This movie is a pastiche of good performances, nicely written individual scenes and some funny and sad moments. It never bores or offends you, and so you watch it with indulgence and good will. The plot in the film is driven by a simple story of a housewife wanting to be a radio jockey. Once she gets her break, she turns out to be a great RJ, but then finds that job and home are difficult to manage at the same time. So what’s new, pussycat?
Vidya Balan is beautifully cast as Sulu, simply because she is the only contemporary actress in Hindi cinema who can wear a Sari without looking like a woman draped in a bed sheet. Though relatively young, Balan is also the only actress who can look naturally retro, and takes you back, particularly in ’Tumhari Sulu’, to the idea of Indian femininity in the 1970s, both in feature films and advertisements. Her look, mannerisms and voice are perfect for the seductive radio hostess of a show called ’Tumhari Sulu’ that she lands the job for. Her introductory word is “Hello”, in a variated throaty tone that turns on both men and women.
Certainly, her lady boss, the manager of the FM Radio Station, Maria (Neha Dhupia), is hooked. It is a terrific juxtaposition of women, with the westernised Maria, in low cut tops on a great build, and the petite and ethnic Sulu doing her thing. Nor would it be too far fetched to suggest that some erotic vibes occasionally pass between the ladies, particularly in the dance numbers after hours at the office (it is clearly a happening FM station in Mumbai that rocks, on and off the air).
By comparison, the man/woman thing is a bit dull, even though Sulu’s husband, Ashok, is played by an outstanding actor, Manav Kaul. In the role he is given though, he finds himself trapped between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand he knows that his happy marriage will continue only if he gives Sulu as long a leash as she wants to discover herself as a radio artist. On the other hand, he has his own depressing dead end job to deal with. He also has to tolerate Sulu’s nagging family telling him to put his foot down as a man, and to command his wife to focus on home and child. Unfortunately, his character comes though as frail, and so Sulu’s sexuality in this relationship, though greatly emphasised, does not appear as genuinely erotic as it does at the radio station.
The other observation on ‘Tumhari Sulu’ is that the graph of the script is a flatliner. There are really no peaks or troughs, and so we jog along, as on a beach, watching the waves and enjoying the scenery, without being asked to invest ourselves in the characters, emotionally or mentally. If that is the mood that suits your frame of mind, ‘Tumhari Sulu’ could be a good watch.