Confessions of shy bride: How I turned to films to survive the chaos of my winter wedding

To beat the chaos of my wedding prep, I turned to films, especially centred on weddings. Not to look for any aesthetic ideas, but to soak myself into an emotional marathon.

Ragini Daliya December 05, 2021 11:06:13 IST
Confessions of shy bride: How I turned to films to survive the chaos of my winter wedding

When the going gets tough, we turn to our favourite guilty pleasures. But when entertainment is concerned, is there even any guilt to what gives one pleasure? In our new series Pleasure Without Guilt, we look at pop offerings that have been dissed by the culture police but continue to endure as beacons of unadulterated pleasure.

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I got engaged at the onset of the second wave of coronavirus, two days before Maharashtra went under complete lockdown. My in-laws drove from Mumbai, and we pulled together a small, intimate ceremony in the backyard of my home. It was simple, surrounded by my closest loved ones, and beautiful.

A month after the engagement, the Instagram algorithm picked on my new status, and so began the curse of wedding reels. It was these reels and wedding videos that showed me how the most ‘big day’ wants are nothing but well-curated aesthetics: The colourful scenery, artistic camera angles, and sentimental scores to dazzle viewers. I was intrigued and completely overwhelmed by the scale of it and soon found myself swallowed by the black hole. I follow 10 weddings pages now; one regularly updates on ‘trending’ bride and groom entry songs and ‘successful’ sangeet tips, while some other features ‘gorgeous, youthful’ outfits. The doomed internet scrolling did not serve me any wedding inspiration, but prompted a new conversation with my father: “Do I really want the extravagance? Or rather did I ever.”

I have loved watching wedding films for as long as I remember. Mandap, saath phere. joota chhupaai (Love you always, Hum Aapke Hain Koun...!). Blindingly colourful clothes. Simpering bride. Shy/Enthu-cutlet groom. Each of these elements has been a Hindi cinema fixture for decades, packaged with song, dance and drama.

Confessions of shy bride How I turned to films to survive the chaos of my winter wedding

A still from Din Shagna Da| YouTube

However, while I enjoy watching the big fat Indian wedding on the silver screen, it is not something I ever fancied for my own. I never aspired to be a Sabyasachi bride and walk down the aisle on ‘Din Shagna Da.’ Also, a desire to have a small wedding was snubbed away even before I could utter it out loud. Nevertheless, it was all too easy to get caught up in the prep, giant guest list discussions, packing-unpacking, outfit and gift ideas, financial strain and the mental fatigue it brought with it.

After tons of frantic texts to friends, heart-to-heart discussions with parents, overflowing the thinking tank and striking out ‘maybe it's just wedding jitters,’ I turned to films, especially centred on weddings. Not to look for any ideas, but to soak myself into an emotional marathon. For me, the greatest wedding movies aren’t married to a formula subdued to romantic comedies — but they are committed to emotion, authenticity, and truth.

For instance, Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding is a brewing cauldron of the modern and the traditional, showcasing the tussle between convention and individual freedom. It follows the events in the large Verma family of Delhi, as their daughter Aditi (Vasundhara Das) prepares to marry Hemant (Parvin Dabas), a computer programmer from Houston, Texas. He is an “NRI”, who has returned to meet the bride selected by his parents for an arranged marriage. Monsoon Wedding embraces all of it - realistic examination of family dynamics, chaos of the ‘big day’ prep, a constantly worried father-of-the-bride, an entire village of relatives – and places an uncomfortable truth in midst of merriment of a wedding.

My favourite part is of Naseeruddin Shah as Lalit Verma, the irascible father of the bride who when isn’t pulling favours to finance his daughter’s big day, battles with the wily wedding organiser PK Dubey (Vijay Raaz). Frazzled to his wits, Lalit is seen complaining for most part of the film either about the wedding tent (A white tent? Is this a wedding or a funeral?), budget or calling out his ‘stupid, bewakoof’ nephew’s incompetence. However, in a cathartic scene, Lalit doesn’t shy away to showcase his emotions either, and frequently voices his concern over parting away from his daughter.

