Pick the soul of Saathiya, sprinkle it with the sound of Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein, create a bit of 2 States atmosphere and jazz it all up with an original storyline of long standing relationship – This is what makes Meenakshi Sundareshwar a film which is unique in its concept and beautiful in its treatment. Director Vivek Soni ensures that for his debut directorial outing, he delivers a clean family entertainer (okay, there is a naughty scene in there but nothing offensive) that keeps your attention on for most part of the narrative.
What catches your attention right at the beginning of the film is the whole ambience which is created. It is truly different for a Hindi film, what with the lead protagonists belonging to Madurai. In a regular Hindi film, you would expect a typical background score, sets and lingo that is usually associated with south Indian characters or films set in south India. That doesn’t really turn out to be the case there. Yes, there is a traditional element in there, but that too has a beauty to it which brings on smiles and also lends a heartwarming appeal.
This is what makes you join the journey of Meenakshi [Sanya Malhotra] and Sundareshwar [Abhimanyu] who happen to get hitched in a chance encounter, what with the elders of the house nudging them to go along, more so since there are temples based on their names in the city. The adage of ‘jodiyan toh aasmaan mein banti hai’ pretty much comes true here, though in a very non-Karan Johar style, even though he is the producer of this yet another Netflix film.
Coming back to the family, the boy (who by the way doesn’t look a fresher out of college by any means) has to go to Bangalore for his internship. The software company has a strange policy where internship is provided to only bachelors. Strange, because I have myself been into IT since 2000 and have never ever come across such a policy in any company. Nonetheless, the young bride, who could well have made a choice to still tag along since there are definitely more job opportunities in Bangalore than Madurai, decides to stay back and wait for him.
So far, so good, as there are sweet little moments that are thrown in. That said, you like what’s happening on Sanya’s side more, even as she bonds with her in-laws, especially the young sister-in-law, and also catches up with her college mate who still has a crush on her. On the other hand Abhimanyu’s interactions at office and workplace could have been far more impressive and engaging than they eventually turn out to be, though a comment made by a North East colleague on the stereotyping associated with them, is well intentioned and placed.
The best is reserved around the mid-point of the film when the couple tries to get naughty on a video call. It is hilarious and had the film been made for a theatrical release, it would have got the house on fire. However, not everything that follows from here on is as convincing. There is this whole side track of a young boy who chips in a lot during conversations or is being chased around for tuition purpose. It only adds to the length of the film. Also, there are too many loops thrown in around the family reaching out to the boy in Bangalore which appears repetitive.
Nonetheless, the core of the film stays intact right through, and as a result you do want the couple to eventually be together either ways, be it in Bangalore, Madurai or elsewhere. In fact the songs that are interspersed capture these moments well too with Tittar Bittar’ being the best of the lot along with ‘Mann Kesar Kesar’ and ‘Tu Yahin Hai’. However, what holds the attention most in this Justin Prabhakaran score is ‘Meenakshi Sundareshwar Theme’ which is straight out of Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein theme, and only ends you getting nostalgic.
Nostalgia is what you would feel as an audience too if you have been in a long distance relationship, be it as a married couple or just the one which is in love. In that aspect, while Abhimanyu does well to underplay as an introvert young man who has seen a rather suppressed life and is just trying to break free, Sanya Malhotra is the heart of the film as she shines big time as a spirited soul who is attached to her roots and traditions but is pretty much aware of the world around her, which is far beyond Madurai.
Watch it for some smile-through times.