Monsoon Wedding (Madman Ent) (2001)

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Released 14-Feb-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Romantic Comedy Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Audio Commentary
Theatrical Trailer
Interviews-Crew-Mira Nair (Director)
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Awards
Trailer-Swing; The Closet; Divided We Fall; Kandahar
Trailer-A Time For Drunken Horses; Molokai; The Circle
Notes-Soundtrack
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 109:15
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (109:15) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Mira Nair
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Naseeruddin Shah
Lillete Dubey
Shefali Shetty
Vijay Raaz
Tilotama Shome
Vasundhara Das
Parvin Dabas
Kulbhushan Kharbanda
Kamini Khanna
Rajat, I Kapoor
Neha Dubey
Kemaya Kidwai
Ishaan Nair
Case Click
RPI ? Music Mychael Danna


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Perfectly blending traditional Indian Punjabi culture with the dot.com society it has become today, Indian-born director Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding is a gem. With her film nominated for many awards, including the Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes, and Best Film not in the English Language at the BAFTA Awards, Nair received the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival. A romantic comedy at heart, the film is an ensemble of sorts, dealing with many characters in the lead-up to a traditional Indian wedding.

    Still in love with her now-married ex-boyfriend, Aditi (Vasundhara Das) is to wed in an arranged marriage. Unhappy about the situation she is in, Aditi still just wants to settle down, even if it is not with the man of her choice. Right up to the eve of her wedding, Aditi is meeting up with her lover in private, which eventually catches up with her. The groom-to be deals with this in a way that surprises Aditi, resulting in a change of affection. Meanwhile, her family and friends frantically prepare for the big day, and we see the lead up from many different points of view. This is Monsoon Wedding’s real strength, the fact that there is not one or two, or even three main characters - there are many. The ensemble cast play their roles to perfection, in particular Vasundhara Das as Aditi, Vijay Raaz who plays the awkwardly lovable wedding planner P.K.Dubey, and Aditi’s parents played brilliantly by Naseeruddin Shah and Lillete Dubey.

    Directing up a visual storm, Mira Nair (Salaam Bombay, Mississippi Masala, Kama Sutra) impressed me in this, my first encounter with her work. Whipping up some eye candy to go with an intelligently written script, and an excellent cast, she turned Monsoon Wedding into a film that everyone could enjoy. It’s a pity that so many great films out there are unappreciated by the masses, simply because some people detest reading subtitles, especially since the only foreign films that hit our screens are the cream of the crop, whereas everything that comes out of Hollywood reaches our shores, no matter how good or bad it is. If you're willing, give this light-hearted film a go, because there is definitely at least one important ingredient to foreign films that Hollywood cannot contend with - being non-Hollywood.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Whether it’s the frenetic streets of Delhi, or the Mardi Gras-like wedding, Nair has created a beautiful looking film, which is represented very well on this DVD.

    Monsoon Wedding appears in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

    Sharpness is one of the transfer’s stronger facets, offering a nice amount of detail to the film. Shadows and black levels are dead on, complementing the film’s bright visuals perfectly. Light grain is visible for most of the film, which never becomes distracting to the eye, and that is the only thing keeping this transfer from being reference quality.

    The many wonderful bright colours that feature throughout the film are the other strong point to this transfer. It would be unjust if the colour levels were muted for this transfer, as they are one of the film’s numerous enjoyable aspects. Not the case here though, Nair's vivid colour palette looks fantastic.

    Thankfully, there was no sign of edge enhancement, or any MPEG artefacts. Film artefacts were also virtually non-existent, being only very occasionally visible, and only if you looked hard enough for them.

    English subtitles are selectable, for only the non-English language dialogue. They are not burned into the print, and are nicely presentable, yellow in colour.

    The layer change occurs at 69.52, and is not intrusive.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio transfer for Monsoon Wedding is good, if not outstanding. It gets the job done admirably, without becoming unnecessarily flashy.

    The audio is presented in English, Hindi and Punjabi Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0. Some characters only speak English, and the rest speak a bit of all three. There were a couple of times that I paused before deciphering between the three languages, as their accents tend to be strong, but it was not a fault of this transfer, only my hearing.

