Sui Dhaaga: Anushka Sharma, Varun Dhawan's chemistry and earnest performances carry the film

Rohini Nair

Sep,28 2018 12:00:50 IST

“Sab badhiya hai.” That's the mantra that Mauji (Varun Dhawan) lives by. Be it his cantankerous father (Raghuvir Yadav) or the demands of his impoverished life, or his stagnant relationship with his wife Mamta (Anushka Sharma), or his irascible boss, Mauji deals with it all with a smile. The “sab badhiya hai” attitude only slips a little when he thinks of how his older brother — having married into a relatively well-off family — has become a “ghar jamai”.

The amiable attitude is still very much in place when an incident upends the delicate balance of his life: at the wedding of his employer's son, Mauji is asked to perform as a pet dog for the benefit of the guests. Mauji treats it as a matter of course, but it is when he sees Mama’s pained expression that his pride is pricked. Mamta asks him if putting up with such abnegation is worth it, and why he doesn't think of starting his own business — especially since Mauji is a dab hand with a sewing machine.

This is a slightly tricky proposition since Mauji’s grandfather used to have a flourishing handicrafts business. When the business goes bust, so do the family's fortunes.

Varun Dhawan and Anushka Sharma in a still from Sui Dhaaga

Varun Dhawan and Anushka Sharma in a still from Sui Dhaaga

After one too many insults from his employer's son, Mauji quits his job in high dudgeon. Meanwhile, his mother needs to undergo an angioplasty, and Mauji’s family worries about how they're going to get together the money for her treatment. As Mauji wonders how to find a way out of their troubles, Mamta gently 'guides’ him (or rather cleverly points him in the right direction) to setting up a tailoring stall. Armed with his sewing machine and his skill, Mauji decides to do just that.

Varun Dhawan infuses his Mauji with so much simplicity and sweetness, watching him on screen is a pleasure. You're the already rooting for him to succeed with his endeavour. As his helpmeet Mamta, Anushka Sharma is quiet and restrained, but indicates that she has a core of steel nonetheless. The whimsical background score imparts a sense of serendipity to the proceedings, and you're very invested in finding out where this story is heading.

Despite the straitened finances (and other travails) of its protagonists, Sui Dhaaga prefers to laugh along with them, rather than treating them as a sob story.

So Mauji’s mother complains that the number of pills she's taking is more than the quantity of dal she has with her meals; when doctors say that Mauji’s mother is losing blood in the operation theatre, a friend asks in all seriousness if he should bring along some “anaar ka juice”.

Meanwhile, his mother's health troubles present an unexpected opportunity: a nightdress Mauji designs and stitches for her hospital stay (with discreet panels for ease of access for the attending doctors and nurses) catches the eye of other patients and he gets orders to make the garment for several of them too. This good fortune too comes tinged with its own challenges, for Mauji must now procure a sewing machine of his own. (The one at home is taken away by the neighbour who owns it, when the possibility of profit rears its head.)

Varun and Anushka bring a subtle chemistry to their depiction of Mauji and Mamta. Beginning with the constrained communication of a couple burdened by the mundanities of their everyday lives, to discovering that they genuinely care for each other — it's such a pleasing evolution to watch. The abashed way in which Mauji gazes on this wife he barely knows but has grown to respect immensely, the near-fierce way in which the low-key Mamta watches out for her husband's best interests… this is a tender romance, blossoming amid the desperation of their circumstances.

A still from Sui Dhaaga. youtube

A still from Sui Dhaaga. youtube

So lovely is this relationship to watch that by the time Mauji and Mamta get possession of the much-coveted sewing machine, you — as the audience member — experience it as just as much of a triumph as the couple themselves.Triumphs, however, are few, while tribulations thick on the ground. Stumbling at times, steadfast at others, Mamta and Mauji navigate whatever life throws at them.

It helps that they have a vision: of self-dependency and entrepreneurship, of being able to reap the fruits of their labour. A textile giant’s fashion competition provides them a way to channelise their hopes and Mauji’s unique skills.

Director Sharat Katariya is masterful at depicting smalltown India on the big screen, as he showed us with Dum Laga Ke Haisha. In Sui Dhaaga too, these nuances are pitch-perfect, as are the family dynamics at play in Mamta and Mauji's journey.

For a movie that stays so true to reality throughout, a few moments towards the climax are the only time a very “filmi” note is struck. But in a wholly heartwarming tale, it's such a small misstep, it barely counts as one.

Sui Dhaaga does have a larger and more obvious message than the story of one couple of course: that of reviving Indian arts and crafts, of creating products that do their “Made In India” tag proud. That it manages to impart this message without veering into preachy territory is Sui Dhaaga’s strength.

On the other hand, it only lightly touches on the issues plaguing many of India's traditional weavers and embroiderers, preferring not to go into too much detail. In this particular aspect then, it does not offer too much insight.

Instead, Sui Dhaaga’s focus stays on its protagonists. Varun and Anushka are endearing as Mauji and Mamta, and you see so clearly in their performances (especially Dhawan’s), why they're considered among the finest performers of their generation. Varun Dhawan plays his simple protagonist with so much conviction that by the end of Sui Dhaaga, you too chime in to say: “Sab badhiya hai”.

This is a first impression review of Sui Dhaaga. Read Anna Vetticad's full movie review here

Watch the trailer for Sui Dhaaga: Made in India here:

Updated Date: Sep 28, 2018 16:51 PM