Okay, when I found out that Sumukhi Suresh and Naveen Richards were in a webseries together, I got my popcorn, and I stayed up for two nights to complete both seasons at one stretch. I must admit, it was a bittersweet experience.
Pushpavalli’s strengths are in the freshness of it all; the show is not like any other show—Indian or international—I’ve seen (and I’ve seen quite a bit in my day). The story is incredibly; it’s unique and authentic and shows the millennial reality with honesty. Bangalore isn’t glorified, it’s experienced in the show by taking the audience literally inside different pockets of it—a girls’ PG, a children’s library, a chai stall.
The characters are better written than any other Indian show. Pushpavalli is plus-sized, but that’s not explicitly thrown at the audience at every minute; it’s normalized for once. She’s not your typical girl either—she’s a stalker, and pays for her toxic behavior. Nikhil’s your typical hot guy, but he’s a good friend, too. Pankaj may seem to not have many redeeming qualities for his anger tantrums, but he’s not afraid to be honest about who he is, and actually cares deeply for Puspavalli. Vidyuth is lovable and surprising. Vasu is hilarious and a breath of fresh air, T-Boi is both amusing and creepy at the same time, Amma is super real (she hits close to home), and the hostel girls are the perfect mix of all things female.
Only a couple of things were troublesome.
See, the patterns on screen get repetitive and predictable. I know that there will be this big fight build up to a moment of revelation, where Pushpavalli will either lie her way out of it or the truth comes out in this supremely dramatic, heartbreaking way. The shift from normal conversation to an over-talkative behavior isn’t convincing. This build up isn’t even surprising by Season 2. The same old jokes–Pankaj’s (not-so) suprising sarcasm, Vasu’s snide commentary–seem a bit overdone too, making you wonder why Pushpavalli hasn’t gotten it yet. In fact, it’s expected with the music and dialogue, and (frequent) overacting.
Here’s the thing: Pushpavalli needs a little more time in the oven to be a more rounded character. I get that she is a female character who, finally, doesn’t need to have some sort of tragic backstory to justify being a dick. Or, in this case, is little crazy. They have finally made a realistic female protagonist—unabashed, neither good nor bad and, most importantly, never to be seen as a victim. While you may relate to Pushpavalli, you are also repulsed by her, angered by her, and humoured by her. But you never feel bad for her.
Yet, I have a hard time believing her crazy side. Some things don’t make sense to me, and don’t feel like the writing stays true to who she is. I find it hard to believe that she has such little awareness, that she would plot a disaster like some sort of villain. And why would Nikhil believe everything that she says? Some of the lies feel a little far-fetched, while the rest of the show tries to remain realistic. Quirky, but realistic.
Sumukhi and the writers succeeded in making a fresh, entertaining show. And that’s why they need to do more justice to this character, rather than forcefully push her to doing things—like causing an explosion in Nikhil’s factory—for dramatic effect. But, all in all, I didn’t find myself bored while watching it. And where it wins, really wins, is Sumukhi Suresh’s fantastic acting. She allows all vulnerability to be exposed on screen, internalizes her character’s pain, and acts out her (psychotic) behavior in ways that make you go, “oh yeah, but that’s how Pushpavalli is.” Every time I got mad at Pushpavalli, or scorned at her, I took an extra second to marvel at Sumukhi’s acting. A riveting performance by the lead of any show is all that an audience wants.
And it is indeed what we get.
3/5 from us!
Pushpavalli Season 2 is available on Amazon Prime.
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