In the first half there is a scene where Sonam Kapoor’s character Avni Sharma tries to kiss her potential suitor much to the shock and bewilderment of the latter. Both the parties feel offended and parts ways after a heated exchange that includes the girl accusing the guy of being a ‘mother lover’ – a common term used to make fun of guys who don’t fit into the expected image of being macho. Sonam Kapoor – visibly angry and upset – gets together with one of her ‘veeres’/friends and starts crying and together they start passing judgements and calling names like ‘he must be gay’. Now recreate the scene in your mind with a gender role reversal; with Sonam/Avni being the one forced by the guy for a kiss and the guy passing judgments and calling her names. Sounds wrong? How many times have you seen in Hindi films – a loutish guy relentlessly pursuing the attention of a pretty lass and vilifying her image once the proposal or advances are rejected and nipped in the bud. Fortunately or unfortunately ‘Veere Di Wedding’ is a film where the privilege of ‘my body my rules’ is strictly restricted only to women.
What is the problem, you ask? Sonam/Avni is a well privileged, well educated and a well earning lawyer who have never faced discrimination in her life due to her gender. She is a product of today’s time who knows her rights and demands for gender equality. She should have been a passionate and all encompassing kind of person but instead she succumbs to being an ‘avla nari’/the weaker sex, whenever the opportunity arises. The thing is the film never promised to be a satire or a social commentary on sexism and it cannot claim to be one now. What’s even more interesting is that moments after being feeling rejected by a man who wouldn’t kiss her, she sleeps with a lecher – in her own words – in a drunken rage and the circumstances of leading towards ‘the act’ are very vague and shady to say the least. But who are we to judge as long as she had fun, right? The next morning she wakes up and fake-whimpers like a dumb blonde and say something on the line of ‘did I really sleep with you?’ One thing can be concluded from the film that if every strong, independent woman behaves like her than the Harvey Weinsteins of the world have nothing to worry about. All they need to do is look well groomed, dance well, have six pack abs, smile creepily and offer the fairer sex a glass of alcohol.
One cannot help but compare the film to the other ‘all male buddy flicks’ like ‘Dil Chahta Hai (DCH)’, ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (ZNMD)’, Pyaar Ka Punchnama (PKP)’ series and the recently released ‘Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety (SKTKS)’. Content wise ‘Veere Di Wedding’ doesn’t even come close to the maturity and path breaking treatment of DCH and ZNMD. Also these two films had strong female characters like that of Dimple Kapadia and Katrina Kaif. Even PKP and SKTKS were made with good intentions and never cross the line of colloquialism and light hearted fun. ‘Veere’ on the other hand is propaganda for male bashing from the word go where homosexual/effeminate characters are either dance choreographers or overtly sweet uncles who cannot control or hold their limbs. Husbands are always at fault even though a marriage is falling apart due to the fault of both the parties. On a not-so-trivial level where ‘Veere’ scores over the above mentioned films is that it dares to cast a plus sized actor (Shikha Talsania) as one of the female protagonists.
Kareena Kapoor Khan gets the best bargain in the film as her role is the only one that makes some kind of sense. Affected by the failed marriage of her parents, she is herself scared to commit into one. Khan who shot the film in and around her pregnancy is smartly covered in loose fitted clothes with loosened buttons and bare shoulders even when she is sitting at home because in urban India – where women have almost everything – that is the only definition of women empowerment. She is not in her best form but still stands out in the crowd of four. Swara Bhaskar and Shikha Talsania are brilliant actors in isolation but their talent is wasted here. Sonam Kapoor despite being given a powerful role never reaches her potential (read Neerja) as she approaches role with a genuine lack of interest. But she channels the classic Sonam Kapoor (i.e. clothes taking precedence over acting) in the film and this should keep the female and some male audiences happy. Sumeet Vyas as Kareena’s fiancé turns out to be one of the best discoveries of the year. He has a screen presence and personality strong enough to hold his own against a giant like Kareena Kapoor. The rest of the supporting cast either swears, dances or gossips, to the best of their ability. Rhea Kapoor as a producer has never been one to be taken seriously but between ‘Aisha’, ‘Khoobsurat’ and ‘Veere Di Wedding’, her latest flick is the weakest of them all.
Even if we try not to read too much between the lines and approach ‘Veere Di Wedding’ as a harmless, fun film, it fails in that department too. This is not the first time women have drunk, smoked or mouthed expletives in Hindi cinema. One can still remember the much effective and rebel-with-a-cause film ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ that released last year. Even before women have taken charge of their sexual desires in films like ‘Julie’ (1975), ‘Bobby’(1973)and ‘Manoranjan’ (1974) to name a few but those films were made to give women a sense of liberation, ownership and respect. Unlike ‘Veere’ which is tacky, devoid of any solid tension or drama. The characters behave like high on hormone teenagers who learnt a few slang words form their seniors or elder siblings and couldn’t wait to show it off the world. All that you remember after the film gets over is ‘thok dia’, ‘pel dia’, ‘le raha hain’, ‘de raha hain’ and the best one ‘apna haath jagannath’. ‘Veere Di Wedding’ is a strangely untimely film and with a message that does nothing for women empowerment; nothing that can be inculcated in real life.