilling her duty as a callous device parachuted into proceedings to remind us that this film can snap a socially conscious finger when it isn’t too busy holding those posh shopping bags.
For example, Kalindi’s uncle (Tamasha’s Vivek Mushran) lives with his male partner – a rare instance of a gay middle-aged couple used as peripheral characters in a mainstream movie. His sexuality isn’t weaponized – except when the girls are on screen with them. That’s when the two men are made to “look” gay, their hand movements and speech a little more extravagant – as if they were written to inform our understanding of the girls’ urbane coolness. Even though the four are made to joke around in an unpolished language we mostly relate to, the heavy “dialogues” slip in the moment any emotions have to be conveyed. That’s when Sonam Kapoor sounds like, well, Sonam Kapoor in an environment full of loose-tongued actresses (Shikha Talsania has a bright future) on a glorified vacation.
As usual, the semi-fun parts involve the boy’s (a poker-faced Sumeet Vyas) blissfully ignorant Punjabi family – the pushy, “healthy” West Delhi parents (Manoj Pahwa, Ayesha Raza), and especially his gleefully unrefined Jatt friend, Bhandari (Vishwas Kini), who, for once, isn’t dismissed as a privileged creep but is actually humanized in an endearing-loafer kind of way.
Shashanka Ghosh’s previous film, Khoobsurat, was Disney-fied to make Sonam Kapoor look natural in a desi Prince-Charming fairytale. VDW might seem like it’s at the other end of the spectrum, but there is nothing to suggest that this, too, isn’t an un-sanitized fairytale about four girls who’ve overdosed on first-world buddy movies. It might look bold and flashy and path breaking in an industry yet to acknowledge the whims of female chemistry. But maybe there’s a clue to its futility in the film’s relentless product-placement stance. All the girls’ “acceptable” activities – eating, travelling, dressing, banking, holidaying – are represented through unsubtle sightings of Amul, Air India, HSBC, Bikaji, Gulmohar Lane furnishings and Uber. The ones that aren’t represented: a vibrator, alcohol, cigarettes and thongs. Because only good Indian girls deserve family-friendly brands.