'Kumari Srimathi' series review: A delightful Nithya Menen in an extraordinary tale
With a thought-provoking and equally chucklesome portrayal of known societal issues, Kumari Srimathi captivates us
A year ago, Nithya Menen appeared as the extroverted, self-confident and extremely entertaining Shobana in Thiruchitrambalam. Fast-forwarding to 2023, Nithya’s Itikelapudi Srimathi from Kumari Srimathi, is not very different, except for one small addition to her personality. In this Gomtesh Upadhye directorial, the lead is also selfish and adamant, unlike the all-giving Shobana.
Srimathi is a 30-year-old from the remote village of Ramarajulanka, who is unmarried, has a dysfunctional family, and an unenviable job. But these things hardly bother her. Her top priority is to win back her ancestral home and for that, she will go to any extent – including opening a bar and restaurant in a hostelry-less village – much to the disapproval and ire of the women of the village.
Every episode of Kumari Srimathi starts with a flashback from Srimathi’s childhood. We see why her ancestral house is so important to her and the scenarios that led her to lose the house. These sequences also introduce new characters, like Thiruveer’s Abhinav in episode 3, or Srinivasa Avasarala in episode 5. These opening sequences are further explored in the respective episodes. Initially, this format seems very interesting and well-organised. But, it eventually settles for mundanity and convenient writing.
Also, some characters are introduced only for the sake of creating problems for Srimathi and have hardly any scope after the resolution of the issue. For instance, in an episode when Srimathi needs money to start the business, the banks don’t budge, but her conflict is resolved in an interesting way. However, when she does not end up getting the license for her bar and restaurant in another episode, the payoff is very opportune and dull.
Kumari Srimathi does not deprive you of surprises altogether, though. In fact, quite a few twists and turns come your way unexpectedly. For example, a very enjoyable cameo comes at the end of episode 6. This cameo took me aback, just like the Bandish Bandits crossover which happened in Sweet Kaaram Coffee (yet another Prime Video series). Such moments of absolute bewilderment elevate this series from being just another family drama.
The biggest plus of the series is its comedy. Be it when Srimathi’s mother Devika (an amazing Gautami) starts hilariously daydreaming about the consequences of Srimathi’s actions, or when the drunkards of Ramarajulanka come together to praise Srimathi, the series manages to take simple sequences and cook delightful humour out of it. There’s also the namesake villain Kesavarao (Prem Sagar) whose caricaturish persona lightens away the gruesomeness from the role. Small quips like his confusion between his twin sons Mani-Phani, and his understanding of the word ‘nincompoop’ are a hoot. Srinivasa Avasarala’s writing ensures that all the initial tropes and setups get satisfying payoffs.
Nithya undoubtedly does the heavy lifting and keeps this ship afloat without hitting the icebergs. Just as she always does, she gets into the skin of the character with ease. She shines as Srimathi who is a determined personality and has a brain full of brilliant ideas. Her love triangle with Thiruveer’s Abhinav and Nirupam’s Sriram is one of the intriguing narratives of the series. Unfortunately, its inconclusiveness makes the entire track quite meaningless.
Kumari Srimathi ends with a double entendre, i.e., two climaxes. While both promise to be compelling segues for a second season, the series feels like it ends on a rather unsatisfying note. Don’t get me wrong. Srimathi ends up opening the bar, and buying the house (you guessed it right). But it is what she does after, and why she does it that we seek for the most. So the present conclusion rather feels incomplete. Maybe a season 2 will have more answers.
As a series that is way more feministic than those which come with the tag, Kumari Srimathi wins the hearts of its viewers. For most of its runtime, we see the life of Srimathi, her mother Devika, her sister Kalyani, and her grandmother Seshamma. Interestingly, they both support each other and call out each other. There are commentaries on the difficulties wives face with drunkards for husbands and the challenges a single woman has to encounter to start a successful business in a small village. With a thought-provoking and equally chucklesome portrayal of known societal issues, Kumari Srimathi captivates us.
In the very first episode, Srimathi gets inspired by Rajinikanth and Abdul Kalam and boldly decides to start her business against all odds. By the end of the series, one can’t help but feel Nithya’s Kumari Itikelapudi Srimathi is an inspiration herself.
Title: Kumari Srimathi
Director: Gomtesh Upadhye
Cast: Nithya Menen, Gauthami, Thiruveer, Talluri Rameshwari, Naresh
Streamer : Prime Video