Netflix’s latest Dharmatic release, Meenakshi Sundareshwar stars Abhimanyu Dassani and Sanya Malhotra in lead roles as a South Indian couple in Madurai. Why? We don’t actually get an answer to that question.
Because while the plot of the film is a newlywed couple’s budding romance in a long-distance relationship, there is absolutely no reason as to why the film is set in Madurai, Tamil Nadu.
Apart from the fact that the couple’s named Meenakshi Sundareshwar, after the famous temple, the story doesn’t justify the city it is set in. It does however, cash in on the ‘South Indian’ aesthetic. Our leading couple meet each other by an accidental arranged marriage mishap and because of their fated names, they are considered a great match. They get married at the Meenakshi Sundareshwar temple in veshtis and Kanjeevaram sarees, in a simple ceremony.
However, the trouble begins when these two can barely get any time alone, and are forced to live apart because our paper-thin personality Sundar gets a job in Bengaluru. In a company that only hires bachelors. So he’s forced to hide his wife, who wants to make a difference with her work but never really does anything apart from eating out and watching movies, in Madurai.
Their long-distance relationship feels like a teenage romance as they try to get ahead of miscommunication and make time for each other. Even Meenakshi’s abrupt arrival in Bengaluru feels half-hearted as she is accompanied by family (who didn’t travel with her? Because they just pop-up and disappear in Bengaluru). Honestly, Little Things did this better and the movie just seems to glide over the mushy parts with an adorable montage song.
Coming back to the ‘Tamil’ aspect of this film, while our problem with the trailer was the Tamil stereotypes like the Rajinikanth obsession and the fact that this entire film is shot in Hindi, the problems that the film gives birth to are different.
The women of the household are always decked in silk sarees and gold, they oil each other’s hair together, and everyone loves bananas. The movie is a visual delight, you get gorgeous shots of the food, the house and the city.
And though someone did do their research while making the film, they failed the execution because of the unconvincing language-barrier and the fact that the accent of the culturally inaccurate actors, often slips. The movie is set in a fairly well-off household, that offers prayers every chance it gets, and that’s about it. Meenakshi Sundareshwar doesn’t try to be anything more than that, basking in its privilege.