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  • Writer's pictureLauren

The APAHM Project Day 10: Wedding Season

Updated: May 12

Film: Wedding Season

Directed By: Tom Dey

Release: 2022

Where to Watch: Netflix 

Wanna Skip? Pick a Movie from APAHM Project 2023, 2022, 2021, 2020

Why It Made The List:

Written by Indian American Shiwani Srivastava, "Wedding Season" adds some much needed diversity to the heavily-white genre of cheesy rom-coms (i.e. Hallmark movies). Srivastava entered many screenwriting contests, eventually placing second in ScreenCraft's Comedy Competition in 2018. The film reached Netflix's Top 5 in its first week in 2022, totalling 19M watch hours in that time span. Starring Suraj Sharma and Pallavi Sharda, "Wedding Season" has a refreshing take that allows it to stand out from it's Hallmark counterparts, despite the formulaic storytelling.

My Thoughts:

Don't get me wrong, I love a good Hallmark movie as much as the next person. But the key word here is "good." There have been plenty of Hallmark duds and usually you can tell from the preview alone that it's not going to satisfy your rom-com itch. And what I find many of these Hallmark movies are lacking are the comedy part of the Rom Com. They are simply not funny. The flirty banter falls short and the movie is predictable. A woman has to overcome an obstacle at work and return to her roots/home town/family to solve the problem. She falls in love, the guy she falls for has some sort of misinterpreted interaction with another woman, the man explains it was all a misunderstanding, and they live happily ever after. You've seen one bad Hallmark movie, you've seen them all. And here is where "Wedding Season" sets itself apart.

Although "Wedding Season" does follow a very similar formula, it is done well. There are genuine funny moments and the Desi influence adds to the humor and charm that so many Hallmark movies lack. The film starts off with Asha's mother making her daughter a dating profile. While not entirely a lie, the profile is also far from the truth. Asha left behind a successful banking job to work at a micro finance startup. Her goal is to create a lending initiative so women in Southeast Asia can start their own businesses. Asha agrees to meet one man from the dating site if it means her mother will take down her profile. However, the mother adds to this condition, and that is that Asha is to attend every wedding they are invited to this summer in hopes that she will meet a man.

Asha then meets Ravi, the man from the dating site. Asha tells Ravi immediately that she isn't interested and is only there because her mother set up her profile. Later, Ravi and Asha meet again at a wedding where the nosey aunties hear their date did not go well. In an attempt to have the aunties mind their own business, Asha claims the date went well and that she and Ravi are dating. Ravi and Asha then agree to be fake dates to all the weddings so that the community leaves them and their dating lives alone. Cue my favorite trope: fake dating.

Other tropes include that Ravi has a successful yet unconventional job (international DJ), Asha works hard to close the deal on the Southeast Asia division and simply has no time to date (puts her work first), Asha and Ravi fall for each other, disappointed parents, a secret (Ravi dropped out of MIT), the breakup (Ravi donated money to Asha's initiative to help close the deal), and the misunderstanding (Asha finds Ravi with a woman who turns out to be his cousin). Asha's father provides life advice and convinces her to take her job promotion overseas. Asha's sister gets married and Ravi and Asha reunite. The film ends with a fun dance number and the end, roll credits.

Now that we have the plot down, let's talk about the elements that makes this movie stand out. One of the first things I noticed is that many of the weddings Asha and Ravi attend are not strictly Indian. There is a mixture of couples getting married: Hindu and Muslim, Jewish and Hindu, Indian and white. When the Hindu and Muslim couple make their speech, they state their parents did not attend the wedding but that they loved each other and were happy to celebrate. Asha says that the parents being present and the couple's happiness should not be a choice and that it was unfortunate that the parents couldn't be there on their special day. Priya's (Asha's sister) fiancé Nick is a white man who tries learning Hindi, eats spicy foods, and makes Indian-inspired cocktails to show that Priya's culture is important to him. Priya states she wishes Nick would just be himself and that her parents already approve of him (it helps that he is a doctor). However, Nick emphasizes that planning an Indian wedding is scarier than performing surgery. Although Nick butchers his Hindu vows to Priya, she loves him for trying. Nick could have easily been written as a goofy white guy who sticks out like a sore thumb, but his intentions are genuine and therefore he avoids falling into this "dumb white guy" sterotype.

