“Ante Sundaraniki” is a masterclass in how to elevate a seemingly simple concept into what is probably the best love story of the year. We cannot believe that a movie like this did not work in the theaters. But luckily, it is getting its due on the OTT platforms. This is the story of Sundar and Leela, who are in love with each other and want to get married. But their families are against it, due to their different religious backgrounds. How they convince their parents for their relationship is the crux of the story. Sounds like something you may have seen before? Trust us when we say that is far from the truth. Because despite the masterful execution of their characters by the cast, especially Nani, the real hero is not even the story, but the screenplay and the editing. Let us see how this gem of a story unravels, giving us a cinematic experience to aspire to.
The Beginning Of Sundar And Leela’s Love Story
“Ante Sundaraniki” starts with Sundar and Leela taking part in a school play that is quite successful with the audience. He is then approached by a man claiming to be an assistant film director, who promises him a role as a child artist in Chiranjeevi’s next film, set in America. Sundar’s father is a traditional man, and he claims that the sacred texts state that one must not cross the ocean. But Sunder’s mother comes up with a loophole: if you burn a blade of grass on your tongue, you can go abroad. His family reluctantly agrees to let him go for the movie, but just in time, it is revealed that the AD was a fraudster who approached children under the pretense of casting them in films and sold them into child trafficking. Following this revelation, his father becomes extremely paranoid about Sundar and raises him in a very restrictive and orthodox way to protect him from any sort of harm. Probably the only person who understood him growing up was his friend Leela.
Leela comes from a Christian family, and while her father encourages her to achieve all her dreams in life, he forbids her from mingling with anyone outside their religion, as much as possible. But Sundar and Leela remain friends, with the former harboring feelings for her throughout his life. As they grow up, one day, he decides to confess to her, only to find that she already has a boyfriend. He decides to distance himself, and they slowly lose touch with each other. But a few months down the line, Leela has broken up with her boyfriend, and she and Sundar reconnect at a work event. As they renew their friendship, they start looking at each other with a fresh perspective. Love blossoms and Leela takes the initiative to ask him to marry her. Sundar is on top of the world—he manifested a relationship with his crush into reality, something only God’s favorite people are capable of doing. Now comes their next challenge—convincing their parents.
‘Ante Sundaraniki’ Ending Explained: Do Sundar And Leela’s Parents Accept Their Relationship?
To convince their families, they come up with a scheme where Sundar would lie to his parents that he cannot have children, and Leela has agreed to marry him out of pity. Leela, on the other hand, would tell her parents that she is pregnant out of wedlock and, therefore, must marry Sundar. They go ahead with their lies and face many unexpected hurdles while doing so. But ultimately, both the families, while still under their respective misunderstandings and through a comedy of errors, agree to let them marry. However, as their web of lies becomes more and more complicated, Leela’s mother takes her for a pregnancy test. In a surprising twist of events, it is revealed that Leela is actually pregnant. This throws the couple into a lot of confusion as they haven’t slept with each other. At the same time, Sundar’s father comes to know that his son lied to him, though he still thinks Leela is pregnant. It eventually comes to light that Leela’s diagnosis was due to the presence of a rare tumor in her ovaries. But the couple has had enough, and Sundar tells her parents the entire truth.
Back at home, his father wants to call off the marriage, but Sundar’s mother shows him the hypocrisy of his ways. On Leela’s side, her parents see how much Sundar loves and respects her and slowly accepts the relationship. Both sets of parents give the kids the green signal to go ahead with their marriage. The couple hold their ceremony in Amelia Island, America, the place where Leela had always wanted to get married as it holds a special significance to their relationship, giving us one of the best endings to a love story.
Final Thoughts: What Makes ‘Ante Sundaraniki’ Work So Well?
It was how such a simple narrative was presented in such a non-linear format. For example, when Leela decides to go to America, we think it’s because she is buying time so that her ex-boyfriend can get settled and she can marry him. But it is later in the story, through a series of flashbacks, that we come to know that she is actually going there with Sundar. It was exactly this style of presentation that had us hooked. “Ante Sundaraniki” didn’t just justify, but earned its 3-hour run-time. We can’t think of a single other piece of content in recent times that managed to do that with such finesse. And it is not just the editing, but the tiny details and the due importance given to each character. For example, Sundar’s boss owned every scene he was in, with his sarcasm and dislike for his employee. Anupama Parameshwaram, as Soumya, brought a sensitive understanding to Sundar’s circumstances. We laughed at the theatrics of Sundar’s father and his relationship dynamic with his son. Probably one of the more intelligent scenes was when he makes Sundar swear on him and later says that he knows Sundar might not care if he dies, so he makes him swear on his mother. It was just hilarious.
“Ante Sundaraniki” deserved so much more credit and hype. Its failure at the box-office baffles us, and we are genuinely disappointed at the cinema-going audience’s lack of appreciation for such a fine movie. While it is now getting its due appreciation, we hope people can put their money where their mouth is and encourage more such content, so that movies like this are not just a once-in-a-blue-moon occurrence.
“Ante Sundaraniki” is a 2022 Drama Romance film written and directed by Vivek Athreya.