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A role of unabashed laughter for the first time in her career: Vidya as Sulu

By Armin S. Monday, Nov 13, 2017 09:55: AM

The best part of doing an interview with Vidya is her ability to make me start laughing without telling me a joke. Her contagious laughter, superb personality (which everyone she works with attests to), and her zest for life makes her the perfect "Sulu". Here's our conversation with "Tumhari" Sulu. 


It’s so nice to see a feel-good film with a female lead. I understand you read the script and said that it had been one of the best scripts you had read in a very long time.

Yeah, you know, because it is a very well-written script. The director is also the writer of the film. He narrated the script to me and it just came alive in front of my eyes. I just felt like that this was the story I want to tell next. It’s genuinely one of the best scripts I’ve heard and obviously, because he narrated the script to me, I got a sense of how he wants to tell it. That was in early 2016 and here we are, releasing the film. It’s been a wonderful journey really.


I wanted to ask you – this is not the first time playing a radio jockey for you. In Munnabhai, you were also an RJ but with a very different film. After that film, I think I heard people say “Good morning Mumbai!” about seven hundred times.

(Laughs). You know wherever I go, people still ask me to say it. Whichever city, country I’m in, they always want me to say Good morning, whichever country they are in, so like “Good morning, Canada!”. I mean, I do it (chuckles).

It’s so much fun and so cheerful.



When you said it in the film, I really felt that you were an RJ. This time around though the feel is different, a little bit more naughty.

I think I just grew up Armin (laughs). You know, honestly, when I did “Good morning Mumbai!”, I was new in films. There was a certain innocence I would say that was captured beautifully in Lage Raho Munnabhai. There was a freshness. Here, there is a certain seductiveness to it. I think that happens with a certain amount of experience in life. And I’m so glad it happened because I got a chance to play the exact opposite of what I did almost ten years ago. It’s wonderful because Sulu is a late-night RJ, so there is a certain intimate quality to the way she does her show. You know, it is the exact opposite -  in Lage Raho Munnabhai, she woke you up, and in Tumhari Sulu, she lulls you to sleep.


In the trailer, there is this part closer to the end, there is a laughter exchange. I think that part is absolutely hilarious. I don’t know if people have told you this, but your laughter is contagious.

Oh, thank you (laughs)!

I think by the time it is nearing the end, it is so hilarious, because by the time the exchange of laughter happens, you end up laughing out loud, and I find myself laughing out loud with you.

I went to watch the trailer earlier because I went to go watch another film and I was SO amazed by the reactions in the audience. There were ripples of laughter after a few seconds after the trailer stopped.


Was that scene hard to do or easier to do because you seem like somebody who can laugh easily?

You know, Armin, I finally get a role where I am able to laugh, where I am given a chance to smile and laugh easily. As I person, I do all the time. I get into these laughing fits and I laugh very easily. For the first time in my career, I wouldn’t be wrong to say that I got an opportunity to just smile and laugh unabashedly like this. I’ve enjoyed this. For me, it was easy.

But this scene, it isn’t in the script. When we were shooting the radio portions, Suresh came up to me and said, let’s try this. Within five minutes of discussing it, we were shooting this scene and it was shot in some fifteen minutes. And today, everyone is talking to me about that scene. I think people just want to laugh and they are liking that a lot.

I’ve watched the promotional videos and everyone seems to be getting along and it seems like a collaborative team effort. What was the vibe like on set?

You know, I’ve been very fortunate because I’ve gotten along with most people I work with. This was an exceptional experience. Suresh, the director, really believes in collaboration, so he entrusts responsibilities and gives certain jobs and delegates to people. He lets them see it through. There is a very high level of accomplishment and achievement within the team. Everyone’s sense of ownership in the film is high, which is great. The producers created an atmosphere on set that was conducive to Suresh being at his best, which then determines how the team turns out. There was no back-biting, no politicking, no one was lackadaisical. There was a joy in working – this experience was very special to all of us who worked on the film. You know, the technicians, for example the boy in charge of the air conditioning came and told us at the end of the shoot that, “I have worked in films for thirty odd years but this experience is the first I’ve ever felt I have contributed to making a film.”


Everyone always has such great things to say about you. But we’re seeing a film after a really long time with a female lead where we are not constantly being inundated with messages and lectures and preaches. Is that where Tumhari Sulu differentiates between other films?

I think you hit the nail on the head. I couldn’t have said it the way you did. It’s not at all preachy. It’s a family’s journey when the woman sets out to get a job, it is such an unusual job. And there is no attempt to give out a message. People always ask me, what is your message for women empowerment? I say “nothing”. She is just unapologetically her. She is got zest for life. She is someone who tries everything, she says “main kar sakti hai” and that’s how she lands this job. There is this word we use in India called “enthu cutlet” which means she has too much enthusiasm for everything. So, you’re seeing the journey of female-centric cinema evolving. I remember when I did Ishqiya and Noone Killed Jessica, there were no other female lead films really. When these films did well, they began to make more of these. While some of them did really well, some of them were a bit confused. What’s interesting is that people are picking up stories from life. You are no longer seeing women just being depicted as holier than thou, or as victims, or as vamps. They are just real people, which is resonating with the audience.



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