Kumari Srimathi

Kumari Srimathi

A smartly written Telugu family drama with an underdog protagonist worth rooting for

7.5

TV Show

India
Telugu
Comedy, Drama
2023
GOMTESH UPADHYE
Babu Mohan, Gautami Tadimalla, Madhavi Latha

TLDR

Move over, antihero dramas—the age of the underdog trying to start a small food and beverage business is here.

What it's about

In order to make enough money to buy back her late grandfather's ancestral home, an independent woman defies her family by attempting to open her own bar.

The take

Sometimes the ability to create good drama (and comedy!) just depends on one's attentiveness to how the world works and how people would reasonably react to it. And this new Telugu-language series illustrates this perceptiveness and empathy to great effect. Kumari Srimathi tells a story free of unnecessary gimmicks and stylization, but still manages to make clashing cultural values and the struggle to make money compelling just through an attention to detail.

Right off the bat, there's so much that drives Siri, our title character: her love for her late grandfather, her frustration with her conservative but well-meaning family, and her outrage at all the assumptions people make about her as a single woman. All of this is channeled into her impulsive gamble to save their old ancestral home. But Siri, played by a tough and incredibly sympathetic Nithya Menen, isn't the only star of the show. Many times these family dramas are content with assigning stereotypes to secondary characters. And this show also admittedly does this, but there are significantly more of them who feel just as real as the protagonist—all attempting to negotiate for the things that matter most to them, all coming from an earnest place.

What stands out

Siri could've easily been portrayed as either too naive or too unlikable, but Nithya Menen finds a strong, determined center to this character that avoids the usual tropes we might associate with the independent woman. Whereas many Hollywood productions might still try to focus on simply making a character like this appear desirable—as if her independence is something she needs to be rescued from, or rewarded with a relationship—Kumari Srimathi (or at least its first two episodes watched for this review) keeps her dedicated to her mission. She moves through the world with purpose, almost like she's in a legal thriller rather than a family dramedy, and it makes her all the easier to cheer on.

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