By Deepa Gahlot
If the world of haute couture pays lip service to Indian fabric traditions, it also helps keep some of the artisans alive—even if there is equal parts altruism and exploitation involved.
Sharat Katiriya (Dum Laga Ke Haisha), takes up some of these issues and weaves an earnest, if much too long and predictable film, Sui Dhaaga.
Mauji (Varun Dhawan), is like his name, a happy-go-lucky chap, from a family of weavers who have had to give up their failing trade and move to the city to do menial jobs. His father (Raghubir Yadav) has retired as a peon, and hopes his older son with his low-level job will look after the family; the younger son has left to set up home with his well-off wife. When Mauji’s silent, dutiful wife Mamta (Anushka Sharma) sees him being humiliated by his boss, she goads him into quitting the job and using his tailoring skills to do something on his own.
This premise was enough for a story of struggle and survival, but Katariya must up the obstacles; so the mother has a heart-attack and the bills are back-breaking; the quest for a sewing machine needs an obstacle race of its own; a supposed benefactor (Namit Das) turns out to be a crook. As each hurdle is elongated and exacerbated, the need for some brutal trimming is felt, more so, because the film moves towards an expected feel-good ending.
Still, a film about lower middle-class India, living in ramshackle homes, wearing ordinary clothes, coming from the Yash Raj Films banner, means a lot. It also follows that there is a budget for A-list stars like Varun Dhawan and Anushka Sharma to cheerfully slum it, as there is for realistic production design.
If Mauji (and mohalla) had not challenged the snooty fashion establishment, but just become Delhi’s ‘maxi’ king, the film would have been satisfying enough. As it turns out, Sui Dhaaga is so large-hearted and so earnest, it could be supported like a pet cause.
Director: Sharat Katariya
Cast: Varun Dhawan, Anushka Sharma, Raghubir Yadav, Namit Das and others
Deepa Gahlot is one of India’s seniormost and best known entertainment journalists. A National Awardwinning film critic, Deepa has watched more movies and theatre than most people in the country. An author of several books on film and theatre, she has had an extremely successful run as head of theatre and film at the National Centre for Performing Arts, Mumbai, during which she helped nurture several original productions. For Xyngr, Deepa Gahlot reviews theatre and cinema.