The film “Arranged Marriage” is not easily categorized into a specific genre of film. It shifts from genre to genre which may leave a viewer initially to say, “What the hell is going on here?” Not in an annoying or frustrating manner because the genre switch is creative and quite frankly at times amusing. But the end result is a very clever both immensely entertaining and thought provoking.
23-year-old Kamali Matthu (Megha Sandhu) is a student living at home with strict Punjabi parents in a California neighbourhood. By strict they believe in arranged marriages as are done back home in India. Kamali wants nothing to do with it but fails to convince the family unit a marriage of the heart should prevail.
Her father (Kavi Raz) is a charming psychopath who beats to death or arranges for the murder of Kamali’s friends and lovers that stand in his way of finalizing an arranged marriage. The family unit and friends are a ruthless killing machine.
The film launches an attack on arranged marriages in Indian culture and the mindset behind proponents of arranged marriages such as the parents knowing better what suits their children than the children themselves. There is a great tragedy in the film and it is honour killing. As much as you might have been chuckling now and then the film’s end is chilling.
The film also probes racism in an uncomfortable way. Initially Kamali’s boyfriend Clive is a paragon of cross-cultural understanding but as the murder toll whirling about Kamali’s friends augments he turns into a raving racist demeaning Kamali. Kamali’s family is no better with their mockery and hatred of American society. A club to them where men and women dance together in skimpy clothes is a whorehouse. How progressive! There is mockery of Caucasian Americans in scene where Kamali’s family attempts to deceive a police officer by dressing in exaggerated American clothing and feeding the policeman macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and carrots.
Then there is the insertion of Bollywood dance numbers totally out of synch with the times they appear. In fact their insertion is so inappropriate they seem comedic. In fact the film can be interpreted as a very dark comedy.
The film has a strong streak of horror embedded in it as the murder count rises and its final intended victim is Kamali. It is a horror of a cultural nature. After the first murder we wonder who is next so we have suspense as well.
As her friends are murdered and defect leaving Kamali alone will she surrender to an arranged marriage? If so at what cost?
A shocking ending delivering a crushing blow not so much to arranged marriages but against a culture that has its sickening flaws that extend beyond arranged marriages. And if you think the ending is totally fictious it is not. And is starts again at the conclusion of the movie. It has happened more than once in Canada! It will take many Kamali’s to end the brutality and stupidity in the arranged marriage culture. Sadly Kamali’s younger sister embraces arranged marriages so it may take generations to squash arranged marriages. Arranged marriages may be harmless if both parties freely consent to it but in Kamali’s case there was coercion and intimidation.
The film is laced with satire throughout and there nothing that can’t be spoofed and silently mocked and that includes the nativity of western liberalism. Love the policeman with a Hitler mustache questioning Kamali.
Hats off to writer and director Anoop Rangi as both writer and director. Perhaps a hackneyed topic but a brilliant approach. Your initial impressions may this is a scattered movie but it melds beautifully. A daring and brilliant approach.
You can see the trailer here https://vimeo.com/695279783
Kavi Raz as Kamali’s father is the ideal psychopath a real Punjabi Ted Bundy. And grandmother (Balinder Johal) is Satan reincarnated.
The film opens in Canadian theatres on August 12th.
RKS Film Rating 94/100.