#FeministMondays | Lessons From Sulu

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I watched 'Tumhari Sulu' over the weekend and was really impressed with it. For those who haven't watched it, this movie is the story of Sulochana or Sulu (Vidya Balan, in a role tailor-made for her), a middle-class housewife who lives with her doting husband Ashok (an endearing Manav Kaul) and her 11-year-old son Pranav. As a person with varied interests and hobbies, her education has suffered in the past. As a housewife, she dreams of being a working woman, but her lack of higher education doesn't allow her to get any white collar jobs. She's interested in everything around her and thinks of setting up multiple business as a 50-50 partner with her husband, even though none materializes. She takes part in every competition possible, be it a saree draping contest, a vegetable cutting contest, radio and TV contests or a lemon and spoon race.

When she wins a contest on Radio Wow run by Maria (Neha Dhupia, who looks stunning and is brilliant as the high-class but encouraging boss), she stumbles upon an audition to become an RJ. She gets the job as the RJ of a call-in night show where people call to talk about their troubles. Her husband though supportive at first, later begins to feel neglected and insecure. In spite of Sulu's twin sisters and father finding the show obscene, the show is a hit and Maria sets up a celebration. Soon, Ashok's work goes downhill and Sulu's highs begins to bother him and he feels that she is neglecting their son causing him to do unwanted things at school. Sulu takes everything on her stride and fights everyone who coax her to quit her job. She never succumbs to the situations around her and the creative spark continues to shine.

What struck me the most is the simplicity of the story. It clearly is a the story of a housewife who wants to do something for herself and her family. Nothing gets my goat like an ambition less woman, even if she is a housewife. Sulu is the exact opposite of it and every woman, a housewife or a working lady can get to learn so much from her. She's spunky, she's sexy, she's hardworking, she's ambitious, she's confident, what more can you ask for?

Here are a few things that every woman should learn from Sulu.

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~ Never be ashamed of yourself: Embrace what you are and find strengths within yourself. When Sulu gets the job at the radio station, the first thing she informs Maria is that she's flunked her twelfth. She doesn't say it out of weakness. She says it matter-of-factly indicating that she got a high paying job in spite of it. She doesn't care about her educational background, nor does Maria. What people point out as your Achilles heel, need not always be.

~ Be passionate about whatever you do: When Sulu is asked to cite her achievements, she goes on talking about all the contests that she has won. Be it a singing contest, a vegetable cutting contest or the lemon and spoon race, she is so enthusiastic about all of it. She doesn't look down upon it. What matters to her is the participation, not winning or losing.

~ Make optimism your strength: The tag line of the movie is #MainKarSaktiHai, translated to 'I can do it'. Sulu doesn't say no to anything. Every opportunity she gets, she gives it all. She knows she can do something and goes ahead with it. Her never say die attitude is what is the best takeaway from the movie.

~ Practise makes the woman perfect: When Sulu is given a couple of sensual lines as part of her audition, she practises them until she hears back from Maria. She writes it down, exercises her throat, calls the local grocery store (an awesomely hilarious scene) and seduces her husband in the sensual tone to get her lines right. This is even before she's got the job.

~ Follow up on your dreams: When Maria is unable to get back to Sulu on the job because of her other meetings, Sulu doesn't give up. She calls Maria relentlessly and texts her multiple times assuring her that she's the right person for the job. When Maria sits back to think about Sulu, she sees the fire in her and her passion for what she wants to do. Her multiple texts with 'Main Kar Sakti Hai', is what gets her the job.

~ When opportunity doesn't come knocking, create it: Sulu looks for an opportunity in everything around her. When she sees a fleet of cars, she talks about staring her own taxi service. When she wins a cooker at the Radio contest, she asks them if she can get an TV instead as she has bought the same cooker a couple of weeks ago. When they say no and hang-up, she calls back to say that she still needs the cooker as her sister's housewarming is coming up and this can be the perfect gift. When she sees the announcement for the RJ audition, she directly goes in and asks for a form. No hesitation, no fear. I loved this about her.

~ Never feel inferior to anyone: When her successful banker twin sisters mock her for ruining her life and being just a housewife, Sulu doesn't take it to heart. She listens and then lets go. When she joins a young Radio station with people all around dressed in stylish clothes and talking slang, she owns her sarees and plaid hair. She knows she's good at what she does, nothing else matters.

~ Worklife balance: In spite of working during the night, Sulu manages all the household work by herself. Yes, her husband does help her out, but she never ignores what she has to do. When she gets back home one day to find the husband and son asleep with all the used plates and utensils from dinner still on the table, she sets her bag down and clears it without complaining.

~ Multitask as and when you can: As a woman, we have to multitask to get our things done. On her first day at work, Sulu carries a bag of shelled peas to peel while talking to her first caller who is expecting erotic talk. The way she revolves the entire conversation around peas and handles him is quite something.

~ Winning is a bonus, not the sole goal: In a scene in the movie, Sulu says "I find excitement in everything. Winning and losing doesn't matter to me, I just like to be a part of everything." This speaks so much. In today's rat race where people only want to win, Sulu comes in like a breath of fresh air. While heading to your goal, you might as well as make the journey worthwhile.

