There are films that wow us with their layers & complexities, or captivate us with their gritty reality & unpredictability. And there are other kind of films that still wow us with their simplistic endearing qualities, or captivate us with their emotional but inspiring cinematic moments. They tell us stories we know and have seen before – but that honestly does not matter because they shine through the vulnerability and honesty of simple middle class dreams we root for; dreams we see patching up through the known twists and turns, dreams that weave seamlessly into vibrant colors of happiness, honor, and heroism.
Sui Dhaaga is that kind of film. In spite of all its predictability and filmy texture, its able to arouse smiles, choking moments and even goosebumps because it stays grounded most of the times, and believes in stitching handcrafted moments of joy rather than templatized larger than life preachy messages, which is usually the easiest trope for films like this. And hence, it becomes far more enjoyable than the Akshay Kumar world of propaganda cinema. It inspires, but it does not sermonize. It wants you to believe and chase your dreams, but it does not revolutionize. It talks about incidental entrepreneurship at the grass root level with the support of not-so-perfect families and not-so-friendly neighborhoods. It puts emphasis on risky but honorably satisfying journeys of skill based self sufficiency rather than trading dignity and self respect in compulsive mundane jobs. It pushes you to never give up on your dreams, how much ever impossible they sound.
And yet none of this flight of fantasy would have sold or would have made interesting cinema had it not built itself through grounded human stories of love, respect, compassion, frustration and disappointments of common, ordinary people. The film thrives on the simple and endearing moments it creates in the most believable but dysfunctional world of Mamta, Mauji, and his parents. The focus is on their relatable, everyday problems where the mother of the home is more worried about the mundane but critical household chores even when she has had a cardiac arrest, or when the father and son of this household fight over exchanging petty sheets of newspaper. Our attention is captured by the tiny moments of simplistic happiness, mutual respect and trust that gradually builds up between the lead couple who otherwise don’t even get time to talk privately or share a meal together when we first meet them in their setup of traditionalist arranged marriages. These are believable flesh and blood characters who organically make us part of their journeys, whether they get emotionally assaulted in marriages, or tricked by friends or extended families, robbed of their ideas by opportunists, or eventually garner all the courage to challenge the world. It is the honesty of these characters that wins us over, so even when there is some occasional cinematic melodrama patched into something as simple as procuring a sewing machine, or a predictably convenient success story achieved far too easily, we are bought over by the moments of emotional triumph of these lovable characters outweighing the manipulations of formulaic storytelling.
I am glad that writer director Sharat Katariya focuses more on crafting characters and stringing moments, because there is only so much he could have done with a story like this. The most he should be applauded about is getting the casting of his primary characters spot on. Raghubir Yadav and Yamini Das are brilliant as Mauji’s parents, and are extremely important threads of strength in the overall fabric of the film. Their timing and natural reactions are impeccable and hard to beat. Kudos then to the two leads who are both cast out of their usual comfort zone here, but neither of them appear out of depth in any single frame in front of such fine actors. Varun Dhawan is brilliant as the naive simpleton who finds his wings of confidence gradually coming out of his resigned and confined world. He gets his gait, appearance, body language, hold on the language and expressions perfect to display the complete range of emotions expected out of Mauji, and doesn’t leave his character for any moment. Mauji is certainly another feather to Varun’s cap after Dan, and he lives it to the tee with his simplistic charm. Anushka Sharma and her Mamta is more textured than Mauji, who is as vulnerable as she is strong, who is as determined as she is docile, who is as respectful as she is independent, and Anushka hits off a sixer to hit it out of the park! She is especially terrific in scenes where she needs to be resolute but not arrogant in delicate family conversations. Her smiles are radiant, and memes not withstanding her tears don’t appear forced anywhere. Another brave performance after Pari and in a completely different space – you go girl! Very happy to see Anushka’s deserving name ahead of Varun in the casting credits, its important to subtly convey these messages in such stories about trust and partnership. The rest of the cast does tend to get dramatic and over pitched, but thankfully is not given enough screen time to pull down the film.
Thanks to the smart editing by CharuShree Roy that the film does not feel stretched in spite of its predictability and dramatic moments. Anil Mehta‘s cinematography has to be called out here which remains intentionally muted and earthy for the most part helping to establish the mood of the film and also to highlight the vibrance of dyed fabric, colorful threads, aesthetic designs and soaring dreams only when needed. A long single shot opening scene introducing the characters with some beautifully written dialogs particularly stands out and beautifully sets up the tone of the film. Andrea Guerra‘s background score is a special highlight of the film which is very international in feel but seamlessly blends in. And Anu Malik (along with lovely lyrics by Varun Grover) composes one of the most melodious soundtracks of the year with this film. While Chaav Laaga and Tu hi Aham is fine music to ears on their own, it is Khatar Patar and especially the title track that are visually captivating because of their brilliant situational use in the film. Its impossible not to feel goosebumpish when Sui Dhaaga title track especially plays out when it does and we see the creative aesthetics of a bunch of dreamers finding their legs down a ramp! A brilliant cinematic moment there!
While a lot has been criticized about Sui Dhaaga’s trailer and how it practically shows the entire film in a nutshell, it actually works beautifully in favor of this otherwise predictable film. It sets expectations beforehand of a sweet but charming story of commoners who are not here to promise any adventurous twists or adrenaline rushes. And the film delivers exactly that. It goes back to basics. It stitches you to its simplicity. It seamlessly patches up sentiments and emotions. And it weaves a fairy-tale world of dreams and aspirations where in spite of its imperfections and styling issues, you leave the theatre with a smile believing #SabBadhiyaHai