½ a litre of discarded Robin Sharma draft, 3 teaspoons of Philip Kotler management lectures and a leaf taken from the tradition and orthodoxy textbook – that is the screenplay and dialogue of Miss India. This is then brewed on a painfully low flame of tea vs coffee and then stirred to infuse the “goodness” of India. The resultant serving is insipid, and the natural sweetener (Keerthy Suresh) is not enough to make it palatable.
Keerthy Suresh plays Samyuktha, sorry Manasa Samyuktha , as she keeps correcting everyone around, including her family members. Keerthy, having proved her acting mettle with Mahanati seems to revel in every scene. Sadly, she lacks the support deserves from the dated writing. She gets the character arc of a mass movie protagonist and a powerful performer like her could have done wonders with a good script. The single line order for the film – an entrepreneur’s journey to put Chai in the business world of coffee consuming American- has the promise of a commercial entertainer but a lot is lost in the process of converting it to a full script. If the business rivalry and corporate games were logically carved out and given more screen time, it could have turned out to be this generation’s Annamalai.
The biggest drawback of the movie is its writing. It begins with the lines “Greatness is a quality that, it is neither acquired through one’s recognition nor lost because of being unacknowledged”. Miss India unfortunately is doomed to be lost in the abyss of obscurity. Most of the characters are given lines that are a cross between motivational speeches and dialogues from the Saas-bahu regressive universe. There is a doctor doling out life lessons in good faith instead of prescriptions in bad writing (‘’as the eldest son, you should take the family responsibilities’’). I wonder if his visiting hours are during the Brahmamahurta and he accepts payments in pranams. The brother, mother and just about every Indian supporting character above 18 breaks into archaic lines involving burden of a daughter, respect of word and my house my rules. Jagapathi Babu packs the suit, sunglasses, and evil businessman stereotype from his wardrobe before landing on sets. He is to the Telugu Movie suave tycoon what Iftikhar was to the Hindi movie inspector- recycled on demand.
Miss India also runs the risk of driving business school students to pursue fine arts and budding entrepreneurs to the nearest bar. The explanation of the concept of SWOT analysis (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, Threats) is not dumbed down for general understanding, it is injected with the flab of melodrama to the point of emotional numbing. The key functional areas of sales and marketing are brushed off as cons. Suffice to say that apart from the hopeless ‘tobacco is injurious to health’ disclaimer, the movie should have displayed some useful disclaimers like “the meeting with venture capitalist is performed by professional actors and should not be imitated at workplace” , “high emotions and low data points are harmful to the growth of an entrepreneur” or “leave dialogues in washroom, bring project plan to boardroom”.
In hindsight if an early dialogue makes charity, humanity, and charity rhyme, you know this house of tea is far from sublime. It made a tea addict like me, crave for cappucino in the middle of the night.
Captive of the 24 frames and admirer of the written word. If it is not on the silver screen or on the pages of a paperback, it might as well not exist.