Directed by: Vishvak Khanderao
Written by: Shruti Ramachandran and Francis Thomas
Cast: Lavanya Tripathi, Abijeet Duddala, Abhignya Vuthaluru, Jhansi and Harsha Vardhan
Streaming on: Disney+ Hotstar
Lies are important for most romcoms, as they render complexity to the genre and create funny situations. How a romcom works then depends heavily on these lies and unsaid truths. Miss Perfect too is also built on a lie. Lavanya (an earnest Lavanya Tripathi), an HR head at a leading company pretends to be a maid and works at her neighbour, Rohit’s (Abijeet Duddala) flat. But why? The series has a ridiculous yet intriguing premise. Lavanya suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and always has the urge to keep everything clean. When she visits Rohit’s flat to inform him that their maid Jyothi (Abhignya Vuthaluru) is on leave, she sees the messy rooms get the urge to clean every nook and corner.
The year is 2020 and all the events are unfolding during the lockdown. The constant need to place a WhatsApp call screen to establish that people are talking through a video call is too dated and distracting. But when you think about it, the lockdown is a perfect template, especially for romcoms and horror films which require the need to get stuck somewhere for the story to move forward. What the eight-episode series achieves is that it makes you buy into Lavanya’s obsessions. Whether it is a psychologist's office or her ex-lover’s engagement invitation, Lavanya wants everything to be perfect. Even when she is spying on her neighbours or when her lover is proposing to her, all that she can notice is a dirty apron or a waste bottle floating on a swimming pool. So when she cleans a random person’s house, you understand why she does that. But when she keeps repeating it, the absurdity begins to irk you. The need to lie and clean his house regularly is quite pointless at least until she starts doing it because she likes Rohit. It feels pointless because Miss Perfect begins to treat its characters in a superficial way even though the focus is on the bond that’s blossoming.
As someone passionate about cooking, Rohit begins to cook food for Lavanya regularly and they spend more time together. Though we eavesdrop very little on their conversations, a few moments they share and Prashanth Vihari’s music that accompanies make their romance pleasant. The jokes land whenever Lavanya messes up her lies like the time she uses a costly phone when at Rohit’s house and tries to make up with more lies. But the plot line is too thin for an eight-episode series and you don’t feel the snowballing effect of the lies. The writers understand that too. So we have a cracker of a character Jyothi, played by an energetic Abhignya Vuthaluru, who works as a maid at both Lavanya and Rohit’s flats. Among the many characters, Jyothi is the one who wears her heart on her sleeves and makes us root for her. She is trying to become a playback singer but it’s been hard proving her talent. As Lavanya becomes close to Rohit, the latter fires Jyothi. Through her rants and struggles, the series reminds us of the several people who have lost their jobs during lockdown. Surprisingly, it is when portraying such serious issues with a bit of humour that the series is most fun. The bond that develops between both Jyothi and Lavanya warms the heart.
When we drift away from the lead pair once again, it is to learn more about Lavanya’s father and how he finds a second chance at love. However, the organic shift we felt earlier while witnessing Jyothi’s life isn’t felt during these sequences. Miss Perfect takes advantage of the episodic format and non-linear storytelling to show us different things at different times but since we don’t travel more with Lavanya’s father right from the start, the sudden choice to tell his love story feels unmotivated.
In a sweet conversation, Rohit tells Lavanya that he doesn’t know how to tell a lot of things that’s why he cooks her favourite dishes; that each dish he cooks is like a love letter. Only if the series, like its protagonist, said more through actions and less through words, the emotional impact would’ve been much better. No matter what goes wrong, the chaotic situations manage to lend comic relief — be it scenes featuring Rohit and Lavanya or when Jyothi teams up with her brother and security guard to figure out why Rohit fired her. Miss Perfect is far from being perfect but while it lasts, it’s fun.