I couldn’t look beyond Vidya Balan’s face throughout Tumhari Sulu. She has more than enough expressions to hypnotise her audience. Even if I did, it’s only when she was using her body to convey something about her character. This setup was for that idiot reporter who asked her that ridiculous question.
Now here is an actress who not only knows her craft but has the emotional intellect to grasp the nuances of any character she plays. I almost always forget the star she is and the rock-solid nichè she has created for herself in the male-dominated industry.
Sulu is a character that only Balan could have made her own. She is a vulnerable one, it needed precise conveying of inner guilt and conflict a woman typically feels when faced with the career vs kid dilemma. And how she does that effortlessly. If you don’t feel like hugging her in those moments when her family puts her down and questions her free spirit and her determination, then I’d say you need a new heart. Balan just nails it down pat. Despite the setbacks and criticism, she marches on: simple, positive and full of spunk and humour.
Now let’s talk Suresh Triveni and how he churns out this wonderfully warm story of a bored, adventurous housewife who achieves the impossible dream of becoming an RJ. The debutante writer and director chose to launch his career with this sparkling movie. The direction is not without it rough edges but it actually works well in the context of the film. I would give the movie 5 stars just for that one scene where Sulu gives her first voice test, along with Pankaj (Vijay Maurya), Maria (Neha Dhupia) and Albeli Anjali (Malishka). Even when the actors weren’t doing a thing on screen, I couldn’t stop laughing.
There is much more to the writing though. It’s the space he gives Sulu on screen to be herself despite her mundane surroundings. The little moments he creates, where we see her as a bored housewife with a thirst to do something of her own. Her preening with the handbag. Genius. When she confidently tells her husband Ashok (Manav Kaul), partnership nahi jamega. The pride she takes in the local prizes and competitions she has won. How she flourishes in her new career and then breaks down when she loses her husband’s support. Oh and let’s not forget the peas.
Kaul is the perfect foil for Balan’s energy. No doubt he is an excellent actor, as comfortable showing his dance moves as he is displaying his histrionics. He easily balances the positive of an indulgent husband with the negative of being momentarily selfish.
The immensely talented Neha Dhupia is filled with grace, aura and confidence. Actor Vijay Maurya is a hoot everytime he appears on screen.
The best thing about Tumhari Sulu is that it touches on issues but doesn’t attempt to preach or deliver a sermon. Sulu’s late-night RJing doesn’t bother her one bit. Her husband is fine with it until her own family starts judging the content of her work. Then there is the age-old question: who cares for the son when a mother works. The conflicts are real yet solved without much dwelling and drama.
The music is quirky, created by assorted composers old and new. Choreography, fun and frolic-y. Ashok’s heroic attempt at seducing Sulu, Ban Ja Rani (Guru Randhawa). Sulu’s ode to Sridevi, Hawa Hawaii (Laxmikant Pyarelal). Sulu’s cry to freedom Manva Likes To Fly (Tanishk Bagchi) is a fabulous female anthem. The fun and frolic-y Farrata (Amartya Rahut). The softly fraying Raffu (Santanu Ghatak).
Very few movies take slices from life and manage to give it love, warmth and humour. It’s a resounding 5 from me for this Sulu tale who takes equal pride in her peas as she does in her sssexy Helloooos.