Netflix India’s latest movie Meenakshi Sundareshwar released on the streaming platform on November 5, and attempts to capture the story of two newly-weds based in Madurai faced with the challenges of a long-distance marriage. But not only has social media found it an utter snooze fest, the movie is also being panned for inaccurate and appropriative representation of south Indian culture.
Directed by debutant Vivek Soni, Meenakshi Sundareshwar stars Sanya Malhotra and Abhimanyu Dassani as the leads. They play a newly-wed couple adjusting to the challenges of a long-distance relationship owing to Sudareshwar’s (played by Abhimanyu) professional commitments. The film is getting heat on social media not only because it has a majority non-south Indian cast, but also due to reductive and inauthentic showcasing of Tamil culture, with just a few token and often mispronounced Tamil dialogues thrown into the script.
Many also took to social media to criticise the inaccurate portrayals and ‘Bollywood-ification’ of Tamilians and their culture. So much so, that the film is now being ‘hate-watched’ by some.
#MeenakshiSundareshwar Horrible Experience. I am from Madurai and this movie doesn't even show 1% of my city. Its really pathetic to hear Hindi in madurai which is unknown to 99% of people and looks unrealistic. This movie neither showcase our Tamil culture nor Madurai tradition pic.twitter.com/ivlWqxfwPb— Siva | சிவா❤️ (@rationalistsiva) November 5, 2021
Several of the film’s viewers, especially from Madurai, were also disappointed about the city’s portrayal, adding that the movie doesn’t accurately portray the city or its culture. Stereotypes were also called out, which assumes that most people wear a veshti or a Kancheepuram saree most of the time.
In the film, Sanya’s character, Meenakshi, is a Rajinikanth fan, which is written as one of her major character traits. Many people were irked by this choice when the film’s trailer was released, as south Indian cinema and superstardom is often stereotyped in Hindi films. Viewers mocked the fact that Meenakshi is seen cheering in the theatre while watching the 2020 film Darbar, a major flop considered a disappointing film even by Rajinikanth fans.
That excitement on Sanya Malhotra's face is because she is watching Rajini's 'Darbar'.— Rajesh Rajamani (@rajamanirajesh) November 7, 2021
Adei, @NetflixIndia fellows! Even the film's director Muragadoss won't buy that anyone was this excited to watch that snooze fest of a film. You & your attempts to tell namma south stories pic.twitter.com/Aoi116VyVY
In addition, viewers also called out the film’s casting and questioned why the film had been set in Madurai and Bengaluru. The lead actors improperly pronouncing phrases and words in Tamil also did not go down well with audiences.
The producers of #MeenakshiSundareshwar to the actors: Ok it's in Hindi. You don't need to know anything about tamil culture or language, just say these 5 tamil phrases repeated throughout the movie so it feels authentic. Oh, you can't pronounce them? Who cares, you got the job!— Ammai (@SKVaranasi) November 5, 2021