'Miss Shetty Mr Polishetty' review: A coming-of-age film disguised as a romantic comedy

A good starting point for understanding this film’s limitations lies in the way our Miss Shetty and Mr Polishetty are written.
A scene from the movie 'Miss Shetty Mr Polishetty'
A scene from the movie 'Miss Shetty Mr Polishetty'

When Anvitha (Anushka Shetty) tells her friend Kavya (Sonia Deepti) of her plans to have a kid, Kavya immediately jumps in and says, “Idhi vishayam kaadhu vishesham” (this is not an incident, it is an event). According to Miss Shetty Mr Polishetty (MSMP), a woman having a kid via artificial insemination is a vishesham. A man pursuing a career in stand-up comedy is a vishesham.

A younger man falling in love with an older woman is a vishesham. These lines, which otherwise make for interesting articles in a newspaper, are the plot points here. Now, is the boy-meets-girl story here a vishayam or a vishesham? In a world where all kinds of love stories have been told, putting a new spin on this is far from easy. But, walking out of the theatre, I am convinced that the love story between Siddu (Naveen Polishetty) and Anvitha should have been the vishesham while the unconventional nature of their meet-cute should have rather been a vishayam.

A good starting point for understanding this film’s limitations lies in the way our Miss Shetty and Mr Polishetty are written. MSMP starts with Anvitha losing her mother. Averse to romantic relationships, Anvita decides to birth a child on her own, in a way to honour her mother’s life and last wish. The sight of grimy men donating their sperm in the hospital convinces her to choose a donor she can personally know and approve. We then see her swiping on apps, and meeting different men in coffee shops, making the whole ordeal of finding a sperm donor about as complicated as finding a husband.

For a film trying so hard to wow you with its linear iterations of “Look how city people behave”, it leaves you with the sobering takeaway that dating or sperm-donor-shopping is about as eugenics-driven as arranged marriage is.

But at the very least, MSMP wants you to know that stand-up comics, in all their “we’re following our passions” newspeak, deserve a shot at being loved and validated, just as much as the software engineers or government officers do. Anvitha seems to be an emphatic believer of this sentiment, which is probably why she keeps meeting Siddu in order to vet him to be her sperm donor, while he falls for her in all his gullibility.

If this is Anvitha, on the other hand, we have Siddu, whose arc is sandpapered with jokes. We are expected to understand who Anvitha is, because that is how she is written, while we are expected to understand who Siddu is because that is how every other man is written. It is not the most original or interesting character, but Naveen plays to the gallery, drawing in laughs effortlessly. For the most part, MSMP is fun, because of his jocular screen presence. This, unfortunately, cannot be said of Anushka. There are a few moments here and there that remind one of the formidable yet adorable presence she is, but for the large part, Anushka’s Ravali feels like a wasted opportunity. 

Despite my set of specific scruples, MSMP is not a bad film. I liked the way Murali Sharma warms up to his son’s new profession, his show of solidarity to his love story. I liked the way Siddu’s friend (Abhinav Gomatam) protects Siddu by not making Anvitha meet him. I loved how Siddu grows up and becomes responsible in the benevolent, respectful shadow of an older woman (Wake Up Siddu?). Radhan’s music is passably charming. And yet, there is so much to be desired. Maybe, a decent yet heartfelt romcom that is light without taking things lightly is harder to find than an ideal baby daddy.

Miss Shetty Mr Polishetty

Cast: Anushka, Naveen Polishetty, Sonia Deepti, Abhinav Gomatam, Murali Sharma
Director: P Mahesh Babu

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