Film Notes: When Hari Got Married

By • Mar 16th, 2013
Category: Books, Movies, Music, Televison, Film, India, People, YouTube Videos

Filmmakers Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam’s When Hari Got Married is a delightful documentary film. Hari is a chatty and friendly cab driver, who lives in the Himalayan town of Dharmsala, home of  the Dalai Lama. And right from the opening shot and the opening dialog Hari draws you into his world, and provides a running commentary about love, life, modernization and Indian political in a mixture of Hindi and English. You’ll notice an air of excitement about Hari. He and his family are in the middle of his wedding preparation and we get to see the entire process that culminates in a grand wedding ceremony. By the end of the film, we get to meet Hari’s bride, who was an unseen and central element in this  narrative.

Listen to the opening dialog.

“Anu? Good Morning.I love you.”Hari coos  sweet nothings into his mobile phone to his bride-to-be as he drives his van through the streets of Dharmsala ferrying his passengers.” And get this. He has met her precisely for 2 seconds. They have  been engaged for nearly 2 years. Through some shrewd detective work on his part he gets his fiance’s mobile number and thus begins his mobile courtship. Their long distance relationship starts tentatively and after a few months it gets to a comfortable point where he banters with her and keeps repeating “I love you,” and gently and happily badgers her to respond. This is an arranged marriage with a modern twist  made possible by that ubiquitous mobile phone, which is a must-have device for most young Indians.

Since Dharmsala draws a  lot of international visitors, Hari gets to meet people from all over the world. All foreign nuns go in his cab as he puts it. All this international exposure one suspects molds his thinking to some extent.  What is different about Hari is his weltershaung, which is refreshingly modern and practical. For example, the reason he is getting married is to make his father happy. He is very clear that he will not take any dowry from her.

When Hari Got Married is an interesting film that captures a changing India, and the changing role, behavior and attitude of young Indians who don’t live in large metropolitan areas. “This age is rat race for money,” as Hari puts it . The film also underscores the central and transformational role that  mobile phones play in people’s life in India. Consider this. If Hari had lived in the 1990s he would not have had a mobile phone and nor could he have courted his fiance. “Love in the time of the mobile phone,” is an apt tagline that the filmmakers picked for their film.

You can catch When Harried Got Married at San Francisco’s CAAM Festival  at New People, 16th March and 24th March.


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