Meet Cute Anthology Review: Some genuine moments in this otherwise generic collection of scenarios
SonyLIV’s new Telugu anthology sticks to its title, by presenting five stories where strangers indulge in a conversation, but puts a spin by deviating from typical boy-meets-girl scenarios
Sometimes in our lives, the most memorable conversations may happen with the most unexpected people. It could be a harmless conversation with a fellow traveller that leaves a lasting imprint. In this digital age, it could also be two strangers finding common ground to live their happily ever afters.
SonyLIV’s new Telugu anthology Meet Cute strictly sticks to its title, as it presents five stories where strangers indulge in a conversation that leaves them with a sense of nostalgia and recalling. Helmed by debutant Deepthi Ganta, the anthology—presented by her brother and actor Nani—manages to get its small wins by playing around with the people who are indulging in these titular meet-cutes.
Director: Deepthi Ganta
Cast: Varsha Bollamma, Ashwin Kumar, Rohini, Sathyaraj, Sunaina, Adah Sharma and others
Meet the Boy
The anthology begins with the typical Pelli Choopulu scenario, where a frustrated Swati (Varsha Bollamma) is forced to go through the tiresome matrimony process. The frustration is spelled out by having Swati change into 'traditional' wear and tying her hair in the 'conventional' way every single time a guy comes to 'see' her. She goes through ten such proposals before meeting Abhi (Ashwin Kumar) whose contact is saved in her phone as “Dude no 11’. She chooses a nearby restaurant to meet him for the first time because the place is known for its quick service. The segment gets the quirks of arranged marriage right, and Varsha puts up a decent show, but it has little to offer beyond that. While the proverbial spin in the tale feels artificial, throwaway lines like ‘you look pretty when you smile’ and ‘marriage is not transfer of ownership’ are just overdoses of cliche.
Old is Gold
It's in this segment we see Deepthi begin to diverge from the traditional boy-meet-girl trope. Instead, we get a conversation in a consulate between Saroja (Ruhani Sharma) and a retired journalist (Sathyaraj) that appears to be heart-warming only on the surface. Before delving into the psyche of human relationships, Deepthi establishes modern-day journalism's inclination towards opinions rather than facts. But as they begin conversing about their personal equations with their respective partners, the segments somewhere normalises throwing tantrums on the partners when one of them prioritises their aspirations and wishes more than other's in a relationship. For instance, when Saroja wishes to go on a Europe trip with her friends or wants to cut her hair shot, both of which are her personal decisions, her husband is not particularly happy about them and picks fights. A dialogue from the segment goes, “relationships fails when you stop fighting” and does not really do justice. The intention might be genuine, but the placement amid these scenarios, does not justify and can cause only further harm in one-sided relationships. As for the title, not all old practises need to be gold, because all that glitters is not gold.
Coming close on the heels with Old is Gold, is In L(aw)ove which also deviates from the traditional meet cute scenario. Instead, it introduces us to Padma (Rohini Molleti) who happens to see her son along with a girl called Pooja (Akanksha Singh) on his bike. As curiosity piques her, Padma follows them to see Pooja being dropped off at a pet volunteer care centre. This segment follows the prying Padma as she tries to find out more about Pooja, her prospective daughter-in-law. Majorly elevated by the women’s performances, their discussion starts with the man they are connected to. Rohini as an old-school yet doting mother excels. The drama presents us with how men are spoilt for choices, the lazy behaviour at their homes, and how that can even enter their partner’s home. However, this isn’t the major point of highlight in this light-hearted segment. Instead, it makes a strong case on how certain marital stigmas are looked upon by society, and what a woman in a lonely relationship would feel. The segment has a lukewarm take on regressive ideas like divorce, but that is put off when the woman says ‘I’m damaged goods’, and what follows seems to have a gaping loophole in the narrative and an artificial make-up to inject progressive behaviour. L(aw)ove has some genuine thoughts.
This segment features Adah Sharma as an actor, who gets stranded in rain, and gets a lift from pediatric cardiologist Aman (Shiva Kandukuri). Unaware of the limelight she brings to the table, the duo end up in Aman’s house as they share personal conversations, dinner and numerous cheesy moments. The segment posits plenty of opportunities to understand how simplistic and fleeting moments of happiness can make a lot of difference for those who are always under the radar. However, it is let down by the forced and under-par performances of the leads. Not to mention, the production also suffers some continuity errors so much that rain-battered roads are dry and wet, within seconds. The storyline does not evoke any moments where you can root for these characters either. Instead, you get a few dialogues that are predictable, and so are the characteristics of the protagonists and the plot.
What happens when a woman, who is already frustrated with her husband, meets his ex-girlfriend? This is the situation the last segment plays with. With Sunaina as ex-girlfriend Kiran and Sanchitha Poonacha as wife Anjana, these women have a lot to talk about the man they are or once involved with. While we learn the back story of Kiran, who represents the past, the character of Anjana, the face of the present, is barely explored. Anjana also seems to have shallow pointers on why she feels stuck in a marriage, but that quite does not get validated in the wholesomeness of carrying the burden of the past, which the segment tries to discuss. But this segment brushes the very base of any successful relationship, to love somebody for their flaws, or in John Legend’s words to love “all your perfect imperfections”. Deepthi also gives a cinematic twist at the end, that we don’t see coming. The hints are planted early on, but does it really add up to the narrative? That’s debatable.