In 'Sui Dhaaga' Varun Dhawan and Anushka Sharma lead from the front In Sharat Katariya's gentle celebration of self-reliance
Appalled by a scene of her husband’s public humiliation, Mamta (Anushka Sharma) prods the rather simple-minded Mauji (Varun Dhawan) to free himself from an abusive employer (a sewing machine showroom owner) and stand on his own feet. Almost immediately Mauji follows up on her encouragement to become a self-employed tailor.
Mamta might have spent most of her life serving her husband and in-laws, but she is the brain in this enterprise. Without actually instructing Mauji directly, she gives him broad hints, nudging him in a direction, and then willingly takes her place on the backseat of the cycle.
Writer-director Sharat Katariya’s film is quite simply the story of a young couple that find the impetus and self-motivation to break out and take risks.
Along the way, his mother’s (an adorable Yamini Das) medical treatment not only provides Mauji with a business opportunity, but also exposes him to the vile ways of established businesses and opportunists. In spite of his risk-averse retired father’s (Raghuvir Yadav) opposition to the new initiative, Mamta and Mauji take the hard lessons and skepticism in their stride and move further towards self-reliance.
There are some strong messages in Sui Dhaaga, told without leaning on the tested Bollywood supports of melodrama, bombastic dialogue and expendable characters.
As Mauji sets out on his path of self-sufficiency and independence—gently prodded on by his Mamta, we see his shadow on the ground being joined by that of his wife—matching steps with him. A woman empowered without anyone having to say so in as many words.
The other message is of optimism. For all the challenges he faces -- be it a domineering and abusive employer or an ailing mother or a career under threat – Mauji takes the knocks on the chin, with a positive ‘all is well’ attitude.
The third theme is of self-reliance and community. It’s not an easy journey, but as the couple takes a leap into entrepreneurship, pitfalls and all, they find support from within the community, including the grumpy father who finally acknowledges that his cautious way may not be the only way.
Dhawan has perfected the template for playing a simpleton. He brings a similar naiveté to Mauji, albeit endearingly. Sharma lifts the film with an understated, strong performance. Her role is well defined and she slips into Mamta’s synthetic sarees with ease, expertly interpreting her character and balancing Dhawan’s eagerness.
The climax is a tad contrived with a fashion show format that conjures up stylish phrases such as ‘slow fashion’ and ‘sustainable fashion’.
Anil Mehta’s cinematography, costumes by Darshan Jalan and Neelanchal Kumar Ghosh and Meenal Agarwal’s production design bring alive Mamta and Mauji’s intimate little world. Notice Dinesh Master’s subtle choreography too.
With the pitch-perfect supporting cast, including Yadav, Yamini Das and Namit Das (as Guddu, the opportunistic relative), Katariya sets a rhythm that seldom slackens. Sui Dhaaga is a well-meaning, simply woven, feel-good entertainer that delivers as much as it promises.