~ Women can initiate sex too: Sulu is not afraid to get kinky or dress up for her husband to seduce him. As the saree clad housewife, offering sex to her husband is not a duty for her. She wants to enjoy the act and is not afraid to compliment him after it.

~ Have passions and interests: When Sulu's sisters talk about her bio-data, they say that it has six pages of hobbies listed. They might think of her as a jack of all trades and master of none, but Sulu does what she wants to anyway. Ambition is not only for the women who work in an office.

~ Never let the world knock you down: When her whole family goads her to quit her job, Sulu singlehandedly fights all of them. They call her job "cheap", and even threaten to take her son away from her, but Sulu promptly picks her bag and leaves for work in the same scene. This is what woman power is all about.

~ Woman for a woman: The way Maria stands up for Sulu and believes in her is what feminism should be about. Sulu's pick-up and drop cab also has a woman driver who encourages Sulu. The driver's story shows her as a strong independent woman too. The day every woman stands up for herself and for the women around her, we probably wouldn't need to use the term "feminism" anymore.

We all have a Sulu inside us. We need to embrace her and learn a lot from her. While feminism is all about equality, it is also about letting a woman be.

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This post is a part of the powerful series #FeministMondays on Naba's blog and you can be a part of it too. On the second Monday of every month, write an impactful post with the hashtag #FeministMondays and link it back to Naba's blog.

24 comments:

  1. This is my first read this morning and I am so happy that I picked this post, Soumya! I haven’t watched this movie yet, but I can resonate with Sulu. My interests in different activities have been cited as one of my drawbacks. And I have to remind them that multitalented is not a drawback. Loved the lessons you shared from the movie, Soumya. Thanks for sharing this post! 😀

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    1. You need to be proud of yourself for the interests you have, Vinitha. I have been mocked too for being actively involved in many things, but I turn a deaf ear towards them. As long as I'm good at what I do, nothing else matters.

      Thank you, Vinitha!

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  2. Thank u soumya ..u have helped me visualise the movie as if i had watched it. superb movie and super narration


    b

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    1. Hey B, thank you! Do watch the movie when you get a chance.

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  3. I don't think I can fully express how much I loved this post. But I couldn't agree more with everything you have written here. Yes, we must all indeed embrace our inner Sulu and fearlessly pursue our innermost desires.

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    1. Thank you, Shantala. I'm glad you enjoyed the movie and the post.

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  4. I have not yet watched it but now I think, I should.

    P.S - https://theenchantressweb.wordpress.com/2018/07/09/blogger-recognition-award/

    You have been nominated for Blogger Recognition Award :)

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    1. Do watch the movie.

      Thank you, Nikita.

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  5. I loved this movie. The tale it told and the cast. Vidya lived the character. I loved the pillow talk we heard. It was fun. Overall a wonderful heartwarming movie.

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    1. Oh yes, the dialogues were just delightful. This was such a well made movie.

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  6. I loved this movie too. I loved everything about it. The simplicity stood out- of Vidya Balan, the story, the situation... everything. ANd thats why the messages are so easy to pick on. A movie that stayed for long well after that last scene!

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    1. The messages are so subtle and true in one. A delightful movie indeed.

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  7. I too loved the film very much and could quite relate to Sulu and her eagerness to make a niche for herself, despite everything that comes in her way.
    A perfect idol to emulate!

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  8. I have watched only half of this movie and enjoyed it. Agree with you that we all have Sulu inside us, all we need is to recognize it and bring it out. There's so much to learn from Sulu, she is truly inspiring. Off to check the second part of this movie on Netflix now.

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    1. Watch the other half soon, too! It only gets better :)

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  9. Awwww you just made the movie so lovable for me. I wasn't so impressed with it when I saw it as I felt it was a bit OTT...

    But your writing has made me look at it in a new light.

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    1. Concept might have been a bit OTT, but the way it was handled was brilliant. Showed the middle-class housewife in such a new light!

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  10. Awwww you made this movie so so endearing for me with this review. Trust me I thought it was OTT when I had watched it.

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    1. Concept might have been a bit OTT, but the way it was handled was brilliant. Showed the middle-class housewife in such a new light!

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  11. Endearing movie and great lessons, Soumya.
    I agree with all your points. We must stand up and support each other.

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  12. There are so many things about this post that I love and about what you have expressed about the movie, the lessons from it rather.
    You know it is so easy for family members to tell women, especially married women, to give up on their dreams to take care of the family as if a woman's dream is disposable. The fact that any woman can hold on to it, fighting all odds and at the same time doing so much for the family, is something I admire. Though I hope one day, men too stop having the luxury of just doing their jobs not bothering about clearing plates from the dinner table. Or, that women stop having to clear the plates even after a hard day at work.
    Here's to women!

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    1. Yes Naba, why are women's dreams cut short when they get married? Women need to stand up for themselves and for one another. Here's to all the Sulu's out there.

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