Netflix 'The Big Day' Review: 'Big, Fat Indian Weddings' & everything wrong with the obsession!
Netflix manages to pick out the most ostentatious side of Indian weddings for its global audience, but you can count on us to call it out!
'Tis the season where you refresh your Instagram — only to come across at least three of your friends posing for their wedding photos on their stories! The reason why we're able to say this with absolute certainty is that 'Indian weddings' (more often than not) are the same everywhere. The extravagance and fanfare spread out over a span of six to ten days, the bride and the groom exhaustingly smiling for a hundred people — and others (like us) eyeing the sumptuous spread that the caterers have handpicked for the occasion. While we're not against the idea of a grand celebration, the thought of it in itself is wearying! And let us not tread into the amount of money spent on the occasion.
The Big Day on Netflix does a reasonably decent job of portraying weddings in India — albeit on a lot larger scale! Chapter one of the three-part docu-series maps the course of six couples on their wedding day. Every episode (which is an hour-long) covers everything — planning, plotting and executing.
Right from the beginning of chapter one, episode one, the awe-striking visuals will sweep you off your feet (and remind you of your meagre paychecks). However, to call it a 'reality' television show would be a stretch in itself as the makers are very clear about their audience.
Episode one begins with a flattering shot of the Bishangarh fort in Jaipur before moving to Divya & Aman, who've chosen the destination for their 'big day'. The episode also covers Nikitha & Mukund, who, on their journey to be 'culturally close' to their roots, end up spending a boatload of money on their wedding. And while the tasteless display of wealth for both the weddings was -- more or less -- the same, we couldn't help but fall in love with Divya's idea to be more 'local'. On the other hand, Nikitha's need to be close to her roots seemed almost superficial after throwing a Victorian-themed party for her guests. You might be quick to disregard the grooms in the series as the episode progresses, but Aman's involvement was almost endearing. Mukund's indifference, on the other hand, was nothing short of obnoxious.
Episode two — titled 'Here Comes the Type A Bride' — prepares us for fiery women that love to take charge and question the system. We appreciate how they've actively tried to eliminate the usage of the word 'Bridezilla', but there are still times when the brides seem almost unreasonable instead of spirited. Ami & Nitin, as well as Pallavi & Rajat, were childhood sweethearts. Ami, who is detailed driven (almost too naggy at times!), decides on Tijara Fort-Palace as the venue. Saba Sheikh, the wedding designer for the episode, calls Ami her 'dream and nightmare together', and we fully agree with her. And although Pallavi calls out the practice of 'kanyadaan' a regressive one, we're forced to wonder if she recounts her privileges before throwing a pompous bash?
The final chapter of collection one features couples based on inter-caste and inter-sexuality marriages, and it was perhaps the only episode we were eagerly anticipating. The first half highlights Aditya, born and raised in Europe and Gayeti, a journalist raised by a single mother (against the backdrop of her inter-caste marriage). And the second half portrays Daniel, a Goan Indian with Portuguese heritage and Tyrone, who works on a cruise ship as the HR manager in the first-ever Indian-homosexual wedding represented on screen. Despite being the onlepisode that held up our interest in the series, the inclusivity almost seemed to border tokenism; we couldn't help but find it hypocritical in certain areas. Of course, there was a random cameo by Katrina Kaif -- with no possible explanation. But after the things we've seen in this series, this didn't come to us as a surprise.
The Big Day is not for the Indian audience, and it doesn't get any clearer than that. Because let's face it, we don't need a second look at the series to grasp how weddings are a financial burden and an ecological menace to society.
The six-figure galas have gone out of their way to make sure their international audience gawks at the flashy display of wealth. And while we sit glued to our screens for a glimpse of regal, opulent weddings — The Big Day's tastelessness overshadows the underlying message of the series (if at all there is any!). Since hate-watching is now a legit word, there isn't a lot that it takes to describe the concept. Previously, with Indian Matchmaking, audiences found themselves cringing at Sima Taparia's preposterous statements.
The Big Day doesn't add any value to your watching experience. There is a, perhaps, the love for aesthetics that will keep you interested -- but we'd suggest not banking on that. There's no mention about the expense or how these couples are already pretty well-to-do before jumping onto getting hitched. It ends just the way it starts: abruptly and without any justification.
Your wedding is your big day, and by all means, you should celebrate it the way you'd like. But the attempt to show the world how 'crazy rich Asians' celebrate weddings is overplaying the situation a lot more than it should. Despite the red flags, if you do wish to watch it, skip to episode three!
TBC Rating: 1.5/5
Where to watch: Netflix