wogma rating: Watch some time, some day, but for sure (?)
When Hari Got Married is a tiny 75-minute documentary that tells us the story of a marriage in the India that we don’t normally get to see. A simple, uncomplicated film about taxi driver Hari and his wedding, the film otherwise doesn’t offer much else, because of the manner in which the filmmakers have adhered to their objective – the story of when Hari got married.Read more
Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam’s documentary When Hari Got Married is a simple and unassuming film that follows 30-year old taxi driver Hari in the lead up to his arranged marriage. While the film does warm your heart, I’m still grappling with whether I want to recommend the film or not.
Hari is set to marry a young girl named Suman. Though the couple doesn’t ever get the chance to spend any time together prior to their marriage, Hari manages to get hold of Suman’s phone number. Thus ensuring at least some level of ‘courtship’.
The phone conversations that Hari has with Suman and Hari’s narration of his experiences as he goes through with the wedding preparations make you smile. Hari is resourceful and smart, yes. But he is also a simpleton, almost naïve. (Then again, that naivety may only be an urban writer’s perception of him, based on a few nuggets of his life captured on video.) As the film follows Hari and we acquaint ourselves with his uncomplicated worldview, we see just how traditional most of India still is.
In fact, traditionalism and conservativeness apart, what comes through the most in the film is just how deep gender biases have penetrated our society. Suman, for example, properly sets eyes on Hari for the first time when she is actually getting married to him. It is endearing and a little heart-breaking to think of that diminutive little woman getting ready to spend her life with a man who she wouldn’t recognize unless he was pointed out to her.
Even Hari, a good man no doubt, still seems to think that the wedding is an ordeal for the man more than the woman. He gives off the air of someone who is about to accept a burden more than anything else. And it isn’t his fault really; it is about his surroundings and where he comes from.
Credit, then, to the filmmakers Sarin and Sonam, who don’t try to milk the story for any sensationalism or for highlighting any burning issues plaguing small-town India. Their focus is Hari and his wedding, and everything else is about the flavour and texture of all that goes with it and the place and culture of where the film is set. The film, then, is more like a wedding video than anything else.
And that, primarily, is what causes me to be unsure of how much I should recommend this film. It is honest, endearing and mature, but what does one truly take away from the film, apart from the fact that we know Hari and Suman had an arranged marriage? Little else, to be honest. Personally speaking, though, I’m glad that I now know about the existence of Hari, Suman and their angelic daughter somewhere in the hills of Dharamsala; because they will find a place in my prayers henceforth.
This review is by guest reviewer Pradeep Menon. Pradeep is a filmmaker and a dreamer. He loves books, rain, winters, tea and his parents. Cinema, however, is the only truth he believes in. He breathes and bleeds film, mostly in hues of saffron, white, green and blue. You can watch his short films at www.youtube.com/cyberpradeep.
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