The fake-relationship trope is getting a refresh in Pallavi Sharda and Suraj Sharma’s new Netflix rom-com. Feeling pressured by their parents to find spouses, “Wedding Season” finds Asha (Sharda) and Ravi (Sharma) resorting to a faux romance in order to survive a summer of weddings, which they’ve been forced to attend by their families. But, of course, it doesn’t take long for Asha and Ravi to develop real feelings for each other. Now, they must learn to balance their relationship, respective careers, and parents’ expectations, all while keeping their South Asian culture front of mind.
“This movie is a brilliant film, which happens to encompass a South Asian family story while tracking a very universal theme: love and its triumph over fear,” Sharda tells POPSUGAR. “The great thing is that it’s giving us the opportunity to really witness the specificity of a particular South Asian culture in a way that I don’t think has been shown on American screens in such a mainstream way. And yeah, we get to be a part of not only a great film, but a conversation which goes towards normalizing the subculture of the American archetype, or the Indian archetype, without exoticizing or fetishizing it.”
“When I say be brave, it’s about occupying space and don’t be afraid of that.”
The South Asian representation — in a mainstream Netflix movie — is embedded in everything from the outfits to the soundtrack to the being traditions on the screen. “It means everything. It’s supremely freeing,” Sharma says of starring in the film. “Whenever I’m on set, I’m the only Indian, you know? It’s rough. You feel quite alone in that. But then, you have this film, it’s filled with South Asian talent in front of the screen and behind it . The storytelling is coming from a true perspective, and we’re all in there. We feel this community-driven sense of joy and responsibility. You feel mad free, so it was beautiful.”
Sharda says there “was a lot of solidarity” on set, which is still “so rare” in Hollywood. “We were hyperaware of the potential role of this film, in pushing the needle forward towards bringing cultures and subcultures together. But yet, there was just a sense of camaraderie, which I personally haven’t experienced in something that’s so mainstream and isn’t t considered niche,” she explains. “And I think everyone was given a lot of voice. It’s really great when your lived experience is recognized and when it’s clear that the authenticity only comes about if you allow those voices to collaborate.”
“Wedding Season” premieres on Netflix on Aug. 4. For those navigating a similar situation to Asha and Ravi’s, Sharda and Sharma hope the film inspires viewers to “be brave.” “Courage is something that’s not spoken about a lot, potentially, in many migrant families because that is secondary to good assimilation or behaving and being obedient,” Sharda notes. “When I say be brave, it’s about occupying space and don’t be afraid of that. And that also trickles down in how you operate in your own family and with your peers as well.”
Sharma adds: “The action of [bravery] a lot of times is communication. You talk, whatever the situation is, whether it’s your mom and dad or aunties accosting you about marriage, whether it’s about doing what you want to do and not what everybody tells you should be doing, being true to yourself, which in itself is a brave move. Not many people get to that stage.”