Confessions of shy bride How I turned to films to survive the chaos of my winter wedding

I see a bit of Lalit in my father as well who is known as a ‘cool parent’ among my peers. I see my father frazzled and emotional as well, but he is also equally charged up for the wedding, pulling out a list of ‘father-daughter' songs to dance to at the sangeet. I am most grateful for him to be a pillar of sanity amidst the commotion. While he acknowledged my decision to opt for a small wedding, he also made me understand that sometimes we are bound by certain social obligations. Moreover, the wedding becomes an event for them and their social happening, as much as it is for the actual bride and groom.

In Monsoon Wedding, I couldn’t stop smiling when the entire family spontaneously starts singing ‘O gore gore’ on the dining table during a get-together and the final scene in the rain when everyone is furthering to the mandap to finish the wedding rituals.

It was moments like these when I realised that it was never about the materialistic route my wedding will be taking, but the togetherness and warmth it has brought at home. There is a lot of noise, hustle, chaos, laughter and even fights but that is probably what I will miss the most. The noise, most of all.

A day before I pitched this piece, I was ‘participating’ in a wedding prep discussion with my parents, when a congratulatory message popped up from an old friend. Minutes into the conversation, a text said, “I still can’t believe you are getting married.” I wasn’t surprised at the thought, for I went through the same ordeal with a lot of my other friends as well.

To break the news of my engagement, I had created a new Whatsapp group specifically including all of my close friends, named it as ‘Breaking News’ and typed a long message summarising it to – Well, she’s done it. I was blatantly asked to provide photos, proofs, calls were made to cross-check the authenticity of the news. This reminded me of Kalki Koechlin’s Aditi from Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani who sends out a video message to her nomadic friend Bunny (Ranbir Kapoor) to invite him to her wedding.

Confessions of shy bride How I turned to films to survive the chaos of my winter wedding

While I am not much of a fan of the movie because of its tested, boring premise of opposites attract, the chemistry between friends is what keeps me bringing back to it. I and my friends haven’t been to the Himalayas to do any soul-searching, fought off goons in a crowded market, or witnessed gorgeous sunsets over the Rajasthan skyline, instead, we proudly own a few failed travel plans, share glorious memories from house parties, have witnessed sunrises over Marine Drive and often recollect about my long-standing beef with a group member (No, he’s not the Avi of our group, but also isn’t invited to the wedding).

I am also no vagabond like Bunny but have known to be extremely self-consumed that I often forget to check upon my people. Nevertheless, I am learning, just like him, to forgive others, to forgive myself. Throughout my learnings, I have been extremely lucky to have friends who are patient enough to understand that life gets us busy just like how Aditi understood Bunny.

I am not getting married at an Udaipur palace, and definitely not throwing a lavish cocktail party to have some drunk fellow break thousand champagne glasses in slow-motion. Instead, I am pretty sure I will be having a lot of fun despite the minimal extravagance due to the people around me. Moreover, the best thing in the world is probably that when you’re done with it, no matter if it was a big or small, wedding, the relationship, satisfactorily sanctioned as a marriage now, is pretty much the only thing that should matter.

Confessions of shy bride How I turned to films to survive the chaos of my winter wedding

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Now, weeks closer to the holy matrimony, I find myself ranting to my sister-in-law about not wanting to be in the spotlight during the ceremony. “Can I start a petition that says ‘Save shy brides from the hullabaloo of weddings?” my introverted self complains.

"No one would sign it, maybe I would have but you can't escape from being a bride," she countered like the wise person she is. ‘Just smile even if you don’t understand whatever’s happening. If nothing else, you will atleast have good photos out of it.’

Well, I still have moments of anxiety, maybe about the wedding, of a new life or just about everything in general. Films don't tell us what happens after the guests leave, the decor is taken down and puffy wedding outfits are tucked away. Mabe that is probably a rant for some other day, some other series. Or maybe, when I am back from my five-week-long leave. (Stay tuned, reader!)

For now, hoping to recreate the popular Virat-Anushka, Ranveer-Deepika wedding capture. A perfect candid Instagram-worthy moment, all wide smiles for no effing reason and captured specifically while looking away from the camera.

Read more from the Pleasure Without Guilt series here.

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