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Kumari Srimathi review: Nithya Menen’s show is entertaining but stops short of being memorable

Despite a fantastic premise, the web series needed better writing and is overloaded with cinematic liberties

Kumari Srimathi review: Nithya Menen’s show is entertaining but stops short of being memorable
Kumari Srimathi

Last Updated: 02.55 AM, Sep 28, 2023



Srimathi, the eldest daughter in a lower middle-class family in Ramaraju Lanka, is a chef at a hotel. However, her evil uncle Kesava Rao hatches a plot to snatch the ancestral home from them and takes the matter to court. The judge grants Srimathi’s family a six month window to settle dues close to Rs 40 lakh to acquire the property. How far will she go to earn it? Open a bar, maybe?


Kumari Srimathi feels like a cute-little story of a family from your neighbourhood in your hometown, packed with situations you may’ve experienced or even heard of. The protagonist has the spirit of a rebellious Jayaprada in an Anthuleni Katha, but the show is positioned as a comedy.


This world is populated by a mother concerned about the marriage of her 30s something daughter, an irresponsible father who flees his home, an opportunistic uncle who sets his eyes on the ancestral property, a happy-go-lucky sister and a strong matriarch who’s the driving force of the family.

With Srinivas Avasarala, the writer, exploring a rural backdrop for the first time in his career, in a show headlined by Nithya Menen, the ingredients are ideal to tell an empowering yet a feel-good tale. You root for the terrific cast and crew, most importantly Srimathi, the underdog, to win.

There’s a sincere attempt to get into the headspace of women who go from pillar to post to run their family (in the absence of men). You get to explore their vulnerabilities, anxieties besides their never-say-die spirit. The show alternates between drama and comedy to offer a glimpse of life in a hamlet.

Beyond the family drama, there’s space for Srimathi’s love life too (more a love triangle) who’s caught between a shy neighbour and a flamboyant NRI. She’s a big-time Nani fan (which makes room for a sweet special appearance). She has her own desires and quirks, but carries the burden of running the family.

Srimathi’s idea to start a bar to make a quick buck and how she battles for her rights is terrific. The servers dress up in lungis in the bar, there’s a limit to the alcohol the customers can consume and there’s a drop facility too. A retired teacher handles registers and the grandma’s saris are used to decorate interiors.

While attempting to set up a business, she keeps landing in different problems, but the makers opt for simple, convenient resolutions, leaving you partially cheated as a viewer. The conflicts and the sub-plots are fragile, trivial at times and one feels Srimathi as a character isn’t being challenged enough.

The issue with Kumari Srimathi is the absence of a strong character who could stand up to the protagonist. The backdrop is colourful, progressive and vibrant though gets indulgently verbose. The dialogue-heavy storytelling doesn’t give the viewer enough space to breathe; everything is desperately spelt out.

The characterisation of the men in Srimathi’s life - Sriram and Abhinav - is poor in particular. While Abhinav at least has a life as a pilot and an ailing family member to take care of, there’s little identity to Sriram. All you know is that he’s the good guy who’s friend-zoned.

The return of a pivotal character in the final episode isn’t handled impressively either. The sudden change in tone feels simplistic and the makers try hard to justify Srimathi’s selflessness. A smart twist sets the tone for the second season.

The makers are often caught between retaining the feel-good ambience and driving the story forward. One senses their struggle to distance themselves from mainstream cinema sensibilities. Srinivas Avasarala gets extra conscious of being the Jandhyala of 2023 with the dialogues, characters and the whacky scenarios.

There’s a parody on the pronunciation of nincompoops and a dig at social media hashtags of celeb couples (Dorababu and Srimathi - Doramathi). There’s a Shankar Dada MBBS-style joke with literal translations of Telugu proverbs. Many such attempts contribute to the flavour of the show but are only partly funny.

Nithya Menen sleepwalks through a role tailormade for her - she’s the sole reason you stay glued to the show despite its issues. Talluri Rameswari’s casting is equally apt as the progressive grandma. Her authentic, peculiar accent is a huge bonus. Gauthami is impressive though she doesn’t get many moments to shine.

Thiruveer and Nirupam are sincere in their parts that deserved more meat. Praneeta Patnaik’s role has its own limitations too. Prem Sagar means business as usual while Rangasthalam Mahesh and Akshay Lagusani’s spirited presence adds sheen to show. Naresh arrives late and still makes a mark.


Staccato and Kamran succeed in lending an indie, countryside vibe to the soundscape. Mohana Krishna’s cinematography offers a vivid picture of life in the East Godavari region and the production design is one of its assets. Even as a story made for a web audience, Kumari Srimathi could’ve been a compact film (than a show).

First-time director Gomtesh Upadhye displays a fair understanding of pop-culture and trends in small-town. One feels he was asked to be too loyal to the material, play safe while the show could’ve afford a different spin from someone who’s alien to Telugu culture.


Kumari Srimathi is a largely entertaining, progressive web show with fabulous performances by Nithya Menen and Talluri Rameshwari besides some sparks in Srinivas Avasarala’s writing. The series loses its way while trying to do many things at once - be funny, inspirational and please all audiences. Not many characters beyond Srimathi get enough scope to stand out.


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