REVIEW: ‘Meenakshi Sundareshwar’ is Part Brilliant but Part Dull

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Meenakshi Sundareshwa - But Why Tho

Meenakshi Sundareshwar is a Hindi-language Netflix Original rom-com directed by Vivek Soni with writing by Soni and , produced by Dharamatic Productions. Starring Sanya Malhotra as Meenakshi and Abhimanyu Dasani as Sundareshwar, the two newlyweds are quickly forced to live in separate cities as Sundar vies for a job in his field away from the gravity of his family and their saree business. But long-distance relationships are hard, and even harder when you barely know each other, and even harder still when one of the two parties to the relationship is painfully awkward and has zero communication skills.

There is so much to enjoy in Meenakshi SundareshwarI mean, it starts with a gorgeous, colorful, musical wedding. There’s nothing more immediately captivating than that. But usually, the wedding comes at the end of the movie, not the beginning, and this two-and-a-half-hour movie reveals its true nature. The challenges of living apart, especially when Sundar learns he has to pretend he’s a bachelor in order to keep his spot at his new company, are the central plot of the film. It’s a quite original-feeling premise and the need to learn to love each other despite being apart and in secret feels fresh, especially given the enthusiasm with which the couple takes on the tall task. The only problem is that for as great a character as Meenakshi is, Sundar is absolutely emotionless, uninteresting, awkward, and barely even feels worth the turmoil.

Meenakshi is smart, funny, beautiful, and expressive. Sundar is oblivious, dull, mediocre, and honestly pretty annoying. You’re supposed to feel bad for Meenakshi (and Sundar) for being in this crummy situation, but I really just felt bad that this was the man she was feeling bad over. It’s not a commentary on the circumstances of the marriage themselves. Meenakshi even had a say in the arrangement. It’s simply the fact that this was the protagonist that Meenakshi Sundareshwar was trying to make my empathize with and root for. I’d root for Meenakshi any day, but Sundar? He’s entirely forgettable.

If you get past half of the main duo being a disappointment, the plot is still a good one. I was only really invested in Meenakshi’s half of it, but I did totally enjoy ever scene with her.  Malhotra just put so much expression into her face, her voice, and her dancing that even when she was sulking over her lame husband I was ensconced by her scenes. It certainly helped too that many of her scenes were accompanied by some of her many in-laws. They were all hilarious in their own different ways, especially Sundar’s nephew Rasu (Kalp Shah) and Sundar’s father (Purnendu Bhattacharya). Totally different ends of the comedy spectrum, but both great secondary characters who stole their scenes.

The musical numbers by Raj Shekhar and Justing Prabhakaran in Meenakshi Sundareshwar were all great. They were actually the only times throughout the movie that Sundar felt like a likable character, too. Maybe it’s because he didn’t have to speak during those scenes, so he was able to just come off as a nice, albeit goofy guy. The moment the music stopped and he has to start talking again it gets awkward, and not in a charming or endearing way. But until then, each number is a bop, the dancing is great, and there isn’t a single miss in the whole movie.

Meenakshi Sundareshwa has the makings of a great rom-com, with a creative and modern premise and a great 50 percent of its romantic duo. But Sundar is a totally uninteresting, awkward, and almost annoying main character, making half of the movie just so much less enjoyable and seriously reducing my emotional investment in their successful marriage.

Meenakshi Sundareshwa is streaming now on Netflix.


Meenakshi Sundareshwa
  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10
7/10

TL;DR

Meenakshi Sundareshwa has the makings of a great rom-com, with a creative and modern premise and a great 50 percent of its romantic duo. But Sundar is a totally uninteresting, awkward, and almost annoying main character, making half of the movie just so much less enjoyable and seriously reducing my emotional investment in their successful marriage.