T-Series & Ellipsis Entertainment present “Tumhari Sulu”
Produced by: Bhushan Kumar, Krishan Kumar, Tanuj Garg, Atul Kasbekar &
Shanti Sivaram Maini
Directed by: Suresh Triveni
Written by: Suresh Triveni & Vijay Maurya
Music: Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Guru Randhawa, Rajat Nagpal, Tanishk Bagchi,
Amartya Rahut & Santanu Ghatak
Starring: Vidya Balan, Manav Kaul, Neha Dhupia, Vijay Maurya, Malishka Mendonsa, Abhishek Sharma, Seema Taneja, Sindhu Shekharan, Sonel Singh, Bhumika Dube, Santanu Ghatak, Trupti Khamkar and others
Welcome of sorts to the Virar (Mumbai’s offshoot city) middle-class Dube family – hubby Ashok(Manav Kaul), wife Sulochana (Vidya Balan) and son Pranav (Abhishek Sharma). Ashok works like a dog for a non-specific company, whose new, young boss is a tyrant who does not know how to treat loyal and good employees.
Sulochana is prone to diversions like local contests and competitions and has a history of quirky wins in them. She also has an individualistic sense of humor and is very garrulous. The child is going through a hormonal upheaval in his teenage and sees Sunny Leone pictures and DVDs and the likes, along with his classmates.
The family is harangued by Sulochana’s sisters (Seema Taneja, Sindhu Shekharan), who terms her irritable and flighty and come home periodically to have spats with her along with their doormat (!)-like father. The story begins when Sulochana wins a pressure cooker in a radio contest and goes to collect it. She expresses a desire to turn RJ, and due to a short and illogical chain of circumstances, station head Maria (Neha Dhupia) tries her out along with her subordinate Pankaj (Vijay Maurya).
And whaddayaknow, they hit upon a late-night show where the quick-witted and talkative Sulu (as she is called by hubby and on her show “Tumhari Sulu”) does the semi-sensual needful, and the program becomes a rage. As it is a live show, she travels every night to the station and fresh problems erupt at home and with her family. What happens next to the harangued trio, especially since Ashok and Pranav also land in trouble in their job and school respectively?
The basic idea is interesting, but after getting a bright inspiration of a dowdy middle-class homemaker turning RJ for a late-night show, writer-director Triveni falls woefully short in the follow-up. The treatment is so slice-of-life it is largely drab and dry, but for sporadic one-liners and situations. And then the errors and absurdities just keep piling up, making the proceedings look absurd and even unfunny.
Let us list some of the prominent gaffes: the family is placed, for no reason on earth, in Virar instead of in a Mumbai suburb. The director does not seem to know that driving even to Bandra (where the station is said to be based) would take over 2 hours one-way – at night!
The angle of the bitchy family, quite funny and even realistic in the beginning, starts grating when we find the frequency of their butting in with their regressive and rude talks, with even Ashok being remarkably mild – the Dubs even feed them tea and snacks while listening to their tirades! The issues of Pranav are sporadically shown, minus any true link to the main story and his issue is clumsily handled even in the end.
The radio station sequences are better, but the character of Pankaj is weird – needlessly so for the way the story is going. The Dubes seem to be a friendless family so that there are no neighbors in their lives of any kind despite their staying in a middle-class residential complex. The romantic interludes between the much-married couple are cute and lifelike, but the confusing tenor of Ashok’s reactions to various happenings in Sulu’s new professional life does not follow a steady character graph of a supposedly loving husband.
I could go on. But the gist is that the film, after a reasonably Basu Chaterjee-esque first half, peters down to a confused mélange sans any goal and also bores beyond redemption in the crucial (and overlong) second half. We lose count of the cab trips that become a dreary and repetitious drone, and the sequence of the missing Pranav is another drag irrelevantly added to the film – maybe there should have been a well-founded link between his adolescent forays into “forbidden territory” and his mother doing a late-night adult show.
The songs by a bevy of music makers just do not register (but for the obvious “Hawa Hawaai” directly incorporated in another re-use of a classic). The technical values are humble – the film is in 35 mm, not widescreen, as the filmmakers seem to be well aware of the limited scope of economics.
Vidya Balan starts off brilliantly, though, in the second half, her repetitiousness begins to grate, as in the few bad films she did early on in her career. The inept script does not help her either.
Manav Kaul tries his best, but the lead role in a big-screen film seems to unnerve him overall, and he emerges as just alright. Neha Dhupia and Vijay Maurya impress equally, and the sisters are correctly repulsive.
But in the final analysis, the film is a drag that neither has a social purpose nor entertains. Just being different and sporadically cute does not account for a movie worth your attention or time – or money.