Five years ago, Gauri Shinde in her directorial debut ENGLISH VINGLISH told a wonderful story of an enterprising housewife. What’s surprising is that there are millions of such women in India but very few films have been made on them. Suresh Triveni now takes up the challenge to talk about a housewife in TUMHARI SULU. But unlike ENGLISH VINGLISH, this one is more light-hearted and funny. So does it manage to touch audiences and make them smile or does it disappoint? Let’s analyse.
TUMHARI SULU is the story of an enterprising housewife who turns RJ with a late-night semi-adult radio show. Sulochana (Vidya Balan) is a homemaker in Mumbai and is happily married to Ashok (Manav Kaul) and also has a son, Pranav (Abhishek Sharrma). Sulochana has a strong desire to do something in life and not waste her time just serving her family. One day, she wins a pressure cooker on a radio show hosted by the popular RJ Albeli Anjali (Malishka Mendonsa). Sulochana goes to collect the cooker and happens to find out that the radio channel is looking for RJs. She approaches Maria (Neha Dhupia) who runs the radio station and tells her that she is interested. Maria gives her the late night slot and Sulochana is asked to run a semi-adult show. Sulochana starts working as an RJ and her show becomes a hit. How it leads to problems and madness in her life forms the rest of the film.
TUMHARI SULU commences beautifully and instantly sets the mood. The film is in the space of Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Basu Chatterjee cinema and that’s a plus point. However after the introduction of the principle characters, the pace and the interest levels drop. The first half is devoid of meat. It’s only when Sulu decides to turn RJ and auditions for it is when the film becomes interesting. The second half is better as Sulu successfully runs the late night show. The manner in which Sulu balances her home as well as her job is nicely depicted. Also the way Sulu gets judged and taunted by her sisters comes across as very real. However, the pace of the film is very slow and that really affects the impact. Moreover the sudden success of Sulu's show looks a bit unreal. The 140 minute long film should have been 15-20 minutes shorter. The climax is ambiguous and should have been a bit simpler. However the final scene makes up for it.
Suresh Triveni’s story is simple and extremely relatable. Suresh Triveni’s screenplay is impressive in most scenes but gets a bit dragging in few sequences. Suresh Triveni’s dialogues are realistic and witty at places. Special mention should also go to Vijay Maurya’s additional screenplay and dialogues. Suresh Triveni’s direction is uncomplicated and that works a lot for the film. The setting, the characters and their problems are as real as it gets and hence majority of the moviegoers would be able to connect with the goings on. But on the flipside, he takes his own sweet time to build up the story in the initial hour. The same happens in the middle of the second half too.
Vidya Balan is the soul of the film and she takes the film to another level altogether. This is her most accomplished work after KAHAANI and is bound to impress one and all. As the happy go lucky housewife, she gets into the skin of her character and performs with perfection. Manav Kaul looks dashing and compliments Vidya very well. He gets to play an interesting character and comes out with flying colours. Neha Dhupia looks glamorous and performs very well. Vijay Maurya (Pankaj) is hilarious in the first hour. Though he doesn’t have much to do in the second half, he leaves a mark. Abhishek Sharrma is decent. Malishka Mendonsa is confident in a cameo. Ayushmann Khurrana appears in a scene and is endearing. Seema Taneja (Sulu’s sister Aradhana) and Sindhu Shekharan (Sulu’s sister Kalpabna) are very good. Sonel Singh (receptionist Girija) leaves a mark especially in her first scene. Santanu Ghatak (Sachin, Ashok’s new pace) gives a convincing performance. Bhumika Dube (Gym receptionist) is fair while Trupti Khamkar (Ola driver) gets to essay a wonderful character and is memorable.
Talking of songs, ‘Hawa Hawai 2.0’ stands out and is well picturised. The next best is ‘Ban Ja Rani’ which has a realistic and endearing feel. ‘Farrata’ looks a bit out of place especially the shots of guys B-boying. ‘Rafu’ is soulful but gets a bit lost.
Karan Kulkarni’s background score is novel and enhances the interest. Saurabh Goswami’s cinematography is neat and satisfactory. Dhara Jain’s production design is straight out of life and highly convincing. Shivkumar Panicker’s editing should have been slicker. Rick Roy’s costumes are very authentic, especially the sarees worn by Vidya Balan.
On the whole, TUMHARI SULU is a lovely, endearing tale though the long length and the slow pace of the film might play spoilsport.