South Indians have one word for Meenakshi Sundareshwar: ‘Dei’

From non-Tamil lead actors to inaccurate portrayals and appropriative representation of south Indian culture, Meenakshi Sundareshwar has not impressed Tamil viewers.
Meenakshi Sundareshwar poster
Meenakshi Sundareshwar poster
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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. 

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. 

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. 

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