Mrs Subbalakshmi review: Lakshmi Manchu’s web-series turns a progressive idea into an insipid drama
Mrs Subbalakshmi aspires to have a lighthearted tone and treat the story as a comic caper, but in the process, the series turns its characters and itself into a farce
A day before the official launch of Lakshmi Manchu-starrer Mrs Subbalakshmi, acclaimed writer Balabhadrapatruni Ramani stated that she was impressed with the wide range of roles that the actress had been playing both on and off screen. Considering that Lakshmi Manchu is a TV host, actress, producer among other things, it’s not surprising why Ramani wanted Lakshmi to essay the lead role in her story, Mrs Subbalakshmi. The plot revolves around a housewife, who’s upset that her husband forgot their wedding anniversary and has been neglecting her for a long time. So, she decides to go on a date with herself and asks her family members to not search for her or try to call her.
It’s an impressive idea to begin with and Balabhadrapatruni Ramani raises a lot of pertinent issues. For instance, there’s a scene where Subbalakshmi’s husband, Subramanyam, talks to her in a condescending tone suggesting that she has no wisdom or knowledge about how the world works. Another time, he tells her to keep aside all her hobbies and interests, and just focus on doing household chores and raising their kids. Subbalakshmi herself is a victim of her circumstances and chooses to sacrifice her interests to run the family. And one fine day, when her husband forgets their wedding anniversary date, she decides that she has had enough. The premise holds plenty of promise and you almost believe that it’s going to be an inspiring tale of a woman who’s trying to find herself; however, it takes an entirely different trajectory and ends up being a insipid drama where everyone hams it up. If the idea was to shatter the stereotypes that women can’t do certain things, then the series does achieve its goal; however, the way the series unfolds is so inorganic that except for the beginning and the final scene of the story, everything else feels contrived.
The entire story unfolds in a single day and the series packs in a lot of subplots - Subbalakshmi (Lakshmi Manchu) helps a young couple who have eloped from their house; her path criss-crosses with a smuggler, and families of the young couple. Then, there’s Subramanyam (Srinivas Avasarala) who meets quite a few people while searching for his wife. There are stories and backstories, action sequences, melodrama, and comedy, apart from a clear message about women empowerment. In a way, Mrs Subbalakshmi is turned into a complete package, but at no point does it warrant your attention because the jigsaw puzzle is so lame to begin with. There’s hardly a supporting character who is treated with dignity, except for a couple of Subbalakshmi’s friends. Everyone else becomes a punchline to crack a joke about their weight and colour, about their obsession with social media, about their ideals of courage and vengeance. Sample this: Subramanyam and his friend go to a restaurant for a meal, and when his friend finishes an entire plate of biryani and remarks how tasty it is, he’s told that there’s been some confusion and that he was served the biryani which was meant for the owner’s dog. This is just one of the several instances where poorly conceived scenes are disguised as comedy.
It’s not hard to guess why Lakshmi Manchu would have been so eager to play the lead role, apart from producing the web series. The inherent message of the story needs to be told to a wider audience and the actress herself gets a heroic treatment in several sequences. Yet, it’s never clear if she’s playing herself or if she’s a character in the story. Every time we are told about her backstory, it makes you empathise with her decision to leave her home; however, everything that unfolds in real time falls short of the desired effect. Mahesh Vitta, Adhurs Raghu, Chitram Seenu, Vishnu Priya find themselves in badly etched characters where even their most serious segments are treated as comedy. On the other hand, Srinivas Avasarala is well-cast as Subramanyam and he does well in his role of a husband who comes to terms with his own fallacies.
Vammsi Kreshna, who had previously directed films like Dongata and Kittu Unnadu Jagratha, brings his filmmaking experience and it’s evident in the way the scenes are staged. Mrs Subbalaksmi is easily the best web series, in terms of its cinematography and production design, in Telugu in recent times, and full credit to Vammsi, cinematographer Samala Bhasker and producer Lakshmi Manchu for making it look visually pleasing. If only so much attention to detail had gone into treating the story and characters with respect, Mrs Subbalakshmi would have been a series that’s as good as the idea it wants to drive home. It aspires to have a lighthearted tone and treat the story as a comic caper, but in the process, the series turns its characters and itself into a farce.
Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai movie review: Manoj Bajpayee shines in a gripping courtroom drama
Manoj Bajpayee’s Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai is a biopic on a humble lawyer from Rajasthan, Advocate PC Solanki who brought justice to a minor girl who was sexually assaulted by a self-styled godman. under the POCSO Act
What is POCSO Act shown in Manoj Bajpayee's courtroom drama Bandaa?
The Protection Of Children From Sexual Offenses Act, 2012 has not been shown in many Hindi films and Bajpayee's Bandaa sheds some important light on it
EXCLUSIVE | Manoj Bajpayee: 'Raajneeti has resurrected my career, was down and out and suddenly I got this film'
In an exclusive interview with Firstpost, Manoj Bajpayee and the director of his new film Bandaa Apoorv Singh Karki speak about their maiden collaboration, and Bajpayee dissects some of his most accomplished works as an actor yet- Satya, Kaun, Aks, and Raajneeti.