A still from Sasimadhanam
A still from Sasimadhanam

Sasimadhanam Series Review: A middling yet breezy rom-com that sails through its flaws

Director Winod Gali manages to keep things interesting despite dealing with a familiar story, aided by competent performances from Soniya Singh and Ashok Chandra
Sasimadhanam(2.5 / 5)

At a time when there is increasing focus on making concept-driven shows, which vie to stand out while dealing with the audience’s gradually decreasing attention span, we have somehow lost touch with the pleasure of watching a harmless entertainer where the stakes are low. ‘Comfort watch’ is a term we almost exclusively reserve for our favourite sitcoms or older romantic films; contemporary filmmakers and writers are evidently not making enough of these. Sasimadhanam, a frothy comedy-romance about a clandestine relationship between two young people, aims to fill that precise void.

Directed by Winod Gali, the show tells the story of Sasi (Soniya Singh) and Madhan (Pavan Sidhu), who are in a romantic relationship but haven’t told their families about it for fear of disapproval. During one of Madhan’s secret visits, where he plans to stay at Sasi’s house for a week, Sasi’s family returns much sooner than expected, and Madhan has no choice but to go hiding and stay put (also because he is evading a debt collector whom he owes 5 lakhs.) How the young couple tackles the sticky situation without being caught forms the crux of the story. 

Director: Winod Gali

Streamer: ETV Win

Cast: Pavan Sidhu, Soniya Singh, Roopa lakshmi, Pradeep Raparthi, Krithika, Ashok Chandra

Although it’s a 6-part series, Sasimadhanam, at its core and narrative-wise, feels more like a feature film, where the larger conflict remains the same throughout, only branching into smaller and newer troubles for our protagonists with each new episode. It helps that the episodes are short, crispy, and light-footed, but the conflict never becomes too big to evoke tension. Even for a harmless romantic comedy, the protagonists never fall into too deep a pit or come on the verge of cracking under the pressure. 

The script also expects us to ignore some of the logical loopholes here. The young couple, despite discreetly sharing the flat with an entire family that isn’t aware of their romance, roams around quite freely in the vicinity. The writer never makes an attempt to build sequences that play on the confined conditions under which Sasi and Madhan are compelled to exchange sweet nothings.

To its credit, though, Sasimadhanam has a contemporary and rooted vibe. The dialogue rings true and is relatable. However, for all the little progressive touches throughout the series, Sasimadhanam also remains bewilderingly conservative about the sexual dynamic of its lead couple. It’s 2024, and ideally, two consenting adults should find it normal to pursue a romantic relationship that’s also sexual in nature. Instead, what we get is Sasi and Madhanam making too big a deal about it. Even, in the last episode, when the lead couple is caught, they attempt to (and, by extension, the makers) underline the non-sexual nature of their relationship in order to attain a sense of validation from the elders. 

But I would be nitpicking. Sasimadhanam largely succeeds in staying afloat with its breezy vibe, some interesting filmmaking choices, and competent performances from the ensemble cast (particularly Soniya Singh, who plays Sasi). The series has a pleasant level of humour and playfulness to sail through its flaws and rough patches (the background score and cinematography are in great sync with the series' playful tone). The lead couple, too, salvages many moments and sequences in the series with the sheer warmth of their chemistry. 

Sasimadhanam also takes a heartwarming detour into the past of Rama Kotayya, the adorable grandpa figure of the show (played by an equally disarming Ashok Chandra). Even though there are a quirky bunch of characters in the show, Rama Kotayya is the only fleshed out character besides the lead couple. So it makes sense to make us privy to his antics from his younger days and learn what makes him the cool, liberal old man that he is at present. Even when he comes to learn of the secret romance blossoming under his roof, Kotayya remains surprisingly subdued in his reaction.

Yet, the stakes in Sasimadhanam are never too high. Early on in the show, the writers introduce an element of threat in Madhan’s life that can affect his future, but they fail to keep up the tension on this front. Madhan may be deep in debt, but he also has supportive family members who remain empathetic even when they chide him. For a show that’s entirely built on the tension around two lovers being caught and forced to separate, Sasimadhanam has too many likeable characters who we know are not capable of outright evil or insensitivity. They might be indifferent to Sasi’s private life, but they are not bad people. Sasimadhanam is too sweet for a wacky scheme-gone-wrong comedy and not intimate enough for a romance.

But then again, it is the consistent lighthearted energy that works the most in favour of Sasimadhanam. Even when a past lover comes back into one of the protagonist’s lives, the show doesn’t dwell too much on it, and things quickly go back to the cutesy zone. Some things are best dealt with a light hand, and director Winod Gali understands that.

The ending of Sasimadhanam is pleasantly simplistic as well. Sasi and Madhan choose to keep their relationship secret through all their ordeals, possibly also because they overestimate the magnitude of the barriers that face them. At times, we concoct larger problems in our heads about what’s stopping us. But sometimes, as Sai and Madhan learn eventually, all that stands between you and happiness is an e-mail.

Cinema Express