Sundari Gardens Malayalam Movie

Feature Film | 2022
Sundari Gardens is a bit too vanilla and derivative to work as a rom-com. It is not a bad film, but it uses tried and tested ideas. The actors make it watchable, though.
Sep 16, 2022 By Sreejith Mullappilly

Where To Watch:
   Sony LIV

Charlie Davis' Sundari Gardens is an easy-on-the-eye romantic comedy. It stars Aparna Balamurali as Sundari Sara Mathews, a librarian at a college and a divorced woman. Sundari seems gentle on the outside, but she has that spark each time she sees Neeraj Madhav's Victor Paul, a new teacher in her college. Sundari loves Victor but finds it difficult to express her feelings for him. So, the movie introduces a new character so that Victor and Sundari can realize what the future holds for them.

The arrival of that character makes us wonder whether Sundari Gardens is going to become a love-triangle story. But the character is treated in such a poor way.

Sundari does something terrible to get her man back. Interestingly, the movie gives the impression that it is OK to do anything for love. Sundari's deeds may not be as cringe-worthy as, say, an Arjun Reddy's, but this does not make those right either.

What's also interesting is that the movie does not make a big deal about Sundari's divorce. When Sundari tells Victor that she is a divorcee, there is a sense of calmness in the whole atmosphere around them. Victor's reaction to Sundari's revelation is quite mature. The movie seems forward-thinking also in how it shows us a female protagonist who drinks with the male lead.

I don't understand why Sundari also needs to be a cancer survivor, though. There is a good stretch at the start of the film showing how feisty Sundari can be sometimes. There is also the passing of a person close to Sundari, helping to explain the same feisty quality in her. So the plot element with cancer is unnecessary.

The movie is uninteresting for a large part because it finds easy resolutions to each conflict it introduces. Sundari's combative brother, played by Sanju Sanichen, asks her for his share of the house at a crucial point in the film. Initially, Sundari seems to resist this idea, but things patch themselves up so soon that we hardly get the time to register the emotions properly.

A lot of things in the film reeks of cliche. For instance, Victor's mother treats Sundari like how most mother-in-laws treat their daughter-in-laws in this kind of a film. Since Ohm Shanthi Oshaana, in a rom-com, it has been the boy's mother who seems to doubt a relationship and the father who embraces it. So, when the movie treats Victor's father in a certain way, it is no longer an original idea.

I fail to understand why a song kept playing recurrently in the background from the beginning to a large part of the film. Unless you lack ideas in terms of writing, you do not need to use a song as a crutch.

Sundari Gardens is an easy watch, though. Aparna Balamurali shows the different shades of Sundari quite well, even though she lacks a perfect character on paper. Neeraj Madhav is also a likable presence and deserves credits for how he underplays certain emotions. The two do not quite make for a great romantic couple, but their presence is one of the few redeeming qualities of the film. Swaroop Philip's camera work means that we get some pleasing visuals to look at, which almost makes up for some deficiencies here.

Sreejith Mullappilly