The movie began. Would it be about pen pals? Love affair? Scene after scene passed by – but it didn’t feel like a movie at all, forget about the plot.
The lead actress, the supporting actors, their setting, and props – nothing looked or felt as if it was a movie. Probably for two reasons: either I had been too conditioned about what a movie should be – perhaps I expected superheroes and sirens frolicking in fantasy land. Or, and more seriously, perhaps the movie was about something so common that it didn’t come to my notice as movie stuff.
Yes, that is what Tumhari Sulu is about: an everyday story of the woman next door, whom we meet so often, whom we mock so often, who we are so much so, that we have to be sequestered into a movie hall to spare two thoughts about.
Had I not met such Sulus myself, I would have hated the movie. Instead, I watched on. I saw the woman who waltzes through her daily mundane tasks so that others can do what they can, the woman who suspects that she *can do* [it] but has had no chance to discover quite what, the autistic education system that can sense only the academic scores, collective mediocrity, movie actors as benchmarks of performance, sprouts of warmth and belonging, striving to survive in a relationship without sunshine, the pole-vaults of assertion indenting the lows of question-less submission and compliance.
Worst of all, a toxic family.
Writers, poets, and women themselves have revealed enough about the dark realms of the in-laws. But, who talks about the refusals, denials, and put-downs that come from one’s own parents and elder siblings? Some parents sound legitimate, but they actually discriminate against one child – because one (usually the elder) is bright in a regular way, but the other (usually younger) is ‘differently able’.
Experiences like that are so historically painful that they hurt without one realizing where the pain comes from.
The movie dramatizes the story by handing Sulu a job when her husband’s job is in jeopardy, while she is asked to do what is somewhat questionable. But what about other Sulus who are stopped, questioned, criticized, assaulted, branded and stereotyped, ostracized, and punished, just because they are trying to discover who they can be? Why is their struggle laughable just because they could not discover it earlier in school? Why is their discovery any lesser because it does not involve marks in schools?
Let’ talk about it.
Tumhari Sulu is not a movie, this is a slice of life from a large percentage of women you and I meet every day – and God forbid, live with.