Released on November 5, “Meenakshi Sundareshwar” is a film co-produced by Karan Johar’s Dharmatic Entertainment and Netflix, the two names that elicit interest amongst the Indian audience. If you wonder whether the two hours and twenty-one minutes of the film are worth your time, you are at the right place!
The trailer of the film illustrates gorgeous South Indian aesthetics with an understated sentiment. This attribute has likely lured several audiences with a subtle promise of novelty and realism. The trick worked well for viewers who have been tired of the age-old, ignorant stereotypes about South Indians in Bollywood. At the same time, understated romances are quite a charm! So how did “Meenakshi Sundareshwar” deliver it? Let’s find out!
The film begins with a grand splurge of the ancient Meenakshi Sundareshwar temple of Madurai, and how its romantic air brings its protagonists- Meenakshi and Sundareshwar together. The girl is an extraverted, passionate, risk-taker and a die-hard Rajnikant fan who gets attracted to the boy who is a shy, timid yet ambitious coding geek who dislikes movies to the extent that they put him to sleep!
Despite having poles apart personalities, Meenakshi and Sundareshwar begin liking each other, establishing an “opposites attract” plot. As things turn out, Sundareshwar’s sudden job offer in Bangalore and his company’s baffling employment policy forces the two to live in a long-distance marriage.
Communication in a Relationship
The rest of the film mainly revolves around how the long-distance couple manages (and later struggles) to stay in touch despite several problems. It comprises a melange of sweet and salty moments between the two main leads. The two are eventually set on a path of solving differences caused by their long-distance relationship. Even so, the plot does not give any insights into the protagonists’ character development or any significant instance that can make the audience connect.
There are several random premises introduced to the plot that may seem absurd and poorly transitioned. In aesthetically stunning and seemingly confident films like Meenakshi Sundareshwar, the audience generally waits patiently till the end for a climax and resolution (so that the film feels satisfactory). However, these random premises in the movie lead the viewers nowhere. If there has been any communication gap, it has been between the makers and the viewers.
Concerning the depiction of life in Southern India, the film’s research is commendable. And the window to their values, culture, and lifestyle has to be the most delightful aspect of the film. The quintessential love for traditionalism, the classic open-roofed courtyards, the men in lungis, and the women draped in gold-toned Kanjeevaram silk are constant in the film. At the same time, the Meenakshi Sundareshwar temple, the fandom of Rajnikant, and delightful jigarthanda are presented as the classic highlights of Madurai.
Cinematography, Direction, and Sound
While the visual attractiveness is on point, the scenes of the film are poorly transitioned. And that is a constant pattern throughout the film. Seeing the execution, it may occur to a viewer that the makers didn’t have a plot in mind at all, just an idea! The ambient sounds of the film were misplaced, unenticing, and even bothersome at places. Fortunately, despite having dialogues that were mostly vanilla, the actors Sanya Malhotra (Meenakshi) and Abhimanyu Dassani (Sundareshwar) did an incredible job to outline their characters.
Final Words: Too Many Cooks!
The main feature that went wrong with the film was that it tried to accommodate too many concepts that clearly did not blend well! Some of these include:
- The reality of Indian educated millennials
- Long-distance marriage
- Professional rat-race
- Mainstream couple exploring “bold” sexual fantasies
- Busting subtle sexism, etc.
It is unsettling how the film tries to depict “realism” but still has an over-dramatic Bollywood ending of a love story. The concept is beautiful and unique, nevertheless, and the film would do a lot better if the execution would match the idea behind it.
Meenakshi Sundareshwar is a 2021 Indian Romantic Comedy film directed by Vivek Soni. It is streaming on Netflix.