From `Hum Aapke Hain Koun!’ to ‘Shaandar’, the `weddingscape’ has undergone a drastic transformation. Allow me to trace these changes through the lens of popular Hindi cinema…

“I want to marry exactly the way Kalki (Koechlin) did in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (YJHD). The palace, the cocktail party, the sangeet (music ceremony), everything the Udaipur way!” Parul Gupta, a Mumbai-based wedding planner, still encounters clients from across the nation who demand a custom-made package for their “big day” just to live up to the “Karan Johar standards”.

A recent KJo production, Shaandar, which released in 2015, was billed as the “first destination wedding film of India”. The genre of `wedding movies’ has come a long way in the portrayal of weddings on the screen. The landscape has seen a metamorphosis from the traditional gharelu (domestic) weddings within the confines of one’s ancestral place to lavish destination weddings at exotic locales. However, what has remained at the core of weddings is the idea of celebration.

In a telephonic interview, Ajit Barjatya, Producer, Rajshri Productions, says, “Weddings are celebratory in nature. The scale, the place and the medium of celebration remains a personal choice. Our movies, like Hum Aapke Hain Koun! are family entertainers so we focus more on celebrating with the extended family, which lends a certain kind of warmth to weddings. However, destination wedding is now a common phenomenon which is yet another kind of celebration. In my eyes, the only major difference is the change in the venue.”

Barjatya does point out that the changing trend owes itself to the opening of the economy in 1991. Consumerism and capitalism became the focal point of the economy, and in turn, of the choices and preferences of the youth. The scale of weddings expanded and certain cities became the hotspots for destination weddings because of excellence in hospitality and abundance of scenic beauty.

Gupta says that wedding planning is almost like an investment decision now. She is the relationship manager for destination weddings in Rajasthan and Goa at Weddingz.in, a Mumbai-based wedding planning startup. “After movies like YJHD, forts and heritage hawelis (palaces) have become a favourite for dream weddings. That is the reason why numerous people have converted their ancestral property into commercial spaces to bank on the trend.” Other than Rajasthan and foreign locations, Goa fares well in the race of the most popular destination wedding venues. “Christians usually prefer Goa because of the large number of churches present in the state. Also, for a more fun experience, clients prefer beach weddings. Contrary to the rather formal weddings in the palaces, beach weddings are about “dressing down” and playing volleyball while your friends take the holy vows, like the one in Salaam Namaste,” she says. Interestingly, Goa was also the pick of the senior citizens’ `Second Innings’ club for the wedding of two of its members in Lage Raho Munnabhai.

With the fascination of destination weddings come practicalities like the travel fare of the guests. That is why destination wedding is gradually becoming a close-knit affair with invitation extended to only the immediate family and close friends. This is a consequence of increasing fragmentation of the traditional joint family and mushrooming of nuclear families all over India.

Fast forward to 2013. Yash Raj Films’ (YRF) Shuddh Desi Romance uses music to complement its narrative but unlike Rajshri Films, it doesn’t celebrate weddings or the traditional Indian culture. Instead, it addresses the youth’s commitment issues and unearths the shams of the big fat Indian wedding. Sachin Sanghvi of the music composer duo Sachin-Jigar says, “Since it revolves around weddings, you can call the film a wedding movie but there are no wedding songs in the film. It was a deliberate move on the creative team’s part to undo all the wedding stereotypes that YRF has created over the years. Now, they are also reflecting the contemporary times.” Having said that, Sachin believes that music is not an isolated “ear-plugged” affair. It can also be enjoyed collaboratively to celebrate a community occasion like wedding.

With all the glitz, moolah and glamour, wedding planning has become an industry of its own. Rochana Pandya, a Gurgaon-based wedding planner says, “Eight years ago, when I entered the business, there was hardly any player. After the release of Band Baaja Baaraat (B3), which explored the untapped potential of the profession, competition just skyrocketed. The business became more streamlined and it emerged as a separate industry than event management rather than being a branch of the latter.”

Pehle toh bua chacha taiji hi mil kar lete the shaadi, ab toh business ban gaya hai” (The family itself used to organize the weddings in those days, it has become a business now). This line from B3 sums up the essence of contemporary weddings – of the family, by the family and for the family.

Well, not anymore!

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