‘Beauty and the Feast’ Review: Sumukhi Suresh Back With a Fun Show

Is the new Hotstar show worth a watch?

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Sumukhi Suresh and Abish Mathew in an episode on <i>Beauty and the Feast</i>.
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Of all the stand-up comedians trying their hand at acting now, Sumukhi Suresh is perhaps the most promising. The funny girl has been creating back-to-back shows for OTT platforms, which are at once funny, thought-provoking and - wait for it - original. Where most of the others are trying to portray the “cool” struggles of the millennial generation - which are, sorry to burst the bubble, not that unique- Suresh is usually busy pointing out their hollowness and subverting cliches even as she makes you chuckle. Watch Pushpavalli and Behti Naak if you have no idea what we are talking about.

And now, Sumukhi Suresh is back with a new show on Hotstar. Beauty and the Feast, directed by Pooja Sampath and co-written by Suresh and Sumaira Sheikh, is a combo of a chat and cookery show. Spinning off the all’s-well-in-the-end fairy tale metaphor, It revolves around Beauty (Suresh), a girl who doesn’t have any friends and so, takes some desperate measures to get people to talk to her.

Airing every Wednesday, the episodes (three out till now) are each of around 12 minutes in duration, and has Suresh chatting with celebrities even as she whips up delicious meals for them.

Now the cookery-chat show format is not too original. But what makes it interesting is the backstory.

The first couple of episodes give us a peek into why Beauty is doing what she is doing, and Sumukhi Suresh plays to her strengths here - etching out a character who - like Pushpavalli - is vulnerable, desperate, and very familiar. One really hopes to see more of her story in the coming episodes.

Coming to the interviews, the first two episodes, featuring fellow comedians Abish Mathew, Mallika Dua and Kaneez Surka, are pithy and fun, focus more on the personal than professional. The third episode falls a bit flat simply because of the star guest - Sidharth Malhotra - and the heard-this-a-million-times feeling.

Note to Suresh: Please stay clear of Bollywood. We have too much of them everywhere already!

Sumukhi Suresh in a still from <i>Beauty and the Feast</i>.
Sumukhi Suresh in a still from Beauty and the Feast.
(Photo courtesy: Hotstar)

The cookery sequences are well shot, with Suresh whipping up a fair mix of the regional and the exotic. A good place to get some quick meal ideas if you are feeling too lazy to research.

The main problem with Beauty and the Feast is that the duration of an episode allows time for too little.

You are left wishing to know more about Beauty - like it or not, she is way more interesting than her guests. You want to find out some more about the guests, and you wish you could see some more of the cooking! Keeping the episodes really short might just be a consequence of the famed understanding that millennials lack an attention span. But, what about like, five minutes more?

In its current avatar, Beauty and the Feast is a purely lighthearted, fun show with just a hint of the real and the fragile. It would be interesting to see if Suresh keeps it to this or explores the latter more as the show develops. Either way, it’s another colourful feather to Suresh’s cap.

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