Hospitals are often the setting for pressure cooker situations – tensions build up and everyone blows off steam in a heated argument. In Sui Dhaaga: Made in India, writer-director Sharat Katariya infuses charm and humor in a ‘hospital scene’. The protagonist Mauji (Varun Dhawan) squabbles with his father and brother over money and his job prospects, while his mother, recovering from a heart attack, watches helplessly from her hospital bed. Even as this drama unfolds in the foreground, a nurse, until now practically invisible tending to another patient in a far out corner, explodes unexpectedly: “Visiting hours khatam hua. Bahar jaake bahes karo!” The three men, all shamefaced, troop out meekly.
It’s moments like these that elevate this typical underdog story, from the ordinary. But alas, Katariya can’t save it from sinking into predictability. From the beginning you know where this narrative is going. Mauji and his family live on the outskirts of the city. Mauji is initially content following in the footsteps of his father (Raghuvir Yadav), trading entrepreneurship for the security of a stable job. But it’s his wife Mamta (Anushka Sharma) who encourages him to aim higher – towards the dignity of his own labor, and to turn his talent for tailoring into a self-run enterprise.
The couple struggles long and hard to become financially independent, and an attractive part of Sui Dhaaga is the love story that unfolds between them during this arduous journey. The problem is when this sweet story turns into a melodramatic mess. Where Katariya’s previous film Dum Laga Ke Haisha took hefty risks, Sui Dhaaga sticks to the safety of the tried and tested, including the oldest cliche in the book – namely the big business that steals the small trader’s creations. But cliches and stereotypes are known to work when applied with some flair. Too bad none of that inventiveness and flair is visible in the film’s climax, featuring a ‘cringey’ fashion show.
To some degree Sui Dhaaga redeems itself in its authentic performances from an ensemble committed to the world they are projecting. Raghuvir Yadav is terrific as Mauji’s disgruntled father. He’s the dad permanently dissatisfied with his son – complaining bitterly at every opportunity and fretting about his job. Mauji’s mother, played by Yamini Das, is a special find. In one of the film’s best scenes she collapses to the ground, yet breathlessly worries about the water shortage and the many household chores that need attention. To his credit, Katariya pulls out chuckle-worthy instances in day-to-day scenarios. The supporting cast is also bang-on, like Mauji’s wannabe friend and neighbor Yogesh who is never without his sunglasses, even when he’s brushing his teeth.
Yet the film rests largely on the shoulders of its leads. Anushka Sharma delivers in spades – her character Mamta has an inner steel and the actress brings quiet dignity to her part. Even in the film’s more tiring portions, you buy into it because of her simply solid performance. Varun Dhawan is earnest and tries hard, bringing an endearing likeability to Mauji, but he’s less surefooted in the more intense scenes.
I’m going with two-and-a-half out of five for Sui Dhaaga: Made in India. This could have been a neatly-stitched up narrative with its well-meaning message about the spirit of entrepreneurship, but sadly it unravels in its troubling second half.
Rating: 2.5 / 5