Shashanka Ghosh’s romcom Veere Di Wedding dives into the shallow end of the deep pool of female friendship. We first meet the four brave souls of the title as adolescents, and the movie never abandons its pre-adult views of marriage (a folly), friendship (a life saviour), alcohol (second only to water), sex (good for health), cigarettes (a stress-buster), profanity (an essential language enhancer) and fashion (to be followed at all times).
The screenplay, by Nidhi Mehra and Mehul Suri, is set among the ultra-rich of Delhi and revolves around a wedding that is to take place in the shadow of others that haven’t quite panned out. Kalindi (Kareena Kapoor) is having second thoughts about marrying her boyfriend Rishabh (Sumeet Vyas), the result of her parents’ break-up and the ostentation of Rishabh’s family. Her friends Sakshi (Swara Bhaskar), Avni (Sonam K Ahuja) and Meera (Shikha Talsania) rally around to support her while trying to swat away their own problems. The libertine Sakshi is in the middle of an ugly divorce. The prim and proper Avni is trying to persuade herself that an arranged match with Nirmal is the best way ahead for her. Meera has a happy enough marriage and a two-year-old son, so the plot manufactures problems for her – weight gain and an estranged father.
Bolstered by lavish wardrobes, unlimited expense accounts and acres of make-up, the four findouters set out to test the limits of friendship. No costume makes the mistake of being repeated (though we did spot a t-shirt twice on Sakshi); no symbol of luxury is left alone; no cliche in the female empowerment drama (including group hugs) is excluded.
This cross between Sex and the City and Bridesmaids works hard to raise eyebrows. The women swear freely, imbibe furiously and rail frequently against convention and hypocrisy. A holiday in Thailand is shoehorned into the plot just to allow the characters to visit strip clubs and prance about in swimwear. The female equivalent of locker-room banter flies around. Hip flasks emerge out of thin air. A pre-wedding ceremony descends into drunken chaos.
The chemistry between the actresses never feels fake, but the situations into which they are forced rarely seem convincing. Since the characters are mostly surrounded by indulgent elders, and the wealth on display protects from them from anything resembling reality, the debates about tradition and social restrictions are about as genuine as Avni’s false eye-lashes, which threaten to acquire motility of their own and secede from their owner. Kalindi’s strained relationship with her father (Anjum Rajabali) and his second wife Paromita (Ekavali Khanna) is described as a problem second only to rural drought but it’s treated as a crisis that results from misplacing the right shade of nail paint to match the day’s wear.
Far more entertaining than Kalindi’s hand-wringing and Avni’s manufactured crises are the shenanigans of Sakshi and Meera. Swara Bhaskar and Shikha Talsania have immense fun shooting off their potty mouths at regular intervals and playing along with the movie’s anything-goes quality. They nail the comedic tone that Veere Di Wedding tries too hard to deliver, unlike the other characters, whose individual efforts are eclipsed by the relentless goings-on. A sub-plot involving Kalindi’s gay uncle (Vivek Mushran) ends up being far more empowering than the achievements of the heroines, who remain slaves to their vanity kits and costume designers. Bold, yes; beautiful, but of course; brave, not quite.