Meenakshi Sundareswarar (MS) is based on a very contemporary theme – of a young couple struggling and working hard to make a long distance relationship work somehow. I think in real life, couples are smarter and more practical in these situations and are not so naïve as depicted in the movie. For such a theme in a Hindi film, the film could have been very well set in proper Hindi heartland like many other movies in the past. But the makers decide to set the film in Madurai with Tamils forming the characters. I think it was a deliberate choice to make the film not look like another run of the mill Romcoms and at the same time from commerce point of view, cater to a Hindi+ audience.
Now this is like walking into a lion’s den with your eyes wide open. Therefore, you would expect the makers to have done their homework on the setting they have chosen more meticulously. There is more to Madurai than “Jigarthanda” and “Kari Dosai” and so those references alone don’t count for research on Madurai! Neither does calling Rajinikanth as “Thalaiva” 100 times count for research on Tamil audiences. ! Beyond these there are inaccuracies galore. “Athai” is father’s sister and so the father will not address her as “Anni”! And in IT companies are entry level coding engineers expected to come up with product ideas for Apps??
Now leaving these cultural desecrations aside, how does the movie fare? I would say, just about average. As a Romcom, the film has its moments. But I looked for more of those when the opportunities were plenty. A good writer could have come in handy to fill in. In the 2nd half, the film gets bogged down and at the same time extremely predictable.
Sanya Malhotra as Meenakshi is earnest in her portrayal despite the fact that even for a moment you don’t get the vibe of a South Indian girl! So is Abhimanyu Dassani as the Tamil Sundareswarar! The film is high on production design and values typical of Karan Johar’s productions with designer houses and sets in Madurai.
As a premise, Meenakshi Sundareswarar had a lot of promise. But Director Vivek Soni and his co-writer Aarsh Vora opt for lazy creativity without investing their time and resources much on developing the screen play with diligence. Result you get a film that is just good on the eyes and just tolerable. Just.
Those who are not from Madurai or Tamil Nadu may not feel it so bad and actually may like the film in parts!