Abhimanyu Dassani reacts to Meenakshi Sundareshwar controversy: 'No one tries to make a film to insult anyone'
Abhimanyu Dassani deconstructs his character from Meenakshi Sundareshwar, reacts to the film's controversy, and discusses upcoming projects.
Dharma Productions, known as the vehicle behind some of the popular romantic comedies of Hindi film industry such as Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, has a new entrant in their records.
Meenakshi Sundareshwar, starring Sanya Malhotra and Abhimanyu Dassani, is a sweet, charming take on modern-day relationships. Two opposites are brought together courtesy an arranged marriage set-up gone wrong.
She worships Rajinikanth and always turns up in the front row to celebrate Thalaiva FDFS. He does not watch movies because they put him to sleep. She loves to read. He has never gone beyond book-cricket. She is chirpy and confident. He is a painfully self-conscious introvert fixated on a career in coding. Both belong to Madurai, the city of the famed Meenakshi Sundareshwar Temple. What's in a name or two? A great deal in this case.
For Dassani, who plays Sundareshwar in the film, this contrasting personality is probably the most affable part of any relationship. "I think it is great when you get along, and if you are on the same page. However, if you don’t, that’s alright as well. There will be a difference of opinion, but it will help you both grow as individuals with different viewpoints. In the first scene of Meenakshi Sundareshwar, when the two meet, they don’t get along but by the end of their meet, they are sitting next to the cactus, talking about it, and sharing similar perspectives on what it takes to have a best relationship, and slowly you can see them getting along," he tells Firstpost.
Sundareshwar is a sweet, aspirational small-town boy. He refuses to tale over his father's sari business because he "wishes to achieve something on his own." Dassani confesses that though he belongs to a completely different milieu as opposed to Sundar, he could relate to the character. "I am not as quiet and reserved as Sundar but there's definitely a shier side to my personality. While filming, I went through all the emotions that my character underwent, and perhaps that is why I could portray him in such a convincing manner," he says.
However, Sundar's introverted side often slips when he daydreams. He turns into a confident bloke, ready to take on life and romance with Meenakshi. Dasani thinks daydreaming was there because often something that we want to do, things that we do not have the courage for, translate into "getting lost in daydreaming," and so happens with Sundar.
"I saw a lot of movies to get the nuances of my role right. I based my character on Amol Palekar sir, and we had a lot of readings with my director Vivek Soni, writer Aarsh Vora, and the editor of our film. The important part was that they were very clear on their pointers, and the vision they wanted. Hence, it was very easy to get into the character once they took over."
Post its release, Meenakshi Sundareshwar offended a section of viewers for their 'stereotypical representation' of the Tamilian community. The film is peppered with references to cotton silks, Suprabhatam, jigarthanda, and Rajinikanth, which many believed harped on many stereotypes for a mainstream film. On being questioned about his reaction to the controversy, Dassani retorts, "We tried our best to stay on the line with all the information, knowledge we received while filming. No one tries to make a film to insult anyone. And no matter you do in life or in this case make movies or art, there will always be a certain section of society who won’t like it. So that’s always gonna be there, but that’s just part and parcel of it."
Dassani, who had an unconventional debut with Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota, has a bunch of films in his pipeline with Nikamma and Aankh Micholi. The actor says while there is no specific criteria on choosing the scripts, he makes sure to challenge himself everyday with the kind of work he does. "If I would like to watch it, then I would want to be a part of it. It is as simple as that. I like to challenge myself with different kinds of roles, and break the boxes that I put myself into with the characters I play. For instance, you can’t imagine Surya from Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota in Meenakshi Sundareshwar, and similarly, you can’t see Sundar as Adi in Nikkama or Rohit from Aankh Micholi. They are totally different people, with different dressing styles, who talk and walk different," he adds.
Meenakshi Sundareshwar is streaming on Netflix India.
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