On Facebook, the publishers of The Wedding Photographer are predicting it to be the delicious summer read bound to inspire a Karan Johar film. In reality, the book seems like it’s been copied from one of Johar’s overly frothy family dramas in which the happy Hindu family is unabashedly celebrated. There is an inebriated nani, a handsome, brooding tycoon and (groan), a good looking journalist who’s begun to moonlight as a wedding photographer to supplement her meagre income.
Just like Indian filmmakers of yesteryears preferred to portray young love which was naïvely disconnected from complications, Puri has concentrated on a well-treaded surface of superficial emotion. The Indian wedding industry, pegged at a staggering Rs 50,000 crore has been explored at length in Hindi movies but strangely little of what really goes on has surfaced in Indian fiction. Guests at a wedding in Calcutta last year were entertained by the Cirque du Soleil and blonde Russian hostesses handing out menu cards (sometimes, in cat costumes) have become de riguer in Delhi. The great Indian wedding is positively overflowing with fascinating anecdotes and photographers at weddings are uniquely positioned to have a bird’s eye view of things as they really are, minus the fluff. They are outsiders with access to the inner circle. Puri’s book is misleading from the start. The Wedding Photographer leads us to believe that we’d gain a little insight into this surreal world of temporary make-belief. What we get instead, is a gushy and banal account of an earnest young girl trying to find Mr Right (barf).
Twenty-something Delhi-based Risha Kohli manages an upgrade on a long flight and finds herself seated next to Arjun Khanna, he of piercing black eyes and a Rolex-adorned wrist. His smouldering good looks and fine manners bewitch her immediately. By a very lucky coincidence, Kohli happens to be the photographer at Khanna’s sister’s wedding. Sparks fly, inevitably, as we know they should. Every cliched idea of romance that has found it’s way into the Bollywood of old, leaps off the pages here. There are a few snide attempts at humour, some nicely highlighting the penchant of south Delhi ladies’ for gurujis. Hinglish, colloquialisms and current news references let us know that the writer is not entirely lacking in quick witticisms. It’s just that romantic comedy as a genre has been flogged tirelessly on screen for so long, that you simply can’t take exactly the same thing in print if you’ve been around long enough.
Book name – The Wedding Photographer
Author -Sakshama Puri Dhariwal
Publisher – Penguin
Pages – 256
Price – ` 209