Asha's parents are a great source of comic relief. The dad has some great quips and both actors have good comedic timing. There is a scene where the mother places $20 bills in multiple offering boxes and the dad follows behind her, replacing them with ones. This moment was genuinely funny and specific to Asian culture that made it relatable as well. Asha's parents had an arranged marriage. Her mother loved another boy but he was not in the same caste as her family. She vowed that if she ever had daughters, she would allow them to choose love. Ravi's parents are a little more strict. His father is constantly warning him not to reveal the truth, which is that Ravi dropped out of MIT and is working as a DJ. Ravi's parents own a restaurant which occasionally gets very large catering orders that pay well. It turns out Ravi is the one placing these orders to indirectly support the restaurant. His parents express they want Ravi to have a better life than the restaurant and wishes they could get back time they lost with Ravi. He explains that he is here now and that DJ'ing is his job, not a hobby. In the end, the parents publicly support Ravi and they reconcile.

Usually in a Hallmark movie, the woman uses her "back to her roots" experience to help with her work problems. It's usually something flimsy that wouldn't fly in the real world. However, I like how "Wedding Season" approaches this. Asha is struggling to find "the story" that will convince the Singapore reps to invest in their pitch. Ravi tells Asha that she is the story. When giving her pitch, Asha tells the story of her grandfather's boat, and how through a loan, he was able to grow his business and send his son to college, who in turn sent Asha to school. The life she has is because of that single loan. I think that this approach is much more engaging than the typical plot point in the cheesy Hallmark rom coms. Ravi didn't inspire Asha's pitch, but he reminded her of what she already knew. This story is heart-felt and carries weight. It is a concrete example of how the Singaporean investment would pay off.

Lastly, when Asha is struggling on whether to leave her family for her promotion in London, her father tells her about his time working in finance. His boss, a white man, told him that Indians are good at numbers but will never be leaders. Seeing Asha be such an idealist made him scared that Asha's dreams would be crushed like his were. But he admits that times have changed and he supports Asha and her job. Her job and success is worth celebrating just as much as a potential engagement to Ravi. I like how both her father's heart-to-heart and her mother's conversation about the arranged marriage didn't feel forced. It was natural and directly related to Asha's current situations. Sometimes these heart-to-hearts can feel like they come from left field, but that is not the case with "Wedding Season."

In Conclusion:

Letterboxd user Vissi states in her review "if white people are allowed to enjoy a plethora of mediocre romcoms then so are we." And even though Netflix's "Wedding Season" is a bit mediocre, there's a sort of relief to that. A relief that we don't need some high brow, A24-level movie to emphasize the hardships we face, the sacrifices we make, the daily prejudices we endure. We can simply have a feel-good movie like everyone else. One that focuses on the characters just being mundane, mediocre, and normal. One where the most interesting part of them isn't their race. I think "Wedding Season" is an excellent example of this. It wasn't ever trying to be more than what it was. We don't need to give a reason why Asians need rom-coms too. I always get so excited to see Asian-centric rom-coms because it means that we are allowed to fall in love. We can be diserable. We are not objectified or overly sexualized. That falling in love is not just for two, conventionally attractive Westerners, but for everyone.

Shout Out!

Today I would like to give a shout out to Modi Toys! Modi was created by brother-sister duo Viral and Avani. Viral searched for a gift that his expected daughter could treasure from childhood to adulthood. Having found nothing, Viral asked why are there no stuffed toys for Hindus? Modi Toys are plushies of different Hindu deities that also speak mantras! Additionally, Modi Toys sells books and crochet sets, which make perfect gifts for the little ones.

If You Liked This, You Might Also Like:

To All The Boys I've Loved Before on Netflix

Love Hard on Netflix

Love Again on Netflix

One True Loves on Hulu

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