There is no such thing as a ‘happily ever after’ love story without a little fuss in the beginning. When two people of different religious beliefs fall in love with each other, obstacles somehow come in their way. In Vivek Athreya’s recent movie, “Ante Sundaraniki,” we see such a fussy love story. This is the story of a young couple who cannot get married because of the religious inequality between their families. But the movie is all about how they bring their families together in wedlock despite having all the ritualistic nuances and telling a large number of lies.
The most extraordinary part of “Ante Sundaraniki” is its playful storytelling. The non-linear narrative style makes this movie more interesting to watch. And the power portion of this movie is Nani and Nazriya Nazim and their crackling chemistry. Both of them beautifully brought out the character flaws and the cute innocence of their characters at the same time. “Ante Sundaraniki” is very visually pleasing with its rich color palette. Also, the romantic background songs worked very well with the tone of the movie.
But what makes this love story so unique? And the answer is the purpose. The story doesn’t only talk about inter-religion marriage, but it is quite commendable how this movie spontaneously supports freedom of choice and breaks gender norms. The movie shows the flaws of a person and instantly teaches him a lesson through a shocking revelation at the end.
How Did Sundar And Leela Find Their Way To Each Other?
The story starts with Sundar, the male protagonist, practicing some rituals before leaving for the airport. He belongs to a very conservative Brahmin family. Throughout the movie, we see Sundar telling stories either to his colleagues or to his boss, asking for their favors. This time, Sundar is narrating a story to his colleague Soumya about his childhood dream of going to America. He says that in his childhood, he was tricked by a fraud filmmaker, who promised to give him the role of Chiranjeevi’s childhood, which would be shot in America. But unfortunately, when the filmmaker turned out to be a kid trafficker, Sundar and his family was devastated. So now, when Sundar gets an opportunity to fulfill his dreams, he is asking Soumya’s favor to let him go to America in place of her. He also conveyed that the ongoing rituals in his family are not even setting him free, and that makes him more frustrated. But the intelligent Soumya easily understood where the lie was. So Sundar has to tell her the actual side of the story. He says that he is deeply in love with a Christian girl named Leela, who is also his school friend, and they want to get married on Amelia Island in the United States of America. So finally, Soumya agrees to tell a bunch of lies about her grandma’s death, which leads her boss to replace Soumya with Sundar under compulsion.
On the other hand, we also see Leela’s background. She comes from a Christian family who has never stopped Leela from being herself. But they’re pretty much orthodox about their daughter’s marriage. Child Leela got an anonymous postcard with Amelia Island’s picture on it, and since then, she decided to get married on that island. Now Leela has become a professional photographer, and she starts to see Sundar again after breaking up with her ex-boyfriend Vamsi. They start falling for each other, and at a friend’s marriage ceremony in Kerala, they decide to get married. That’s where the real story begins.
‘Ante Sundaraniki’ Ending Explained: Religion or Love, Who Wins The Battle?
Sundar and Leela start brainstorming ideas to convince their respective families to get married. While planning their way to establish their marriage, Sundar gets a dangerous idea that he almost forces Leela to accept. He suggests Leela tell her family that she is pregnant with Sundar’s child, and on the other hand, Sundar is going to tell his parents that he is infertile. According to their well-sketched plan, they informed their parents of their own versions of lies. Sundar and Leela come back to India, and they mistakenly swap their luggage. Sundar gets caught by his father. He tries to convince his parents that despite his infertility, a Christian woman agreed to marry him. Sundar’s father faces trouble trusting him, so he takes him to the doctor, but Sundar cleverly fakes all the medical tests.
Now Leela is facing a bigger problem. When she is asked to do the pregnancy test again, she uses Mountain Dew on the stick instead of her urine, and it comes out positive. Despite lying so intelligently to their parents, there is another problem: a man named Joseph, who is the pre-arranged groom for Leela. Despite Leela’s pregnancy, Joseph agrees to marry her. Sundar loses his calm and confesses to Joseph that Leela is lying about her pregnancy to get married to Sundar, and that puzzles Joseph. So Joseph starts bothering Leela by forcing her to tell the truth. Leela’s father breaks the engagement of Leela and Joseph and also explains that no matter what Leela has done, she has always been an honest person. He stops accusing his daughter of getting pregnant before marriage and also saves her from being judged by a stranger.
When the situation calms down, their families plan to meet up with each other. But right at the moment when they are about to spill all the beans, Leela’s pregnant sister Pushpa starts having pregnancy cramps, which leads Sundar’s parents to help Leela’s family in treating Pushpa, and that’s how they become closer to each other.
When their wedding arrangement starts, Leela’s mother comes to know from Joseph that Sundar once told him that Leela’s pregnancy was a lie. Confused, Leela’s mother immediately takes Leela to go for a medical check-up. On the other hand, in Sundar’s office, he comes to know that Soumya is going through the real death of her grandmother, and that utterly shocks him. He realizes that his unstoppable lies are responsible for these mishaps.
Suddenly, even more, strange news comes into their lives. Leela calls Sundar to let him know that she’s pregnant for real, as her test has come positive. Sundar gets so confused because they both know that they did not do anything that could lead to pregnancy. So Sundar suggests a last medical check-up for Leela, where she gets diagnosed with an ovarian tumor. In this medical condition, pregnancy tests often come back positive. Doctors suggest that she needs to go through a surgical procedure where her ovaries would be cut off, so her childbearing capability would be lost.
After this incident, Sundar realizes how a lie can have such fatal consequences. Heartbroken, Sundar confessed to Leela’s parents that he was the one who told Leela to lie about her pregnancy. Leela’s father gets mad at him and slaps him. But instead of getting offended, Sundar bravely asks her parents to marry her. He even says that he doesn’t care about Leela’s inability to give birth because he thinks pregnancy is a freedom of choice, not a compulsion.
After Sundar’s decision, his family disagrees with getting them married. But his mother finally stands out against this inequity. She asks them to be empathetic for the very last time. She tells her mother-in-law not to categorize Leela in terms of her caste and fertility, but to see him as a human being for once. Her words work like magic, and they touch her mother-in-law so much that she finally gives her consent by joyfully playing her Veena after a long time. Thus, Sundar and Leela, despite all the ups and downs, finally get together and get married at Leela’s dream destination, Amelia Island in America.
In the post-credit scenes, we see Sundar confessing to Leela that Amelia Island’s postcard was sent by him. Leela says that she knows that already and also confesses that she lied about the first female photographer, Carla. It was a made-up story, and she was just her tuition teacher. Surprised, Sundar runs towards Leela to grab her, and we see them happily running and giggling on a beautiful sandy beach on Amelia Island.
Final Thoughts: Why ‘Ante Sundaraniki’ Is Worth-Watching?
The South Indian film industry is the most versatile industry now working in India. And movies like “Ante Sundaraniki” are proof of their innovative efforts in filmmaking. This is a very enjoyable movie. Although the length of this movie was a bit longer, unnecessary scenes like exaggerations of their childhood stories were not needed. But with so many plus points, this movie did not disappoint us to any extent. Mentionable, there are certain scenes in “Ante Sundaraniki” where the protagonists are talking to their younger selves. These sequences set the movie apart from the traditional structure of the romantic comedy genre. Also, let’s take a moment to praise how Athreya beautifully shows the dream sequences through his eye-candy visuals. This movie offers us a perfect story that shows us how to love and, most importantly, how to break free through loopholes in society. We have seen romantic films for ages but “Ante Sundaraniki” with out-of-the-box storytelling and skillful visual presentation makes every part appealing to the audience.
“Ante Sundaraniki” is a 2022 Indian Film streaming on Netflix with subtitles.