When you finish watching Meenakshi Sundareshwar on Netflix, there will be multiple questions in your head about the way they made it. First of all, why is this movie in Hindi? Dharmatic is Dharma production’s vertical that focuses on content for OTT platforms. So, at a time when regional movies are watched by everyone in the original language, why is this movie being made in Hindi? The second question is why they amplify the same old stereotypes Bollywood had already created about South India and South Indians? The next question will be about what exactly in this film made the people at Dharma feel that it has something unique? Meenakshi Sundareshwar is a sloppy story that doesn’t demand the backdrop of South India. With those ridiculous stereotypes getting repeated on-screen, this one from Vivek Soni is torture for anyone who knows Tamil Nadu and its culture.
Sundareshwar, aka Sundar, is a BTech graduate looking for a job. He is not interested in taking up his father’s saree business. Under pressure from his family, he agrees to an arranged marriage. Thus he meets Meenakshi, and the wedding happens. Post marriage Sundar gets a job in Bangalore, and he leaves for training literally within hours after the marriage. The long-distance relationship between the couple and the problems around that is what we see in Meenakshi Sundareshwar.
What we are seeing here is that Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi kind of template where the couple is getting through a phase of getting to know each other after marriage. But what’s insufferable about this film is the writing. The south Indian backdrop of the movie is perhaps the trick they applied to make it feel like a “different” movie. Scene by scene, Vivek Soni and his co-writer Aarsh Vora show us how ignorant they are about the Tamil culture. Just like Rohit Shetty assumed Rajinikanth reference can make the movie look cool, here we have Meenakshi presented as a diehard fan of Rajinikanth. It is pretty clear that they haven’t really bothered to take the second opinion of a south Indian because Thalaivar is always Thalaiva for them.
Sanya Malhotra plays the role of Meenakshi, who is fun and speaks her mind without much hesitation. The part offers zero challenges to her as an actress other than pronouncing some Tamil words, which even Tamil-speaking people would find difficult to understand. Abhimanyu Dassani, as Sundareshwar, is trying to make his character look lovable. But the writing has already made Sundar a caricature, and you won’t feel a thing for that character. Nothing much is there to talk about the performances of the rest of the cast, who are dressed like some of those characters from South Indian daily soaps.
The long-distance relationship and its complexities are the core of the movie. But to reach there, the movie is taking a hell of a lot of time, and the hurdles they throw at the protagonists feel so silly. In one scene, Sundar is climbing through a pipe with his drunk nephew. There is a “sad” song when Meenakshi is traveling back to Madurai. An app that has no regard for privacy is shown as a great idea. The screenplay is a confused mixture of pointless detours that never helps the movie to go forward. The only thing that felt right and cinematically interesting was the cinematography that largely used static frames. The ignorance is evident even in production design. In a song sequence, when Meenakshi is walking through a vegetable market, you can only see bananas.
As per Wikipedia, the shoot of the movie began in November 2020. It’s shocking that they had the audacity to make a story about Tamil people in Hindi after all those outrages against Lungi dance and the ongoing protest of Tamil people to stop imposing Hindi on them. When you make a movie about people from a particular part of the world, it will be good if you give the script to someone from there. That might help you in realizing that Lungi and Veshti are not the same.
With those ridiculous stereotypes getting repeated on-screen, this one from Vivek Soni is torture for anyone who knows Tamil Nadu and its culture.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended