Opening this week

‘Tumhari Sulu’ review: Vidya Balan is a knockout as a housewife who finds her voice

Suresh Triveni’s heartfelt chronicle of a housewife’s transformation into a radio jockey balances the laughs with the tears.

Vidya Balan has a distinctive laugh that starts somewhere deep in her belly and bubbles its way upwards to her throat before bursting out and filling the room. Her voice has a rich timbre that presents immense possibilities. In Lage Raho Munnabhai (2006), Balan played a radio jockey, but apart from stretching out the vowels in her daily “Good Morning” greeting, the role required her to do little else.

Advertising filmmaker Suresh Triveni’s sparkling directorial debut Tumhari Sulu finally puts Balan’s textured voice and uninhibited chortle to proper use. Balan plays a housewife who hosts a late-night radio show in Tumhari Sulu. The voice becomes richer and sexier, and the laughs are plentiful as Balan’s Sulochana has a life-altering adventure (until reality catches up with her).

It starts with a malfunctioning television set. Ashok (Manav Kaul) cannot get customer service to repair the equipment. His wife Sulochana is a collector of trivial accomplishments – she is a lime-and-spoon race expert and a winner of consumer goods contests. Sulochana has had an incomplete education and is considered the family dunce but she is bursting with can-do spirit. She reckons that she can exchange the pressure cooker she has won on a radio show for a television set. Sulochana makes her way from her home in the distant Mumbai suburb Virar to a world vastly different – the swanky radio statio, where she gets more than she bargained for.

Encouraged by a vacancy for a late-night radio spot, Sulochana auditions for the job, and persuades the station boss Maria (Neha Dhupia) that she has the ability to field calls from lonely hearts after sundown.

Play
Tumhari Sulu (2017).

Sulochana’s ascent coincides with Ashok’s increasingly shaky position at the textile manufacturing company where he has been slaving for years and their son Pranav’s troubles at school. Director Triveni’s soft feminist fable seeks its resolution within the comforting confines of the family, but it is mindful of the price women pay for stepping out of their domestic cocoons.

The movie is neatly poised between dreams (up until the interval) and wakefulness (the post-interval section). Sulochana’s newfound freedom fundamentally alters her equation with Ashok. A less sunny-tempered movie would have made more of their tensions and acknowledged that the cuts and tears in the marital fabric cannot be mended so easily. But Sulochana’s infectious optimism drives the story towards a resolution that ensures that everybody goes home with a big smile and a warm feeling.

In some ways, Tumhari Sulu plays out like a feelgood tribute to Satyajit Ray’s Mahanagar (1963), in which housewife Arti (played by Madhabi Mukherjee) becomes a saleswoman to boost her family’s meagre income. Arti’s newly minted independence most deeply affects her husband (Anil Chatterjee), and Ray ensures that the couple’s decision to face their challenges together can be regarded either as a joint victory or a pragmatic compromise.

Although Triveni opts for a more affirming option, his movie is attuned to the sensitivities of the challenges faced by working women. The film is packed with perfectly pitched characters, which include Neha Dhupia’s Maria and Sulochana’s cynical producer Pankaj (Vijay Maurya). Ashok too is much more than a foil to Sulochana, with his tattered ego and doubts over his suddenly successful wife getting equal play. Manav Kaul’s beautifully poised performance ensures that Ashok emerges as a full-blown character in a movie dedicated to its female lead. Kaul doesn’t seek to steal any scenes from Balan, but co-exists with her in keeping with the overall theme that it takes two hands for applause (and a marriage) to be meaningful.

Play
Ban Ja Rani, Tumhari Sulu (2017).

The movie derives its strength from its unhurried narrative (it clocks in at 140 minutes, some of which are disposable) and rich observations of middle-class suburban existence. Life is moulded into a movie plot, filled with the clutter of domesticity, everyday humour (the screenplay is by Triveni, with additional dialogue by Maurya) and hilarious tributes to 1980s film music.

