• Director: Suresh Triveni
  • Cast: Vidya Balan, Manav Kaul, Neha Dhupia
  • Rating: 3.5 stars

Sulu may have failed her 12th standard exams but she’s clearly a winner in life!

Sulochana is a middle class homemaker living in Virar, with her husband, Ashok and eleven year old son Pranav. And while for most part they are her world, she has a knack for taking part in every contest possible! So from ‘fastest vegetable chopping’ to ‘Lata Mangeshkar sad songs’ to ‘lemon and spoon race’ – Sulu has done it all!

And it’s this attitude of hers, to have a go anything she can think of, that lands her the unconventional job of an RJ on a late night show.

‘Tumhari Sulu’ perhaps speaks for so many homemakers who set themselves into the background while being a pillar of strength and facilitating the dreams of their near and dear ones.

But Sulu dares to dream, even though her father and high achieving banker twin sisters often remind her and put her down for failing her 12th standard exams. She is optimistic and full of life in the midst of dreary household chores that fill up her days. After the morning rush of breakfast, packing tiffins and seeing off her husband and kid, she settles into the quiet of the house, listens to the radio and talks to the pigeons on her sun soaked windows. There is an endearing scene, where enamored by the glamorous airhostesses who are her neighbors, she tries to strike up a conversation with them by inviting them over for tea. Perhaps seeking some company.

And when Sulu wins a pressure cooker at a Radio show contest she took part in, even something as simple as going to pick up the prize is an occasion for her. She dresses up in a beautiful saree, there is a spring in her step and beams as she takes off in an auto. And it’s these little moments so close to life and yet so beautifully portrayed that make ‘Tumhari Sulu’ such an enjoyable watch. There’s tons of humor injected through Sulu’s vibrant character and the first half is a breeze. Sulu’s joie de vivre and charm is simply contagious.

It is just sheer pleasure to watch Vidya Balan unfold as Sulu’s character as the film progresses. She fills up the screen with her warmth and vibrance. From her impersonation of Sridevi to her honest blunt answers to anyone who tries to cut her short, to her transformation to the seductive late night RJ – Vidya Balan is magic! Her full of life laughter and beautifully textured voice just add to Sulu’s exuberance.

Manav Kaul as Ashok is yin to Sulu’s yan. He is the emotional foil to her exuberance. Ashok is the quieter sort, does get bullied by Sulu at times, feels the pressure at his work place in a garment factory after a new boss takes over. While in the first half, his character comes off as one-dimensional – it’s in the second half that more nuances creep in.

Then there is a scene with a lady cabbie (Trupti Khamkar) who drives Sulu to the radio station every night that really stands out – as both get into a conversation about their night jobs – the cabbie reveals how she finally left her husband because he couldn’t cope up her job.

Differences between Sulu and Ashok also crop up as he is unable to reconcile with his wife’s new ‘sexy voice’ avatar where she speaks to lonely men calling in – from auto drivers to a widowed old man. Sulu for her part is determined to keep up with her role and juggles between her new job and her domestic chores at home – a reality for many women who have to handle both ends. And then comes a decision point for Sulu there is a crisis with her son at school.

Director Suresh Triveni interweaves all the nuances, details and references beautifully in this heartwarming film. The delightful background score to life’s everyday happenings and the pull out shot every night as Sulu and Ashok sum up the day add to the charm. But the film’s second half is where the pace starts to lag a bit and as the climax unfolds – the melodrama seems out of tune.

But Vidya Balan’s brilliant acting chops see through these quibbles and ‘Tumhari Sulu’ much like it’s central character ‘Sulu’ is a winner!

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