Director: Suresh Triveni
Translation: Yours Sulu
What is enjoyable about this film is what it doesn't try to do. There is
no explosive drama, no slapstick comedy, no action heroes, no grand musical
numbers - and yet it won a bunch of awards. Bollywood is changing. This is
a simple, unambitious comedy-drama about a small middle class family doing
their best to get by in the massive city of Mumbai where their story will
go by unnoticed by nearly everyone. Just like most of our lives. Some good
moments, some bad but mainly just going about the business of doing your
job, loving your kids, taking care of your family the best you can and always
hoping for the best. A small story but for the people involved it is everything.
Sulu (Vidya Balan) and her husband Ashok (Manav Kaul) are strictly middle
class - he has a job that brings in enough money to live decently but by
no means extravagantly - where a broken TV causes friction because they want
it replaced - Sulu is old fashioned in her saris, her cooking and her devotion
to her son and husband. But she wants something more. What it is isn't clear
- but something that will allow her to be more than just a wife and mother.
All sorts of ideas constantly come to her - the latest being a taxi driver
- but duties and reality always knock them down.
Then through a series of slightly farfetched events she is offered a job
as a talk show host on a late night radio show. Her parents and sisters laugh
at her and tell her it is idiotic and her initially supportive husband slowly
gives way to doubts and resentments while at the same time he sees his job
being assaulted by a new jerk boss who is taking his manhood away. And her
show is a hit with the lonely as she talks to them late into the night making
them laugh and think and have a few minutes of connecting to someone.
And that is basically it - how it is all resolved. The film is real life
in which the conversations and humor and anger spring naturally. It is really
carried by the very fine acting of the two leads and excellent support from
Neha Dhupia as the radio station manager. Vidya is a fine actress and has
often taken on roles that are far from glamorous and is seemingly comfortable
being slightly overweight in an industry where most of the actresses are
sleek like racing cars. She deservedly won the Filmfare award as best actress.
This the debut of director/writer Suresh Triveni and is another sign that
a new generation of directors are changing the direction of Bollywood - or
I should say not so much changing as expanding the sorts of films they have
because there are still plenty of old fashioned films being made. There is
an assortment of songs but most of them play unobtrusively over scenes of