The sewing machine is the saviour in Sharat Katariya's "Sui Dhaaga - Made in India". It saves the protagonist from a life devoid of dignity and infuses in him an entrepreneurial spirit that is at the heart of this story.
Katariya, whose eye for family dynamics is evidenced by his earlier film "Dum Laga Ke Haisha", brings the same keen observation to this film, and it is this that gives "Sui Dhaaga" its added texture.
Mauji (Varun Dhawan) belongs to a family of weavers, but the profession has driven them into penury. Disillusioned by the lack of opportunities, Mauji's father (Raghuvir Yadav) pushes his own children towards employment elsewhere.
Mauji works as a handyman for a sewing machine retailer, but is routinely mistreated and insulted by his bosses. On seeing him being strung on a leash like a dog as part of a joke, his otherwise docile wife Mamta (Anushka Sharma) says a life of dignity is preferable to what he has. Mauji takes her words to heart, and decides to put his skill with the sewing machine to use.
But starting and running a business is never easy, more so for those like Mamta and Mauji who do not have the privileged background nor the access needed to make it. Katariya details every bit of this struggle and sometimes overdoes it. A scene where Mauji and Mamta apply for a free sewing machine under a government scheme is over-written.
Indeed, some of the best moments in the film stem from glimpses of the family trying hard to make their dreams come true. Mauji’s father’s disdain at his attempts to start a business, his mother’s preoccupation with the costs of running a house and her dream of seeing her son secure a job are wonderfully etched.
Raghuvir Yadav and Yamini Das are pitch-perfect as Mauji’s parents. Das is especially endearing as the long-suffering mother and wife conditioned to put family before herself, sometimes to her detriment. But it is Dhawan and Sharma who walk away with the film.
Dhawan is wonderful as Mauji, casting his shiny Bollywood cape aside and making this rather grimy character his own. Sharma is a great foil to his spontaneous energy, bringing a quiet strength to Mamta, and getting the mannerisms and body language of a small-town woman right.
The film falters when it moves away from being an intimate portrait and takes to grandstanding to find a solution to Mamta and Mauji’s problems. The convoluted plot is a drawback, but much like a tapestry, the beauty here lies in the detail, in the small things. And in this respect, “Sui Dhaaga” is a winner.