“Why should grooms have all the fun?” That’s what Amisha Bhardwaj says when asked about her wedding video, which has gone viral, receiving more than six million views on YouTube.
In the video, Ms Bhardwaj is dancing in shorts and her bridal blouse, perfectly lip syncing to Sia’s popular song “Cheap Thrills”.
“I am still surprised that the video went viral because it simply shows a bride having fun on her wedding day. That’s not unusual,” she says.
But many people have commented about the choice of her clothes, and the song.
“I think my video broke the stereotype of the shy Indian bride, who is not supposed to dance, and definitely not wear the kind of clothes I am wearing in the video,” she says.
“The script for the Indian bride has been the same for ages – she is supposed to be shy, not laugh and smile sporadically, and cry while leaving her parents’ house. But now the modern Indian bride is writing her own script.”
Making wedding videos in India was, until not too long ago, a stodgy and time-consuming process. Videographers mostly shot entire ceremonies.
Now however, catchy videos inspired by Bollywood song and dance are the new trend, and Indian brides are more than willing to play a leading role.
“I didn’t plan the video to be different. But when I look back, I think I had the confidence subconsciously to do whatever I wanted to do,” says Ms Bhardwaj.
“And it comes from who I am – the confident young woman of modern India. I don’t understand why people expect brides to be shy when grooms are allowed to have fun – dance and get drunk. Times are changing, and so are Indian brides, people should live with it.”
People seem to be accepting this change – a majority of comments on her video are positive. But some have accused her of “destroying” Indian culture.
“I didn’t engage with trolls because there were enough people on the internet to defend me,” she says.
Supreet Kaur and Pawan Singh, the filmmakers who made the video, agree that the Indian bride has changed.
“When I started making wedding videos 10 years ago, brides mostly asked to look fairer and slimmer. But now most of them want to be experimental,” Mr Singh says.
Ms Kaur agrees. “Brides realise that the wedding is the most important event of their life, and they want to be their true self,” she says.
Mr Singh says India has changed in the past 10 years, as more and more women join the workforce.
“Young women are today running businesses and offices, so they don’t want to follow stereotypes when it comes to weddings,” he says.
“Amisha is not the only bride who has done things differently. Just search and you will find many such experimental videos.”
One such bride is Ishita Girdhar. She did not cry while leaving her parents’ house after the wedding – a practice synonymous with Indian brides.
“A wedding is a happy occasion, so I chose to dance instead and made everybody dance around me,” she says.
Ms Girdhar says Bollywood films and TV soaps are one of the reasons why people have stereotypes about brides.
“Films always show the bride as shy. So people blindly believe that’s the only way brides should behave,” she says.
Mananmita Kumar also chose to make a dance video with her husband during her wedding.
“It’s simple – if you want to be shy, be shy. But don’t act in a certain way because that’s what the stereotypes demand.”
But not every bride gets a chance to express herself. Ms Kaur says women in smaller towns and sometimes even in cities still do not have a choice.
“I once had a client who refused to work with me because he didn’t trust a woman cameraperson. And on another occasion, a groom cancelled a shoot because he didn’t like the idea of his bride agreeing to do a solo video,” she says.
“Change has come but we are still a long way from a time when every bride is able to be herself on her wedding day,” she says.
Ms Bhardwaj says it’s importance to recognise the support women get from their family.
“I was able to make fun videos because my husband didn’t have an issue – not that I needed his permission but it’s nice to know that your partner is on the same page.”
Her husband, Pranav Verma, says he didn’t even know when she shot the video. “I hope this video will give many people, especially grooms, a reason to believe that we must break the myth of the shy Indian bride.”
Ms Bhardwaj nods in agreement. “We have started breaking these stereotypes – one bride at a time.”