Thank God It Is Friday and another lot of new releases awaits us. Thankfully the number of releases are in check and so the reviewer in me can utter a sigh of relief. And to kick start the weekend, I finished watching the new Malayalam film Sundari Gardens streaming on SonyLiv. Now it has been a while since I have watched and reviewed a Malayalam film and there will be a bunch of them coming up on Onam(I am assuming). So despite the new Akshay Kumar starrer Cuttputlli, I decided to pick this one as my opening film review for the weekend. With absolutely no idea about what the film had to offer(yes, I skipped its trailer too), I decided to venture into the bling like I always do. So then does Sundari Gardens manages to impress, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Sundari Gardens follows the story of a protagonist who falls in love with her colleague only to find out that he likes someone else. What happens next? The story is a sweet, simple and feel-good kind of a drama which often comes as a breath of fresh air amidst the thrillers and mysteries doing the rounds. The screenplay standing at a shade under two hours guarantees a crisp watch.
The drama from the onset has a positive vibe to it. You are introduced to the protagonist and the people around her in a nice little setup. The unassumingly charming introduction of the protagonist does set off sparks in a subtle manner. The entire world building is believable and rooted to reality, so nothing does feel out of place.
The drama is fairly predictable that does get slightly repetitive in the first hour. A few subplots are decently well penned, however they contribute little to the overall screenplay. The leisurely paced drama is suddenly jolted with the introduction of the conflict which is then followed by a tragedy. I did feel the tragedy could have either had a little buildup or its repercussions could have slightly lasted a little longer. Because this little period did seem a little hurried.
But the second hour truly captures the essence of the drama perfectly. It has a feel good ring to it making it seem like a long and warm embrace. There are moments of magic which really did connect with me in the most soothing manner. There are a few predictable twists and turns which are interesting and engrossing. With just 15 minutes remaining for the film to end, I again thought that the final act would be rushed. But to my surprise, the final act was grounded and simplistic but not hurried in any manner. Overall, a sweet little screenplay which manages to tug the strings of your heart.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are conversational and adequate. The music is beautiful and so soothing that I wanted it to continue playing as I lay on my bed with my eyes closed. The BGM has beautiful symphonies which outline the various moods of the drama perfectly. The cinematography captures some beautiful images in the most breathtaking manner. Director Charlie Davis does a pretty good job in creating an ambience of positivity and within in weaving a feel good tale of love and loss. There are several magical moments to marvel at in the narrative and for that the director needs to be given credit.
The performances are wonderful here. Anagha Maria as Elizabeth and Sruthy Suresh as Alerna have their moments to shine as does Rj VJ Renu. Binu Pappu as Dr. Mahi is endearing. Gawrie Sankarie has a lovely screen presence and she does a good job. Lakshmi Menon as Lekha looks pretty and does a pretty good job. Neeraj Madhav as Victor is quietly charming in what is such an affable performance. In a scene you see him serving wveryone before joining in to eat which did speak volumes about his character. Some of the most heartwarming scenes of his are with the protagonist Aparna Balamurali who as Sundari is excellent in a character that has a tremendous character arc. She is fiery on the exterior yet is soft and longs for love internally. This was a towering act in what was a brilliant performance.
Sundari Gardens is a feel good drama that just felt like a long and warm embrace. Available on SonyLiv.