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HindustanTimes Wed,03 Sep 2014

A not-so-big-fat Indian wedding

Sarit Ray, Hindustan Times   September 01, 2013
First Published: 03:08 IST(1/9/2013) | Last Updated: 03:11 IST(1/9/2013)

Sarit Ray

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When Hari got married

(Documentary)

Direction: Ritu Sarin, Tenzing Sonam

Rating: ***

 

There’s a saying in Hindi about how the taste of water and the language spoken changes with every new town or village in India. The same could be said of wedding rituals.

Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam’s documentary (75 mins) looks like it’s been made for an international audience, but to its credit, it does not attempt to glamourise its subject.

The subject is an Indian wedding — not the lavish song-and-dance-in-Manish-Malhotra-lehengas that Bollywood has sold extensively, but a simple, village affair that provides a truer, more democratic picture.

Hari is a taxi driver in Dharamsala, and he’s agreed to an arranged marriage just because he knows it will make his father happy. In choosing to trace a male protagonist, the film avoids a cliché – that it’s only the woman in small-town India who makes compromises in an arranged marriage.

Hari’s met the girl just once, and he regrets that he wasn’t even able to see her face. All he remembers is how short she is, and that bothers him. He’s no Clint Eastwood, at 5 ft-something, but he’s worried his to-be-wife is “not even 4 ft…people make fun of short people”.

A still from the documentary When Hari got married.

Hari’s no trained actor, so his spontaneity before the camera is remarkable. He chats with the girl on phone, flirts even (their only way of getting to know each other, he says), speaks broken English and shows clarity of thought – “India is a magic country for foreigners because the dollar multiplies,” he says.

Though the rituals are unique, the expenses, the worried father, the spontaneous happiness that weddings bring are familiar. You wish, however, that there was a little less of the filmmakers on screen, and the questions they ask at times were not so generic.

Yet, as documentaries go, Hari… manages to do its job — capture a real story with a lot of honesty.

The documentary manages to do its job — capture a real story with a lot of honesty.

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