One of the very few engaging scenes in Shashanka Ghosh’s “Veere Di Wedding” takes place during the beginning of the film’s second half in which the four friends (the titular veeres) confront each other about the vanity of their problems. This sequence is the only time in this otherwise extremely fake film that the friends actually call out each other for their stupidities, which the never-ending first hour of the film has been shoving right in the audiences’ faces. I breathed a sigh of relief when this argument happened because I thought that finally, these caricatures might realize each other’s artificialities, which would bring about an actual conflict in the film. Sadly, this realization only lasts for about fifteen minutes. Ghosh’s film then reverts to being what it had been for its first hour – a headache-inducingly lazy comedy that uses the term “female-centric” in the same way it uses excessive cuss words, consistent sexual references, overbearing music, and promotional brands, to merely sound bold and hip.
The surprising thing is that the film actually has a premise and a setting that gives the filmmaker an opportunity to explore the artificiality that persists in upper-middle-class Indian families (something that Ghosh handled with much more deftness in “Khoobsurat” (2014)), or to just present an entertaining story about female friendships and hardships, or more trickily, to tackle both. Situated in the affluent areas of Delhi that the camera captures mostly by adding gloss to the screen through a bright color palette, “Veere Di Wedding” begins by focusing on the strong bond that the veeres share with each other, and the personal problems that some of them have with their parents. This prologue with the young veeres and the set-up to their parent’s conflicts, luckily, is the worst part of the film because of the utterly terrible acting from all the adolescent actors in which the dialogue delivery feels so fake that this segment of the film could have easily aired on an MTV reality show. Unluckily, even once the adult veeres show up, things don’t really get much better.
The central narrative of the film focuses on Kalindi Puri (Kareena Kapoor Khan, trying hard to add more depth to an uninteresting character) dealing with her conflict to come to terms with her neglectful father, and also to come to terms with her impending marriage with Rishabh (an underused Sumeet Vyas). But, because the makers feel this is too thin a narrative to hinge a 125-minute film on, they also have individual narrative threads for each of the veeres. So, in a very expensive imported blender, the makers throw in a plot of Avni (Sonam Kapoor, perfectly fine when not trying to do broad comedy) facing pressure of marriage from her mother, a scenario of Sakshi (Swara Bhaskar) facing societal pressure because of her divorce, and another episode of Meera (Shikha Talsania) facing pressures of becoming a mother. These narratives are, moreover, sprinkled with subplots involving other supporting characters (more like stereotypes) and, more importantly, the common problem that all the veeres share – that they haven’t had sex in a while.
Rather than using the abundance of these narratives to create a sense of ordered chaos, director Ghosh and screenwriters Nidhi Mehra and Mehul Suri instead construct this film in such a clumsy, and ill-disciplined way that “Veere Di Wedding” just appears chaotic. The first half of the film, in particular, strangely emphasizes the importance of these individual narrative threads for the protagonists over the moments of them bonding together. The first time all the adult veeres meet is oddly glimpsed over, the details of the dialogue pushed to the background by showing all the girls laughing in slow motion with the fun song “Veere” playing over these images. Then, the film proceeds in the most tone-deaf way (look out for the ring engagement scene) to show each of the protagonist’s conflicts, all of which are both amateurishly set up and unengaging. These scenes with the other supporting characters are the ones that feel the most forced in their use of cussing, as it never feels necessary or adds anything to any character and, in fact, only makes the dialogue sound more cringe-worthy.
To possibly make these inane dialogues like, “Tu bahar se satti hain, par andar se slutty hain” (innocent by look, horny by nature) sound vaguely amusing, the director puts a background score that consists of the techno beats and bhangra beats from the song “Bhangra Ta Sajda” in the film’s soundtrack. If the filmmakers did this once, this might have added to the film’s experience, making it more enjoyable. But, Ghosh consistently insists on using this overbearing music to cover each scene, using it as a grating laughing track to hide the utter limpness of the dialogue and relationships between the characters.
The only time that dialogue and the relationships don’t particularly feel artificial is in the brief moments of rapport between the four girls, particularly, Sakshi and “Mother Dairy” Meera because the two actors manage to mine minor laughs out of even some of the lumpen dialogue. Both Swara Bhaskar and Shikha Talsania capture the rebellious spirit of their characters well, turning the somewhat forced effing-jeffing to something that does add to their characters frustrations. Bhaskar, in particular, brings a much-needed spontaneity which makes the brash Sakshi feel more humane than the script gives her the opportunity to do. Her bemused look at Avni’s suggestion that Meera still looks good and her takedown of the gossip aunties shows how much more the talented actress could have brought to the film had her character been better realized.
But, “Veere Di Wedding” clearly is not concerned about being that film. It’s a film that only wants to use the “female-centric” tag as an excuse to pass off an incredibly lazily written, perfunctorily directed and staggeringly unfunny film which happens to have four women at the center of it. Ekta Kapoor has already given us the male counterpoint to that with the “Kya Kool Hain Hum” series. Maybe, this is her attempt to achieve equality.