Review: Sundari

‘Sundari’ is out in the theatres this Friday (August 13). In this section, we are going to tell you whether the film works. 

Story:

Sundari (Poorna aka Shamna Kasim) marries Prabhu (Arjun Ambati), an orphan, after a brief unwelcome romance. Once she moves to Hyderabad, Sundari finds it hard to get along with Prabhu. Just as she starts easing herself into the relationship, she faces a challenge in life and it has something to do with her horoscope. Prabhu is fired from his job. Ritesh (Rakendu Mouli as Prabhu’s friend) tries to cozy up to Sundari. Will this lead to an extra-marital affair? How does the marriage implode? What of Sundari’s fate? Can she ever live happily? Answers to these questions are found as the story progresses.

Performances:
‘Power Play’, which hit the cinemas earlier this year, suggested that Poorna had started to make the occasional interesting choice. But ‘Sundari’ falls flat and her attempt to make it big with a female-centric movie fails spectacularly. Arjun Ambati, a TV serial actor, is forgettable. 

Rakendu Mouli should cut down on his over-the-top acting chops urgently. He utters the line ‘Lock chesi walk cheddam’ as if he is trying to be a hip college-going youngster like Pawan Kalyan’s Siddhu Siddharth Roy. Chartapathi Sekhar, Sri Sudha, Appaji and others are unwatchable. 

Technical Departments:

Suresh Bobbili’s background music revels in the problematic nature of the story-telling. It is either run-of-the-mill or actively advertises the film’s wrongful point of view. For one, it indulges in the superficiality of the scenes. For another, it goes to the extent of normalizing the regressive treatment. 

The cinematography is at best adequate. The low-budget fare doesn’t give the cinematographer even an iota of scope to experiment.

Analysis:
When the teaser of ‘Sundari’ came out and it announced that the titular character takes an improbable decision (read the caption again: ‘The ultimate decision of an innocent lady’), much was expected from the movie. In retrospect, the tagline itself is quite inappropriate. It should have read, ‘The moral choice of a non-violent lady’. For there really is nothing “ultimate” about what Sundari does. It’s a moral choice that she makes.

After Sundari gets married to Prabhu, she moves to Hyderabad. As she walks into his house, we see darkness all around. Director Kalyanji Gogana might want to claim that it’s symbolic of Sundari’s impending fate. But, in the film, it appears as though an unnecessary stretch was not purged out at the edit table. When Sundari, who seems to be petrified of making out with her hubby, attempts to go back to her village, Prabhu tells her that such a choice by the women would have de-populated India long ago! Wonder who finds such lines funny, much less creative, these days.

In a film that is about the sacredness of marriage going haywire, the focus is more on objectifying Sundari. Rakendu Mouli’s character says that we are living in a world where 20-year-old women are in sexual relationships with men who are in their 40s. If you think of it, there was no need for such lines unless the attempt was to titillate the audience. 

The Sundari-Prabhu duo shares zero chemistry. When the husband says that he is getting suicidal thoughts often, Sundari appears frightened but not concerned. She says nothing to soothe her husband. For that matter, she hardly has any dialogues beyond the token ones. 

Sundari is shown to be doing her chores. She is not given a personality at all until the climax. How were they trying to tell a female-centric story with such horrible gaffes?

Bottomline:
‘Sundari’ takes forever to come to the point. Barring the climax, the rest of the film struggles to tell a story. 

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