Movie review – Tumhari Sulu (Hindi)

Been quite a while that I stepped out of the house to catch a new Bollywood release.  The rain in Kolkata has been acting childish with torrential downpours on and off. Being an ardent fan of Vidya Balan, it was a impulsive decision to venture out of the house to catch the second show of her latest release Tumhari Sulu at Bioscope, Axis Mall,Kolkata. Here goes my detailed analysis of the movie.

Cast –

  • Vidya Balan (Sulochona aka Sulu)
  • Manav Kaul (Ashok)
  • Neha Dhupia (Maria)
  • RJ Mallishka (Albeli Anjali)
  • Vijay Maurya (Pankaj)
  • Abhishek Sharma (Pranav)

Direction – Suresh Triveni

Duration – 123 minutes

Tumhari Sulu belongs to the genre of comedy-drama. The film begins with the joyful and effervescent Sulochana,mostly referred to as Sulu, winning a spoon and lemon race at her son’s school competition,as her husband and son cheer on. We are introduced to her  maternal family soon after – her two twin sisters working in a bank, her brothers in law and her father. None of them think very high of her because she is twelfth fail and more so as she was having a scene with Ashok and chit funds during her third attempt to clear the boards. Their sarcasm is more often than not lost on Sulu who lives by the belief that “Sulu kuch bhi kar sakti hai”(Sulu can do anything). She has her husband and sons support though. Ashok works in a garment factory while her son goes to school. Sulu keeps herself busy with the household chores and taking care of her family but deep within she aspires to have an identity of her own. There are few brilliant moments in the movie that capture this internal conflict beautifully. She has a knack of participating in events and mostly winning them. In one such contest win of Radio Wow, she reaches the office to collect her gift – a pressure cooker. She comes across a poster of RJ hunt and convinces Albeli Anjali to give her a chance. Anjali takes her to their boss Maria Ma’am who’s amused by Sulu’s antics. A sudden crisis in the radio office gets Sulu her coveted audition and she (sari wali bhabhi as Maria refers to her) gets selected as a RJ for a late night show. There begins the new life of RJ Sulu. In the meanwhile, Ashok has a change of boss at his work place who makes his life hell. Their son goes through a difficult phase  soon after and her family including Ashok as expected blames her for being the one responsible for the current mess. How Sulu fights it out and whether she gives in or emerges a winner in this real life struggle is for the audience to figure out in the last half of the movie.

This is an out and out Vidya Balan’s movie and she fits the character perfectly. Sulu could be just anyone of us – a middle aged housewife happy in her home maker role yet aspiring to be more. Sulu’s fun, she’s full of life, doesn’t let go of her dreams and tries to find  an opportunity in every situation. She’s the positive soul we all need in our lives. Seeing Neha Dhupia after so long just got me thinking how much talent we have in Bollywood. Given meatier roles, I’m sure that she can definitely do wonders. She makes you love Maria for the human touch that she brings to her character. RJ Mallishka in a very small role is good. Manav Kaul is simply brilliant. He’s the quintessential supportive husband turned jealous guy of his suddenly famous wife. The movie has only three songs  to groove to- the chart topping Ban ja tu meri rani by Guru Randhwa, foot tapping Manva and the blockbuster classic Hawa Hawai.

The first half of the movie is thoroughly entertaining. There was hardly a moment when I wasn’t smiling or laughing my heart out because most of the scenes were laden with  the correct scoop of comedy-quite subtly at times. Candid moments like those of Sulu Ashok have been amazingly framed at times. The second half of the movie was all about stereotypes and a highly predictive climax. I could sense the audience getting impatient. It felt like the movie was dragging often quite unnecessarily. The second half definitely needed trimming.

The film in it’s endeavor to be women centric has lost out on giving proper shape and sketch to the male characters. Be it Ashok or Pankaj, none of them have been given  proper layers. Infact we hardly get to hear Sulu’s brothers in law even though her twin sisters seem to have a mind of their own. Ashok , shown to be a decent and supportive husband turns insecure so fast and for such small reasons that one is left to wonder if the director was in a hurry to get this finished. While I am all for women empowerment, it would be great to see a women oriented movie with well etched out male characters for a change. Also the fact that Ashok’s character is so quickly and melodramatically stereotyped is quite boring.

There are few instances in this movie that really makes me wonder if the makers have failed to understand what empowerment is all about. There’s a women Ola cabbie who takes Sulu back and forth to her office every late evening. And I wonder why only her! While a few might arugue saying that here’s a film that shows a female driver working late hours making it pro feminist, I am simply stunned that are we touching on the highly important aspect of women safety in such a ridiculous way. That the solution to odd working hours for women is only through another woman. By being non inclusive of the other gender in such detailing, I feel that the movie totally misses out on the point.

Sulu’s decision in the pre-climax part of the movie is based on the guilt ridden conscience catalyzed by her sisters and  Ashok. And in just a few minutes, things take a happy turn of events quite simply. Like really! Here we are talking about a woman who believes in making things happen and whose sense of humor stays intact even when things don’t go her way .There at the end we are left with a woman who lets her family decide her happiness and her life because that’s how responsibility is shared. I was at my wit’s end. Again the climax was so random and quick that it managed to totally confuse the audience. I could hear few murmurs in the hall with the people asking each other about what exactly happened. Not to forget the part that gives a hint of the fact that women get to choose their careers only when their husbands get to have a flourishing career as well. This is where Tumhari Sulu goes all wrong. For working women, who already have a tough time managing work and family life, this is definitely a movie giving out wrong signals in quite a few occasions.

I would go for a rating of 2.5 of 5(average).

Overall, this is just another movie with a simple story and highly predictable situations. Watch it only if you are a die hard Vidya Balan fan or would prefer a clean and routine family movie over the weekend. Other than exceptional performances, there’s nothing much that stands out in this movie in terms of content. I’m still left wondering if this was a pro women or pro men deciding for women message from the makers.

Author: Sonia Chatterjee

Who am I? An erstwhile banker turned blogger/writer/author. Any qualifications? A Post-Graduate degree in Chemistry followed by a second Post-Graduate Diploma in Management. I completed a one-year MFA in creative writing course from the Writer's Village University, U.S. in Dec 2020. Though I must admit that I am still trying to figure out how and when I can connect all these dots. Have I done any real work? If two years in market research, six years in banking as a branch head, three-plus years of blogging, writing, and publishing a book can be considered as real work, then yes! Where do I live? After spending life like a nomad for sixteen years in Delhi, Bangalore & Mysore, I am back to where it all started from - Kolkata. My favorite things - Books, coffee, travel, food, and my five-year-old son. What is this blog about? Through Sonia's musings, I intend to explore writing in various genres, create social awareness, spread laughter, and give words to emotions. Anything for readers? You can check out my book 'Deal of Death' on Amazon Kindle. If you like fast-paced thrillers, this Detective fiction introducing the woman sleuth, Raya Ray could turn out to be your perfect weekend read.

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