Meenakshi Sundareshwar REVIEW: Abhimanyu Dassani and Sanya Malhotra stay committed with their performances throughout
Director: Vivek Soni
Cast: Abhimanyu Dassani and Sanya Malhotra.
Bollywood Bubble rating: 3 stars
A glimpse into what it feels like to be tied in an arranged marriage, Meenakshi Sundareshwar attempts to keep it real but poor writing brings it down single-handedly. Set in Madurai, Meenakshi (a form of the Hindu goddess Parvati) and Sundar (a form of Lord Shiva) come together in an arranged marriage set up, described as a ‘divine intervention’ of sorts at the historic Meenakshi Sundareshwar temple. It is all metaphorical, obviously! At first, the makers set the story in the right way with the focus being on the challenges that comes in an arranged marriage set up, questioning the theory and traditions related to the institution, but soon it loses steam and how!
Sundareshwar and Meenakshi are polar opposite people. While Sundareshwar has studied engineering and is looking for a potential job, Meenakshi is a business administration graduate who wants to work at a small firm to make a difference. While Sundareshwar is not into movies, Meenakshi is a Rajinikanth fan. Both are jobless at the point but that doesn’t stop their families from ensuring the two get married. That is exactly how the story of Meenakshi Sundareshwar begins. The couple kickstart their journey together trying to unravel new chapters of each other at first but soon the long distance plays a spoilt sport between the two. The writer could have explored the lack of communication and the after-effects of it effectively in the plot but it chose to be bound by traditionalism and soon became unconvincingly to say the least.
After enduring the movie for about half time, one expects the conflicts to create some stir in their story, but honestly, it garners no reaction. The characters lack depth and their lack of evolution in the two and twenty one hour long movie is painful. There is absolutely no arc per se and no conclusion to why the two decide to come together knowing there was absolutely no spark left between them. The total submission to tradition or lack of clarity on the part of the writer makes the storyline boring and flat.
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What the makers do get it right is the cultural depiction. The fact that they do not try to stereotype the Tamilian culture and despite the creative liberty, remain committed to getting the culture right is worthy of an applause. The use of soft carnatic music as background music also works in the favour of the film with Abhimanyu and Sanya ensuring the chemistry between the two is not hurried and organic. The two fit into their characters perfectly and do not seem caricatures.
Sanya has proved her versatility with films like Pagglait and Dangal and here as a committed and educated Tamilian girl, she fits the bill perfectly. Abhimanyu too is perfect as Sundareshwar, an innocent and naïve Engineer. The two look good together onscreen but the writing fails to ignite any spark between the two. It is not the actor’s fault. The two remain committed to their respective characters, throughout but the flat tone storyline and lack of any interesting conflict, makes it a dull film. It is difficult to endure it all the more, given its length.
Meenakshi Sundareshwar is streaming on Netflix.