BOTTOM LINE: Occasionally Eccentric, Largely Entertaining
|Platform: Amazon Prime||Genre: Comedy/Drama|
What Is the Story About?
Even as Pushpavalli Parasuraman is yet to come to terms with her turbulent past with Nikhil, she gets engaged to Vidyuth at the insistence of her mom. Her stay at Vasu’s PG in the city isn’t going as planned though. With great difficulty and braving the initial reluctance of Pankaj, she manages to get back her job as a trainer at the library. While she plans to avenge what Nikhil did to her in the past, she has second thoughts about it while giving the relationship another chance. She isn’t visibly happy with her husband-to-be Vidyuth, despite every effort from him to make her feel comfortable. Where are these relationships headed?
Sumukhi Suresh mirrors the spirit of the well-written character and its feistiness so well and almost gets you to empathise with it despite the apparent flaws. Naveen Richard as Pankaj is extremely efficient in getting the pitch of his eccentric character right, while Manish Anand had a bigger role to play in the first season than this outing. Latha Venkataraman epitomises every traditional Tamil mother who’s protective of her daughter and the actor’s comic timing is one of the series’ major highlights. Ashok Pathak as the tea boy proves why he is a revelation in terms of casting yet again, but the show-stealer of this season is undoubtedly Shraddha as the PG owner Vasu. Giving the series a delicious local touch with her uncanny mix of Kannada and English, the entertainment value her portrayal of the character lends to the show is unmatched.
Pushpavalli is a worthy addition to the Indian digital space because it has given us an immensely original, unapologetic yet flawed female character. There’s no effort from the filmmaker Debbie Rao to sanitise her character at any juncture. When the show revolves around a plus-size woman and her idea of beauty, the writing always runs a risk of body shaming the protagonist and make the humour surrounding her insensitive. However, the characters here satirically celebrate the conventional society-stereotypes and are exaggerated to an extent that you don’t bother about morality much. There’s an inherent streak of madness in most characters, but their characterisation is extremely flavourful and entertaining.
Pankaj as the hot-blooded owner of the library represents every millennial who is perennially angry for no reason. Vidyuth, who shares the same passion for tennis as Pushpavalli, is the typically well-mannered bridegroom-to-be and bats for a woman’s consent. Nikhil switches loyalties easily and commitment doesn’t come easy to him. Vasu is the heightened version of the speculative female PG owner who puts unreasonable restrictions on the women residing in the house. The chaiwaala T-Boi is that friend who procrastinates, interferes with your life beyond necessity but is unquestionably loyal. Pushpavalli’s mother is an extension of a good-willed yet casteist mom in a Brahminical household. The world is full of witty, entertaining characters, though the story for which they come together isn’t always compelling.
The second season registers better with a viewer who has already watched its predecessor, but the first-timer wouldn’t mind it much too, but for the loudness with which it operates. The plot at times takes badass, eccentric turns, yet the consistency in the characters is maintained. Though the story essentially revolves around Pushpavalli, the show only presents her perspective and never resorts to glorifying her. In the process though, it touches upon a gamut of universal aspects that would resonate with many women and the fears, insecurities they experience.
It’s a welcome distraction to watch Pushpavalli. It’s wayward, funny, satirical and badass at the same time and opens the viewers to the abnormalities in our society without being preachy at any point. The writing is original and stays free from most stereotypes associated with the story of a plus-size woman at the forefront.
Music and Other Departments?
Pushpavalli’s soul essentially reflects in its rich, effective background score and Karan Malhotra’s music represents the various moods of the characters with a genuine understanding of their tone. Ankit Mhatre, the cinematography, gives a visual fillip to an extremely watchable series, crisply edited by Vaishak Ravi.
Satirical tone through the series
A few eccentric turns
Did I Enjoy It?
Will You Recommend It?
Review by Srivathsan Nadadhur
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