Tumhari Sulu Review (No SPOILERS): Vidya Balan Makes Us Fall in Love With Her Again

What a nice movie!  Good people working together to figure out how to make their lives better.  Well, how to make Vidya Balan’s life better, because she is the one who counts.

There isn’t really a lot to this film.  There are some conflicts towards the end that make me go “wait, what?” because there really was no reason for them.  In general there isn’t much of a “plot”.  It’s more just a central idea, “what would Vidya Balan be like as a housewife and how could we improve her life?” that has some slight variations over the course of 2 hours, and then it sort of stumbles to a conclusion.

But it is all so pleasant, I don’t really mind!  Vidya is delightful, of course.  And it is wonderful seeing her interact with other strong female character/actors like Neha Dhupia.  It’s also wonderful seeing her interact with a male lead who so clearly loves her just as she is.  Loves her for her silliness and her strength and her softness.  Manav Kaul plays her husband, I haven’t seen him in anything before this, but he has a very respectable career.  Not just in acting, but as a director, play write, etc. etc.  I guess what I am saying is that he doesn’t necessarily have to be a “hero” or the “lead”, it seems as though his interests are bigger than that.  He does a phenomenal job in this film playing a role that is not the lead.  But he doesn’t take the easy way out because of that, and he doesn’t try to steal scenes from Vidya, he does the best he possibly can without competing.

You know who he reminds me of?  Kunchacko Boban!  In his new phase, as the older supportive partner to a woman character.  I would love to see Manav Kaul take on Kunchacko’s role in Ramante Edanthottan or How Old Are You?

The rest of the cast was good, but didn’t really make an impression.  Which is part of how small this movie is.  It’s the story of Vidya and Manav, with some guest appearances by Neha Dhupia.  And besides that, there are a few other characters here and there, but they don’t get their own plots, and they don’t necessarily affect Vidya and Manav’s story either.

This is part of the one qualified downside to the film, it doesn’t feel very “Hindi”.  The songs are barely there, their story doesn’t have as many twists and turns and blind alleys as Hindi films usually do, and the bench of characters is smaller since there is less for them to do.  It’s a slight movie, not the kind of rich filling film I am used to.

Although it’s not totally divorced from the Hindi film tradition.  It reminds me of Hrishikesh Mukherjee films, light touch and small stories.  It’s not quite the overly witty relationship dramedy of something like Kapoor & Sons which was just completely other.

(this kind of film.  Also, as always, GARAM-DHARAM!!!!  Driver’s uniform, very VERY good look on him)

Mostly though it is all about Vidya.  There are several moments which, with a different actress, would have made me lose interest, start to dislike our central character.  But with Vidya, she is uniformly charming and I am completely involved in her character at all times.

And thank goodness she was given this chance to show what she could do!  I just put up a post about the “Marriage” phase of an actress’ career, and this is the best possible version of it.  Both for the actress and for the film industry as a whole.  Vidya gets to play an interesting character in a film built entirely around herself.  But a small film and a small character and a small story.  If this were a big budget, if she were still the top heroine she appeared to be after Dirty Picture, it would never have been as good, it would have been watered down and spiced up and end up being much less memorable.

And less profitable!  This movie, I am guessing, is going to do good solid business.  Exactly the kind of business it should do.  Not just as a film with a heroine lead, but as a film with the production team it has.  T-Series is still figuring out the whole film production thing, leaning small instead of big, building their way up with a series of small solid hits instead of trying to do too much too soon.

And it is exactly the kind of film that “Ellipses” (still hate that name) should be making.  I gave a hard time to KriArj in my news post about Padman for jumping in and taking an idea from Trinkle Khanna, being the middleman when she really didn’t need one.  But this isn’t exactly that situation.  This isn’t someone else having the idea, pulling together the production, and then a start-up studio sweeping in to take control.  Ellipses is the one who found the idea and supported it and all that, and then brought in T-Series.

And good for them!  For everyone involved!  For Ellipses supporting this small idea, knowing it is the kind of idea that needs help to be made correctly and support to be brought to the right people, and T-Series putting up the money for it, knowing it would be the kind of small success they need to keep building.

I hope this is a small success.  Not a big success.  A big success, that can just backfire on everyone.  The Dirty Picture, suddenly it made Vidya appear as the top heroine.  But there aren’t top heroine roles for her, she shouldn’t be Shahrukh’s love interest, or Salman’s latest damsel in distress, or Aamir’s latest social justice project.  She should be her own thing, her own interesting quirky person in her own movies.  I want this movie to be made over and over again, just as it is.  Small, Vidya-focused, with a bunch of other actors who are more interested in supporting the film than in becoming famous.

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13 thoughts on “Tumhari Sulu Review (No SPOILERS): Vidya Balan Makes Us Fall in Love With Her Again

  1. Oh, is this an Ellipsis production? I remember that we discussed them when they first announced their production house and then there wasn’t any news about them. I guess this is their first movie.

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    • I enjoyed it in the theater, but then I also went to the matinee and only paid $5 which might have been part of it. Definitely I don’t want to go back and see it, but I am looking forward to having it on in the background at home, not really paying attention but just tuning in and out moment by moment.

      On Mon, Nov 20, 2017 at 4:50 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Well my ticket price was roughly the same amount(if i calculated correctly), but i felt that this was not a big screen kinda movie. The movies i prefer watching in the theatre are the big commercial movies with colourful songs and dances. The moment0 I saw Amazon Prime Video as the streaming partner, i felt that i would be able to watch it for free at home in a month.

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        • I enjoyed seeing it in the theater, but it wasn’t necessarily a movie that needed the big screen, or a big crowd, to make it enjoyable. Mubarakan, on the other hand, or Golmaal Again, those were much worse movies as a whole, but way more fun in the theater.

          On Tue, Nov 21, 2017 at 7:32 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. Pingback: Tumhari Sulu Review (SPOILERS): The Value of Emotional Labor | dontcallitbollywood

  3. After having read your review here, I get the feeling that it is more like a theatre play than a movie using big spaces and sceneries and stuff like that.
    As for Ellipsis, I think that Atul is a very skilled visual artist with a certain focus on who goes well with what.

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    • Hmm. It actually did a good job of feeling “filmic”. Most of the scenes were in the family apartment, partly because I am sure they didn’t have much money for sets, but also because that is Vidya’s life, it’s all trapped within the home. But they go out on weekends, it opens at the school fair, and so on. And like I mention, there are these wonderful shots where it pulls back to show the whole building complex and just their one little lit window in the middle.

      On Tue, Nov 21, 2017 at 12:13 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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