Indian weddings – who doesn’t hate them? The movies don’t, however, and always find an excuse to celebrate the ceremony that accompanies the socially sanctioned union of humans.
Namrata Singh Gujral’s 5 Weddings finds a clever way to weave together rituals with observational comedy. The movie stars Rajkummar Rao as Harbhajan, a Chandigarh police inspector saddled with ensuring that visiting American journalist Shania (Nargis Fakhri) doesn’t get up to any trouble. Shania is half-Indian and half-American, and has been assigned by her fashion website to do a story on Indian wedding ceremonies.
I can’t think of two things I hate more – India and weddings, Shania declares. But she has another reason to be in Chandigarh. Her American mother (Bo Derek in her second Indian movie after Boom), has told her to look for her estranged father.
The culture clash comedy has some strong bits, but there is little here that feels novel or particularly insightful. Shania’s alienation from local practices produces its share of gags, while her encounters with a bunch of transgenders tick off the social responsibility box. The relationship between Shania and Harbhajan always struggles to be convincing, and without the requite sparks, doesn’t give Shania’s journey the emotional undertow it deserves.
Rajkummar Rao picks up his pay cheque with utmost professionalism, while the American Bollywood hopeful Nargis Fakhri benefits vastly from speaking in her own voice, for a change. Fakhri isn’t dubbed by an Indian local, as she usually is in her Hindi films, but she still doesn’t have the heft to carry off such material. Rajkummar Rao does, but he doesn’t have too much to do. The film is content in its modesty, but it doesn’t quite work as an intimate and closely observed drama either.