As a Tamil person who does not speak Hindi, after watching the new Netflix movie Meenakshi Sundareshwar, I felt a complete review could simply consist of ‘Hindi Theriyathu Poda‘ for a headline, followed by a period in the body of the article. I say this because Tamil people are clearly not the target audience for this film set largely in Madurai, where Tamil families speak in Hindi among themselves and to everyone, including potential employers and restaurant annas. At one point, our heroine pours her heart out to a random paatti (grandma) in a train (from Bangalore to Chennai) in Hindi and I really hoped the latter would respond with ‘Hindi Theriyathu Podi‘, but no such luck. The paatti instead complies with her wish for a sad song – in Hindi, of course.
The worst of it is, the film’s story does not require it to be set in Madurai or Tamil Nadu at all. It is a very generic – and very boring – romcom about a long-distance marriage. Girl and boy meet and have an arranged marriage, boy has to leave her behind with his joint family, while he goes to a different city to advance his career and prove himself, cue forced conflicts in the relationship, followed by a rushed resolution and then, of course, happily ever after. This would have worked just as well if it was set in, say, Lucknow. Better even, since all the Hindi would not be so distracting. Or maybe that is the point. To distract from how empty this movie is by giving us something to raise our eyebrows over. To evoke some sort of reaction. Because the leads surely do not with their non-existent chemistry.
Abhimanyu Dassani matches the film to a T in that he too is completely bland and lifeless. His Sundareshwar is one of the least interesting romcom leads I’ve ever seen. I was earnestly hoping his wife would leave him for the much more charming other man (Varun Rao). But again, no such luck.
If Dassani seems to be barely making an effort, Sanya Malhotra as the titular Meenakshi makes up for that by trying only too hard. Her Rajinikanth (sorry, Superstar Rajinikanth, or should I say ‘thalaivaa‘) impressions reminded me of those poor toddlers that parents trot out in front of guests to act out movie scenes. She has clearly practised it a lot but the results are horrifyingly caricaturish. In fairness, I can see Malhotra making a decent romcom lead in a film with some substance. By which, I don’t mean a serious movie, just something with a bit of a soul.
Meenakshi Sundareshwar, however, is not that movie. It is as soulless as they come. It looks beautiful but is vapid. Through most of the movie, I was convinced the director, Vivek Soni, had to be an ad-maker. A lot of the montage shots – and there really are a lot of them – can be cut and used as is in any advert. The shot selections, the way the place is captured, the clothes, the houses, the people – they are all very pretty to look at. But while that may be enough for an advertisement, we do expect a little more from a feature film.
There’s nothing engaging here, nothing to hold a person’s attention for the 140+ minute runtime, that honestly felt twice as long. Around the halfway mark, there’s a scene that could have served as the climax. Sundareshwar’s father realises his son is not the useless fellow he’d pegged him for. The boy has proved himself and the father emotionally acknowledges that. Then, the dad checks out for most of the rest of the film. How I wished I could have too!
This Meenakshi Sundareshwar review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.