*** This review contains some spoilers ***
Here comes the ride! Despite a twist or turn, everyone knows how romantic comedies end. That’s why it’s important to enjoy the journey.
Netflix’s new rom-com Wedding Season (2022) follows Indian-American Asha (Indian-Australian Pallavi Sharda). She’s a beautiful, intelligent, free-thinking and fun-loving professional who isn’t looking for a husband.
To appease her matchmaking mother (Veena Sood), Asha pretends to be in a relationship with Ravi (Suraj Sharma), a supposed MIT grad who actually DJs on the side and works at a restaurant owned by his parents (Manoj Sood and Sonia Dhillon Tully).
As expected, what begins as a ruse ends in real romance after the faux lovers attend a series of weddings. The reception for Asha’s sister (Arianna Afsar) is particularly joyful since it has the cast dancing along with the end credits.
The ScreenCraft Comedy Competition-placing script by copywriter-turned-screenwriter Shiwani Srivastava offers wit and sincerity, despite a few genre trappings. Although the third act is weighed down with too many confessions and clichéd obstacles, the overall lightness of the writing remains entertaining.
Director Tom Dey could have lessened the Hallmark tone of the movie had he swapped the corny score with something more progressive, especially since the male lead plays a disc jockey. Regardless, Sharma’s performance is key to the film’s charm. The Indian actor, who made his screen debut as the star of Ang Lee’s Life of Pi (2012), proves he has a natural charisma that translates well on camera.
The portrayal by Rizwan Manji as the family patriarch is also endearing. When father and daughter talk about their banking careers, it’s moving to hear how years ago he had to do the work of less intelligent white men who’d claim the credit. Yet when the film repeatedly paints Asha’s white brother-in-law Nick (Sean Kleier) as a fool, it feels equally demeaning in a racially reverse way.
The Last Conception (2020) also includes an Indian-American woman, Chitra (Lovlee Carroll), married to a white man (Josh George) who is very similar to Wedding Season’s Nick. But because she’s as goofy as he is, the jokes don’t come solely at his expense.
In a comical twist, the couple’s daughter (Molly Ava) is considered to be the next Buddha. However this reveal doesn’t happen until the third act. By then, the bulk of the film has primarily been spent on Chitra’s sister Savarna (Nazanin Mandi).
Like Asha in Wedding Season, Savarna is a beautiful, intelligent, free-thinking and fun-loving professional who isn’t looking for a husband. Indeed, she’s a lesbian who proposes to her partner (Callie Schuttera) with the acceptance of her Indian immigrant parents (Marshall Manesh and Veena Bidasha).
Unfortunately, Gabriela Ledesma’s capable direction is hampered by the micro-budget of the production, but the quirky authenticity of the screenplay by Gabriel Constans and likability of the cast (including Matt Richards) shines through.
The Last Conception can be viewed on YouTube.