Tumhari Sulu review: A balancing act that seems clumsy

A still from ‘Tumhari Sulu.’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A tired homemaker asking her husband to press her feet, the husband expressing fears about his thinning hairline to her; she mimicking Hema Malini and Sridevi and the two singing S.P. Balasubrahmanyam together at night — almost like a secret that only the two share. Then there is the third angle of the triangle; their adolescent son, a casualty of peer pressure and raging hormones. There is something well-tuned in the dynamics of this small, middle class, Virar family of plump as a peach Sulochana aka Sulu (Vidya Balan), gauche Ashok (Manav Kaul) and gangly Pranav (Abhishek Sharma).

There are other odd throwaway details. Ashok’s middle class ways of saving on the AC in the car with the windows always down. Or Mathuradas — the office where he works — caught in a time warp, filled with oldies, where Ashok appears to be the only one with a mop of jet black hair, always unsuccessful in resolving the regular office quarrels. Debutante Suresh Triveni has a thing for such oddball humour.

The focus, as expected, is on Sulu. Everybody around coaxes her to work but she is happy in her domesticity. Till she gets to do the late night Sariwali Bhabhi show on radio, talking huskily to strangers about love and more. There was immense possibility to do something uncommon here — what happens when a coy, sweet housewife begins talking dirty on air, how she finds self-actualisation while filling the loneliness of lost souls.

Tumhari Sulu
  • Director: Suresh Triveni
  • Starring: Vidya Balan, Manav Kaul, Neha Dhupia, Malishka, Vijay Maurya, Abhishek Sharma
  • Run time: 140 minutes
  • Storyline: Life for Sulu, and her husband and son, goes for a spin when she decided to become a night time RJ.

But the film merely teases a bit and then quickly goes into the self-righteous Munnabhai zone — the sanskari Sulu, instead of going off-kilter, goes on to help an old widower with her sweet talk and endears herself to everyone. The familiar clichés — guilt of neglecting the family, a jealous husband facing his own issues at work — follow. The balance between home and work, under which so many homemakers crack up, does get restored rather clumsily and the film safely comes a full circle. Sulu doesn’t quite drop the lemon, she just can’t.

Despite an essentially subtle core the film is also oddly packed with a shrillness. Be it the excessive laughter of the lead — you laugh along with her a bit and then begin getting irritated — or the extreme shedding of tears later. However, Vidya Balan puts her best foot forward to make it all likeable with Manav Kaul supporting ably as the common man husband.

The characters around get way too caricaturised and loud — be it the hateful, young, new boss of the husband, the receptionist in office or the elder twin sisters and father who are particularly unbearable in their humiliation of Sulu and leave you wondering why she didn’t break off all her ties with them.

The assertion comes way too late. But then she doesn’t represent a radical break away anyhow. It is about adjustments within the status quo, however unconvincing it may feel or however different you may want it to pan out for yourself.

A word about the music: if I was left humming ‘Jaane De’ after watching Qarib Qarib Singlle last week, this Friday it’s the turn of ‘Rafu’, a beautiful ode about bridging the yawning gaps and detachments in a relationship: “Kuchh tune si hai, maine ki hai rafu ye dooriyaan (You have stitched a bit and I have darned the distances)”.

However, for me the most significant aspect of Tumhari Sulu is the moment where the wife talks of her husband being as simple as a gaai (cow). For a change it’s not the woman who is being called bovine.

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Printable version | Oct 13, 2021 10:36:44 PM |

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