    Apart from that, the dialogue was perfect throughout, and was never distorted. Audio sync was also perfect, never missing a beat.

    The film’s wonderful score by Mychael Danna (The Hulk, Hearts in Atlantis, Girl Interrupted, The Ice Storm, Kama Sutra) comes across very well in this mix, being the strongest part of the audio transfer. Complimenting the visuals perfectly, the music featured a nice mix of traditional music with contemporary beats, fitting in with the overall theme greatly.

    Surround channel usage was kept minimal, only coming into play when necessary, such as adding atmosphere to rain or thunder, or slight support for music.

    The subwoofer saw more action though, adding some nice bass to the score, especially towards the end of the film, when it started thumping around to the music.

    Overall, this is a very satisfying mix, in that it never goes out of its way to impress the audience, but perfectly complements the film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Audio & Animation

    A white screen is followed by the film’s title and menu options, with flower petals from the wedding falling down the screen. To the top right of frame, photographs of some of the film’s many characters fade in and out, and all this is supported by a take from the film’s score. Fairly basic, but attractive menus.

Featurette-Behind The Scenes - (7.58)

    Presented in full-frame video and Dolby stereo audio, this brief segment is presented by the Independent Film Channel, and consists of snippets from interviews with the main players, intercut with clips from the film. Just your usual promotional fluff.

Audio Commentary

    This screen-specific audio commentary from director Mira Nair is the most worthy extra on the disc, and it is full of information. Full of behind-the-scenes stories and tidbits, Nair keeps the listener's interest from start to finish. She states early on that she intended to get across the sense of how the Punjabis are ‘intoxicated with life’, which is one of the many areas she succeeded in. She makes mention of auditioning 500 people, including actors and her own friends and family, to fill the roles of 60 characters. Mira Nair comes across as a very intelligent and charming person who is a real treat to listen to.

Theatrical Trailer – (2.13)

    Presented in non 16x9 enhanced widescreen, with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

Mira Nair Interview – (8.50)

    Conducted by the SBS Movie Show’s Margaret Pomerantz, although she never appears onscreen, or in voice (apart from a laugh at the very end), this interview gives some insight into Nair’s motivations and inspirations for Monsoon Wedding, including the fact that it is partly very loosely based on her own family. She discusses the production a bit, and is very easy to listen to – as with the commentary. This interview is a tad impersonal, due to questions in text rather than speech, but it still goes nicely with the commentary.

Biographies-Cast & Crew

    Standard biographies for 10 actors and the director, with no filmographies unfortunately.

Awards

    Text screen mentioning awards the film won, and came runner-up in.

Soundtrack

    Text screen advertising the film’s soundtrack.

Madman Propaganda

    This consists of trailers for other Madman titles including:

    Divided We Fall and Kandahar join The Closet on my ‘to rent’ list.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version of this DVD misses out on the following:

    The Region 4 version of this DVD misses out on the following:

    The obvious choice is the local release, due to the beautiful 16x9 enhanced PAL transfer. As far as featurettes go, I’m uncertain of the differences between the two we get, and the one Region 1 gets. The combined running time of the two on the Region 4 disc is 16.48, whereas the Region 1 featurette only runs 12 minutes. Unless you need both, the Region 4 version is best.

Summary

    Monsoon Wedding is a very entertaining film, from a very talented director. Featuring a myriad of characters, played perfectly by some top actors, there is nothing to dislike about the film. I wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone who is in for a night of good quality wholesome viewing.

    The video transfer is nigh on reference quality, only set back by some slight grain which is never distracting.

    The audio transfer is wholly satisfying, in that it never goes over-the-top, and perfectly fits the film.

    The extra features are quite good, with the commentary track being the real standout.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Pockett (If you're really bored, you can read my bio...)
Sunday, October 06, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-525, using Component output
DisplayTeac 82cm 16x9. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
Speakers5 Sony speakers; Sherwood 12" 100w Powered Subwoofer

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