'Tumhari Sulu': Vidya Balan delivers a knock out performance

Cast: Viday Balan, Manav Kaul, Neha Dhupia

Director: Suresh Triveni

Stars: 3/5

Vidya Balan is among the few actors of this generation who can rise above the script and stamp their authority on a film. Vidya’s sterling acting chops are on full display in her latest release ‘Tumhari Sulu’. She plays a housewife (Sulu) gung-ho about carving out a career, but is an object of derision for her father and twin sisters since childhood because she flunked thrice in her class 12 exams.

Even after she’s married – although her husband and kid are somewhat considerate – Sulu continues to be undermined, despite a spate of ‘achievements’ such as finishing runner-up in the lemon-spoon race and receiving the residential society’s ‘Best Mom.

For all her dabbling in various things, Vidya’s character appears to be still searching for that one true calling.

Sulu’s life takes a fortuitous turn when she goes to a radio station to collect a pressure cooker that she has won in a contest. There she meets Maria (Neha Dhupia) who is heading the station and gives an audition. Inspired by her sensuous voice, distinctive intonation and undying zest, Neha decides to take a leap of faith and anoints Sulu the RJ of a late-night show.

Sulu becomes an instant rage with listeners even as her family life begins to fall apart. As her husband Ashok (Manav Kaul) is downsized at his job by a new boss and her son is suspended from school, she is blamed for all the travails by her father and sisters, and even persuaded to leave the ‘cheap’ RJ job.

How she holds her own against all odds comprises the climax.

The movie has several sequences which are genuinely side-splitting and heart-warming: the gym scene in which Sulu is asked to recite the opening lines of her show over the phone, her fun interactions with listeners, the prank call to the society’s vendor etc are all a barrel of laughs.

Vidya also excels at her various roles in the film, playing the doting mother, the dutiful wife and the vivacious RJ all with aplomb. By parts, she manages to charm, move and entertain, her enactment being heart-aching without being melodramatic, risible without being coarse.

Manav, as Sulu’s husband, delivers a first-rate performance. Neha Dhupia passes muster. Trupti Khamkar shines in the short role of a taxi driver. Abhishek Sharma as Sulu’s kid does a fine job. The music is passable though a couple of songs are superfluous.

The movie takes time to pick up steam and the pace is somewhat inconsistent. Even the climax is stretched and trifle desultory. It almost defeats the purpose of the movie. Suresh Triveni, the director, takes a simple story and weaves a largely engaging screenplay though some parts are plain bromide.

Overall, ‘Tumhari Sulu’ rides on Vidya Balan’s knockout performance and has a string of beaming moments to offer. Watch it for those.