Just five minutes into the film and my mind was already bubbling with dozens of questions and judgement for whoever gave a go-ahead to the silly AF script for “Meenakshi Sundareshwar”. Vivek Soni has directed this 2021 Bollywood film and has co-written the script with Arsh Vora. It’s another one of those Netflix offerings, that looks great in every way, has fun beats in the background, but the story is just random incidents stringed together to piss off viewers who expect something intelligent.
The film starts with a young man Sundareshwar (Abhimanyu Dassani) getting ready to see a potential bride for himself in Madurai, and his entire joint-family accompanies him. While they are on their way, his strict father coaches him on what he’s supposed to say if the girl’s side query him about his employment status. So here’s the biggest red flag, apparently, Mr Sundareshwar finished his engineering degree a year ago and is still unemployed because he hasn’t found a ‘suitable job’ yet. Sorry Mr Soni, but no respectable south-Indian father who is extremely disappointed with his son for not getting an IIT seat, would bother getting the jobless 20-something ‘fool’ married. And no ambitious 23-year-boy in his right mind would want to wed so soon, unless he is cripplingly desperate to get laid. This is me complaining about the first five minutes.
‘Meenakshi Sundareshwar’ is basically a dumb Punjabi love-story masquerading as a south-Indian tale of arranged-marriage and long-distance relationships. The cinematography is great, you have all the women draped in beautiful silk sarees, the homes are done artfully, both the traditional and modern ones that appear through the runtime. I loved some of the background music and tracks, they are upbeat/happy, and might lull some viewers into falsely believing the story is fun too. Basically, all the surface elements are done to perfection, but there is no coherent plot. Cosmetic conflicts are foisted on the protagonists to make it appear like they do have a story worth telling.
Sanya Malhotra is adorable as Meenaskhi, but that’s because she has that kind of cute personality in real life. It has nothing to do with her onscreen character. Abhimanyu Dassani reminded me a lot of Madhavan, he is quite charming as the socially awkward Sundareshwar, but together the two actors have very little chemistry. So why are we supposed to root for two youngsters who have very generic personalities and are eager to get married without considering the consequences? The only striking personality trait about Meenakshi is that she is a huge Rajinikanth fan. Just a little cliche they had to add because she is Tamilian. And don’t even get me started on the toxic job Sundareshwar lands eventually, which is meant to provide comic-relief, but is far from funny.
Why did they even make this film? What was the point? I was left wondering at the end of it all, after fast-forwarding a lot of bits towards the second-half. It’s a 4.5/10 from me.
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Listen to episode 32 on Norwegian Wood (It finds mention in ‘Meenakshi Sundareshwar’)