To get a gist of Vivek Soni’s Meenakshi Sundareshwar, pay attention to Rasu (Kalp Shah), who has the habit of predicting what someone is about to say in the next few seconds. After he utters, “Kal ke exam ka pura preparation ho gaya Rasu ka?” his mother enters the frame to repeat the same line. Similarly, his other words like, “Rasu ko bed ke neeche sone ki aadat hai,” and “Mani, pichle 50 saalon mein Maha Deepam ke liye mai aaj takk late nahi hui” is reiterated by the intended characters. On the opposite side of the screen, the audience inhabits the role of Rasu. What we predict would happen in the movie happens, if not instantly, then eventually.
Take the fact that Sundareshwar (Abhimanyu Dassani) is unemployed and looking for a job in a company. In this current situation, when he gets married to Meenakshi (Sanya Malhotra), we sense that the film would derive marital trouble from Sundareshwar getting a job or something. The speculation turns true when he receives an e-mail for the interview on his wedding night. The notification rings just when he is about to kiss his wife, which means that this profession would keep them apart physically. The duo is intimately involved in imagination (they dance, rest on the bed, and listen to songs on a train together in their romantic ruminations). When Meenakshi supports Sundareshwar by telling him to focus on what is important to him, he turns towards his book to prepare for the assessment. This informs you that by the end of the movie, the husband would realise what’s truly important to him (his wife, duh!).
If you are wondering whether the job notification on wedding night sounds weird, prepare yourself for more awkward setups. The company, where Sundareshwar joins, accepts only bachelors. During the orientation, he makes an enemy out of one of the coworkers. You can be sure that this coworker will use Sundareshwar’s marriage to his own advantage in the future. Until then, this villain is pushed in the background and merely populates this world. The same is valid for all the side characters. The family members, the roommates, the employees all are but a crowd of people who simply exist in a world that is solely interested in and focused on Meenakshi and Sundareshwar.
That is why the movie gives weight to the issues related to the couple. When Meenakshi finds her husband partying with the office members, she gets annoyed as he had lied to her about being alone in the corporate circle. While this conflict occupies the center, others are casually brushed aside. Take the argument between Meenakshi and an elderly woman. It brings up the generational values regarding respect for adults, but we don’t follow this thread to its conclusion. Meenakshi bumps into an old friend named Ananthan (Varun Rao). Together, they look slightly more compatible. Does Meenakshi regret not marrying Ananthan? Or, during her irritation with Sundareshwar, does she think of getting a divorce and living with Ananthan? These questions don’t surface to the ground because the movie does not want to deal with complications. All we receive is a brief shot of Ananthan leaning forward to kiss Meenakshi. What does she think at that particular moment? We never know. The characters perform the duties of the plot. And the plot is not interested in their psychologies, reducing them to puppets who chug along a predetermined path. Sundareshwar’s daddy issues are also blithely resolved. It may be nice that the movie passes heavy drama without thunder and lightning and does not ask you to weep bucketful of tears. However, in the process, the drama becomes so light that it floats away in the air.
Since there is nothing great to grab on to in Meenakshi Sundareshwar, I noted some diverting observations. Meenakshi asks Sundareshwar to refer to Rajnikanth as Superstar Rajnikanth. Later, an old woman mentions Meenakshi as a Superstar. When Meenakshi and Sundareshwar first talk to one another, she slips into the role of an interviewer, and he becomes the interviewee. In that exchange, she informs how she wants to work at a small firm to make a big difference rather than work at a big firm to make no difference. This line is quoted again during her actual interview process. When Sundareshwar gets the e-mail on the wedding night, he has five hours to prepare. When he has to move to Bangalore, he begins packing five hours early. It creates an opportunity for a dialogue where Sundareshwar tries to break his time by utilizing 2 hours for preparing/packing and 3 hours for Meenakshi or vice versa.
If we scrutinise the ending, it raises certain doubts. Sundareshwar leaves his job to live with Meenakshi, but what will he do now? I mean, she liked how he wanted to do something based on his own talents. To be with her means he has sacrificed not only his job but also the one thing he was admired for. Will Meenakshi or Sundareshwar stay happy after this musing? Will the latter finally start working in the family business? Wouldn’t he get fed up after a few years, thinking if only he had accepted a full-time position in the software company? Perhaps, he will keep searching for opportunities in other places. I ask these questions because the film, after dragging for 2 hours and 21 minutes, does not properly or satisfyingly reach the finish line. Meenakshi Sundareshwar tries to cover up its flaws by showboating technically. The camera tracks the occupants of Sundareshwar’s house while they ready themselves to meet the bride in to and fro fashion, and it places a character alone in the center while she argues with the elders because of a saree.
Ultimately, we take away that having a name similar to a religious place does not guarantee a life without complications. Furthermore, showing off technically does not distract from the staleness of the story.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.