Two words: Vidya Balan.
Take her out of this film and we would have had a pretty average film on the screens. This isn’t a film big on “story”. It follows the life of an impulsive and ever-ready middle class woman who has a thing for trying new things and trying to win at them, enjoying every minute of this in the process. Vidya’s Sulochana (fondly called Sulu) is not afraid of failing at things she participates in. The process, the journey – that’s what matters to Sulu. She’s genuinely happy for winning simple, small things like pressure cookers and the like at various contests both in and outside of her housing society. What happens on one such visit to a radio station to collect her winning goodies changes the course of Vidya’s life….well, at least for a while. How she handles this forms the rest of the story.
Good things first, casting Balan wasn’t ever a choice. This role SCREAMED for Balan to be cast. Honestly, I cannot think of anyone else who’d do so much justice to this role as Vidya did. She fits the role of a middle class housewife to a T, flaunting her simple saris and hardly any makeup. One look at her and you’d be convinced she’s Sulu. Looks apart, I cannot think of anyone else who’s as expressive as Balan. Sulu’s “Main kar sakti hain” attitude is infectious and thankfully for the film, never goes over-board to the point of getting annoying. Thumbs up for casting the under-utilized but exceptionally talented theater actor and director Manav Kaul as Ashok, Sulu’s husband. Manav’s portrayal of various emotions – love, anger, sadness, insecurity among others – stands as a testament to the man’s vast experience in theater. When he dances to Ban Ja Tu Meri Raani, it’s just endearing!
The first half of the film hits all the right notes. This portion of the film is a breeze, never too heavy, never too serious. It’s almost like Vidya’s character graph and the film itself are in perfect tandem here. As Sulu’s life gets complicated, so does the film and needlessly so. As Sulu’s work starts to interfere with her personal, family life and her career choices are questioned by her immediately family, even her sweet husband, the film also takes many dips in narration. There’s also a thread about Sulu’s son Pranav getting into trouble at school for messing up things like teenagers always do. And this dude runs away from home after a lot of drama. This could have been passed in favor of a more convincing plot point. So, thanks to some unnecessary digressions and a slowed-down pace, the second half of the film is not as enjoyable as the first. But good news! We have Vidya Balan lighting up the dull portions of the film as well.
Overall, Tumhari Sulu is a cute little film with Vidya towering above anything and everything else. This one’s a good watch! I’m going with 3.5 out of 5!
PS: All the images are screenshots from the film’s official trailer on YouTube.