The representation of Indian-Americans in American sitcoms and films has always been too stereotypical – they have to be nerds, dressed in tacky Indian costumes and have a questionable accent. Most Indian viewers never related to any of these tropes. While the latest OTT offering Wedding Season continues with some of these tropes, it also offers a fresh view of Indian-Americans sailing their way through the land of opportunity.
The film starts with a familiar emotional turmoil every single adult with desi roots goes through at home when they turn 30, with parents rushing them to get married. Asha Maurya, played by Pallavi Sharda, has to deal with a panic-stricken mother who has made a profile of her on a matrimonial site without her permission. For Asha, who was a banker earlier and left her job to be in microfinance to help the underprivileged, marriage is the last thing on her checklist. But her breakup with her fiancé has led her mother to think that she might not ever get married.
Desperate to get her daughter hitched, she sets up Asha with a guy called Ravishankar Shah, played by Suraj Sharma, who apparently went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT) and has a start-up. In short, he is an ideal match, according to Asha’s Indian parents. However, Ravi’s situation is also similar to that of Asha, as it was his dad who has set his profile up on the matrimonial site with lucrative details to find a perfect match for his son. Just to keep their parents’ words, Asha and Ravi agree to meet.
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Wedding Season Review: Breaking gender stereotypes
Asha is shown to be an independent career-oriented woman who doesn’t shy away from putting herself first and acknowledging her capabilities. Even though we see a lot of independent women on screens, somewhere it is fed to us that putting yourself first makes you selfish and lonely. Wedding Season needs to be applauded for not making a single Indian woman look pitiful at any point. She is proud of what all she has achieved and expects others around her to do so as well.
Desi styling done right, finally!
Finally, after soring our eyes with the tackiest of outfits in most American sitcoms for the Indian-origin characters forever, Wedding Season had some tasteful and relatable outfits. We see Asha dress up as any other Indian woman would at weddings in India. And the jacket she wears towards the ending of the movie is beautiful and to some extent brings out the beauty of the handloom of India.
The film also breaks stereotypes on how Indian-American women dress in their day-to-day life as we see Asha in chic yet working woman-friendly clothes, that suit her personality and the fact that she is living the United States, not India.
Desi feminist fathers get a nod
The character of Vijay Maurya, played by Rizwan Manji- who appeared in Schitt’s Creek earlier, is shown to be a loving and supportive father. Throughout the entire movie, Asha is haunted by the expectations of her mother to find the right guy and get married. And every time her mother says something nearly offensive it is Asha’s dad who tries to compensate and fix the situation. From reminding his daughter that her parents are very proud of her achievements to telling her that she should marry only when she is ready, Asha’s dad is her pillar of strength. Vijay is also a fun character who keeps saying basic idioms and dispenses non-stop advice to the whole family.
When Asha gets a big promotion and it causes a turmoil in the family, it is her father who is the most excited about it. His face lights up as his daughter announces her ‘big news’. Towards the end of the film, Asha’s dad takes her for a walk to help her make a decision while she is going through an emotional crisis. He talks about the hurdles he had to go through as an Indian guy in the US but how his daughter has fulfilled his dreams too.
From hearing Amrish Puri say “Ja Simran ja, jee le apni zindagi” in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge to his daughter to be with the love of her life to Vijay Maurya saying, “Ja beti. You deserve it. Have the experience of a lifetime,” to his daughter for her dream job is a whole circle we completed.
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Wedding Season might not be the most accurate representation of Indian culture but we’ve come a long way and it’s good to see the small strides being taken to set the narrative right. One wishes that mothers were not stereotyped as marriage-obsessed being who constantly hound their daughters and berate them for putting their careers first. Many Indian moms today will tell their daughters to be financially independent and never let a guy or a marriage prospect from achieving their dreams. Can pop culture reflect this sentiment with apt representation now, please?
Views expressed are the author’s own.