Film: Tumhari Sulu
Cast: Vidya Balan, Manav Kaul, Neha Dhupia, Vijay Maurya, RJMallishka, Santanu Ghatak, Abhishek Sharma, Sindhu Shekharan, Seema Taneja, Uday Lagoo, Trupti Khamkar
Director: Suresh Triveni
Rating: * * ½
This woman-centric film from Suresh Triveni has Vidya Balan essaying the role of an opportunistic housewife who pesters her way into a job as an RJ at RadioWOW run by Maria (Neha Dhupia). But that’s not about all. Her older sisters (overbearing twins) and father are constantly on her case.
Sulochana a.k.a Sulu largely depends on her husband Ashok (Manav Kaul) to embellish her self-worth. They met each other when they were in the 12th standard and both ended up failing. Sulu’s self-deprecating psychological make-up is therefore understandable. But Sulu has won prizes at several trivial competitions.
The part where she becomes a late-night RJ is pretty much convoluted and unbelievable. Conveniently enough, the producer/writer, Pankaj (Vijay Maurya) of a radio show, walks out and Maria decides to give Sulu a try, on a lark. It’s also quite confounding that Sulu gets her show-in as an RJ while Pankaj continues to stay on as an assist. Sulu’s Radio Jockeying talent is limited to voicing sexy, throaty hellos and switching to old melodious Hindi film songs so Sulu’s skill is not really on song here. It’s the complications that develop within her family, because of her part-time night job, that takes centre stage here. And it’s all pretty much contrived and tedious.
Tumhari Sulu begins in humorous and engaging fashion. The interplay between husband and wife, their son and the extended family is reminiscent of a regular humdrum, distinctly middle-class existence. The slice-of-life treatment with interesting gritty asides about the struggling working-class characters is well brought out. The repetition of it is a bane though.
Sulu and Ashok, have their own ‘private’ kinky way of spicing up their lives (by singing S.D Balasubramaniam’s Batata Wada of all things) – so when she sings that song for her radio audience, Ashok is understandably miffed. But just when you thought this would be a breezy, entertaining experience, a contrivance takes hold. The crack in the happy-go-lucky relationship between Sulu and Ashok appears when they are confronted with their son’s growing petty delinquency. And that’s also when the film begins to lose steam.
The career woman- mother conflict isn’t brought out well enough and its eventual resolution is even more peculiar and unsatisfactory. The sloppily orchestrated second half implies a lack of ideas and cramped out imagination and the slap-dash ending rather highlights that aspect. Suresh Triveni’s narrative doesn’t quite know where it wants to go- comedy or family drama? as a result Tumhari Sulu becomes quite exasperating towards the end. Balan’s riff of Hawa Hawaii doesn’t measure up to the original either. It feels half-hearted and clumsy. If not for the wonderfully expressive performances by Vidya Balan (a tad overdone at times), Manav Kaul, Neha Dhupia, Santanu Ghatak and Abhishek Sharma as Pranav, Sulu’s son, and the promising beginning, this film would have been a lost cause.