Balan’s imitation of SP Balasubrahmanyam’s accent in the Batata Wada song from the 1987 movie Hifazat proves her mimicry skills. The movie itself is a tribute to her ability to burrow deep under the skin of her character. Balan delivers a career-best performance in Tumhari Sulu, moving from eternal optimist to bruised realist without missing a beat. Triveni’s respect for his heroine’s abilities results in several leisurely sequences of comedy and poignance, including a moving moment of admission that her ambition has disturbed the domestic peace. Balan delivers the belly-shaking laughs and heart-wringing tears with equal deftness. Sulu has her listeners at hello, but Balan scores from the moment she enters the frame all the way to the final close-up, where her face fills the screen and illuminates it.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Not just for experts: How videography is poised for a disruption

Digital solutions are making sure it’s easier than ever to express your creativity in moving images.

Where was the last time you saw art? Chances are on a screen, either on your phone or your computer. Stunning photography and intricate doodles are a frequent occurrence in the social feeds of many. That’s the defining feature of art in the 21st century - it fits in your pocket, pretty much everyone’s pocket. It is no more dictated by just a few elite players - renowned artists, museum curators, art critics, art fair promoters and powerful gallery owners. The digital age is spawning creators who choose to be defined by their creativity more than their skills. The negligible incubation time of digital art has enabled experimentation at staggering levels. Just a few minutes of browsing on the online art community, DeviantArt, is enough to gauge the scope of what digital art can achieve.

Sure enough, in the 21st century, entire creative industries are getting democratised like never before. Take photography, for example. Digital photography enabled everyone to capture a memory, and then convert it into personalised artwork with a plethora of editing options. Apps like Instagram reduced the learning curve even further with its set of filters that could lend character to even unremarkable snaps. Prisma further helped to make photos look like paintings, shaving off several more steps in the editing process. Now, yet another industry is showing similar signs of disruption – videography.

Once burdened by unreliable film, bulky cameras and prohibitive production costs, videography is now accessible to anyone with a smartphone and a decent Internet bandwidth. A lay person casually using social media today has so many video types and platforms to choose from - looping Vine videos, staccato Musical.lys, GIFs, Instagram stories, YouTube channels and many more. Videos are indeed fast emerging as the next front of expression online, and so are the digital solutions to support video creation.

One such example is Vizmato, an app which enables anyone with a smartphone to create professional-looking videos minus the learning curve required to master heavy, desktop software. It makes it easy to shoot 720p or 1080p HD videos with a choice of more than 40 visual effects. This fuss- free app is essentially like three apps built into one - a camcorder with live effects, a feature-rich video editor and a video sharing platform.

With Vizmato, the creative process starts at the shooting stage itself as it enables live application of themes and effects. Choose from hip hop, noir, haunted, vintage and many more.

The variety of filters available on Vizmato
The variety of filters available on Vizmato

Or you can simply choose to unleash your creativity at the editing stage; the possibilities are endless. Vizmato simplifies the core editing process by making it easier to apply cuts and join and reverse clips so your video can flow exactly the way you envisioned. Once the video is edited, you can use a variety of interesting effects to give your video that extra edge.

The RGB split, Inset and Fluidic effects.
The RGB split, Inset and Fluidic effects.

You can even choose music and sound effects to go with your clip; there’s nothing like applause at the right moment, or a laugh track at the crack of the worst joke.

Or just annotated GIFs customised for each moment.

Vizmato is the latest offering from Global Delight, which builds cross-platform audio, video and photography applications. It is the Indian developer that created award-winning iPhone apps such as Camera Plus, Camera Plus Pro and the Boom series. Vizmato is an upgrade of its hugely popular app Game Your Video, one of the winners of the Macworld Best of Show 2012. The overhauled Vizmato, in essence, brings the Instagram functionality to videos. With instant themes, filters and effects at your disposal, you can feel like the director of a sci-fi film, horror movie or a romance drama, all within a single video clip. It even provides an in-built video-sharing platform, Popular, to which you can upload your creations and gain visibility and feedback.

Play

So, whether you’re into making the most interesting Vines or shooting your take on Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’, experience for yourself how Vizmato has made video creation addictively simple. Android users can download the app here and iOS users will have their version in January.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Vizmato and not by the Scroll editorial team.