Based on the Make In India campaign launched by our government in 2014, Sui Dhaaga – Made In India salutes the spirit of middle-class pride and self-reliance. Mauji (Varun Dhawan), a proficient tailor, lives in Chanderi, Madhya Pradesh, with his family. He works at a cloth store, but he dreams of owning his own garment business. His simplicity and winning nature are taken for granted by most and it’s his newly-married wife Mamta (Anushka Sharma), who encourages him to chase the rainbow.
Self-reliance is a great thing. Taking pride in everything that India does well is also a very good thing. However, to give an unsuspecting audience a drab run of everyday issues faced by the lower middle-class in the heartland of India is not necessarily entertainment. So, actually, the marketing pitch of Sui Dhaaga is wrong. If you sold this to us as a find-your-feet campaign, it works. However, to say it will entertain along with enlighten is rubbish.
You have a National-Award winning talent (Dum Laga Ke Haisha) at hand. You have two superstars (Varun and Anushka), who want to appease their conscience by doing middle-of-the-road cinema. So, you find a script on how, despite all odds — lack of water, sanitation, cheats and challenges — India still manages to write her own story of victory. You use this backdrop and pepper it with the small-town dream of making it “on your own”.
Next, you intrinsically weave all this into the mundane existence of live-wire Mauji and his lustreless wife Mamta. Frankly, this is clever but till intermission point, the result is plain boring. Babuji (Raghubir Yadav in superlative form) and Amma, with her imaginary ills keep taking off on their ‘black sheep’ son Mauji without provocation. To make matters worse, Mamta prefers to make chappatis rather than consummate her marriage. So there isn’t even a whiff of romance. Just imagine having two mainstream actors and not even giving them some mastiwala magical moments.
The script that attempts to expose the ills of an impoverished life in India’s heartland is routine. The problems have been seen by us in countless films previously and in Government documentaries. While one must say that the dialogue is witty and Varun Dhawan is outstanding, everything else has the “been-there-seen-that” déjà vu quality.
Also, the all-trusting naivete shown by Varun and Anushka, who play small-town people, is not fully convincing. Pronouncing a couple of words with a particular Hindi accent and looking wide-eyed doesn’t add up. Yet, Varun manages to be this spunky tiger who is determined to stand out amidst the sheep. His incandescence helps blind out some of his inadequacies. Anushka’s simplicity shines through but her role has no depth.
The script is immature and loose. There are no surprises in the plot. That Mamta and Mauji will suffer all ills and emerge victorious on the right platform is a foregone conclusion. So, why even make this two-hour long story to tell us what could have been said in a 20-minute public service commission film?
The thing about films like Sui Dhaaga, Padman, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha and Batti Gul Meter Chalu is that mainstream actors suddenly feel the need to awaken India. And they set off in the direction of the big daddy who will back their dreams. Whether India becomes self-reliant or not, we have no clue. But yes, the actors have taken their shot at posterity. One definitely applauds their effort, but cinema’s thumb rule is that you need to entertain.
(As reported in media)