Hindi movie weddings cover the full range of human experience. The grand wedding (pricier by the minute). The simple wedding (often on the run). The getaway wedding (in an exotic location with non-traditional props). The shotgun wedding (the bride is, gasp, pregnant). The wedding at gunpoint (usually involves a kidnapped bride or groom). The mistaken groom or bride wedding (so easy to blame face-covering garlands). The I-am-marrying-the-wrong-groom or bride wedding (usually involves money troubles). The squabbling-kin wedding (disapprovals galore). The rural wedding (often closest to traditional rituals). The urban wedding (larger crowds invite wedding crashers). Then there is the outdoor wedding (pretty yet not easy to stage). The tent event wedding (usually involves extended dancing). The inheritance wedding (do it and gain everything). The disinheritance wedding (do it and lose everything). The big fat wedding (drama central, often with relatives from overseas). The already-married groom or bride wedding (secrets revealed half-way through the fire ritual). The non-stop crying wedding (that includes the bride and groom). The secret temple wedding with no mortal witnesses (enough said). The highly efficient a-blood drop-from-the-groom’s-thumb-and-the-parting-on-the-bride’s-forehead wedding (modest pain but very low cost).
Here is a list of the best Hindi movies with heavy wedding content over the years. Even though only a couple of these would bear resemblance to an actual “wedding video,” as a chronology they capture the changing focus on which wedding sub-rituals get expanded coverage over the years. Somehow, they all have to do with the size of the producer’s budget for staging the nuptials.
1. Grahasti (1963, D: Kishore Sahu): The case of the three missing brides for the three brothers with lots of “will they” or “won’t they” be allowed to marry intrigue. Features stellar casting of Ashok Kumar, Nirupa Roy, Manoj Kumar and Rajshri.
2. Rishtey Naatey (1965, D: K.S. Gopalakrishnan): Three weddings and a funeral. Along with Raj Kumar and Jamuna, it features the great Nutan as the Other Woman. The lush Madan Mohan-Lata Mangeshkar score is a keepsake, the best from this list.
3. Saraswatichandra (1968, D: Govind Saraiya): Jilted upper-crust bride-to-be (Nutan) engages her ex-beau (Manish) in a letter-writing exchange that leads to surprising results. Kalyanji-Anandji’s soundtrack is the duo’s best work.
4. Doli (1969, D: A. Subba Rao): The bride weeps. The groom is sad. There is lots of crying. One of superstar Rajesh Khanna’s 15 consecutive box office hits, this one with Babita.
5. Dulhan Wohi Jo Piya Man Bhaye (1977, D: Lekh Tandon). With the actual fashion model bride-to-be stranded in a Kashmir snowstorm, a shy flower-seller belle (Rameshwari) is asked to stand in as the bride of a rich groom (Prem Krishen) to fulfil his ailing grandfather’s final bucket list entry.
6. Hum Aap Ke Hain Koun (1994, D: Suraj Barjatya). A wedding that threatens to go on and on until a dog comes to the rescue. Blockbuster Salman Khan-Madhuri Dixit hit from the Rajshri label. Dixit’s striking outfits ignited a fashion frenzy and interest in non-traditional wedding-theme colors, such as a green-white combination.
7. Hum Saath Saath Hain (1999, D: Sooraj Barjatya). A quintessential feel-good Rajshri take on a wedding with stories that loosely follows the premise of the Hindu epic Ramayan. Most noteworthy for an all-star cast led by Salman Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Karishma Kapoor and Tabu.
8. Monsoon Wedding (2001, D: Mira Nair): Technically not an Indian movie (credit here goes to France, Italy, Germany and America) but a big fat Indian wedding movie set in Delhi with an Indian cast. For touching on non-nuptial thematic elements including child abuse, it is essentially a Western window on India.
9. Vivah (2006, D: Sooraj Barjatya): In another refined Rajshri offering, a wedding tape-worthy wedding plan gets put on flashing “Pause” when an accident befalls an important character. Noteworthy for making a small budget payoff big.
10. Tanu Weds Manu (2011, D: Anand L Rai): Combining comedy and virtually sumo wrestling with traditions, this new age wedding ensemble becomes that rarest of rare entries—an invitation to a stoner wedding courtesy of Mumbai.
Globe trekker, aesthete, photographer, ski bum, film buff, and commentator, Aniruddh Chawda writes from Milwaukee.