Cast: Shilpa Shetty Kundra, Amit Sadh, Chaitannya Choudhry, Maahi Jain, Kusha Kapila, Dilnaz Irani, Pavleen Gujral
Direction: Sonal Joshi
Sukhee is not a message-oriented film with some cause attached to it. Nor does it try to get into a social commentary zone. But yes, it’s an important film in today’s times, highlighting a subject that often doesn’t get the attention it deserves. While Sukhee can be easily put in the category of women empowerment cinema, it is slightly more than that. It’s about self-realisations, about valuing and prioritising yourself over others, and about being brave and courageous in the most difficult circumstances. (Also Read | Shilpa Shetty reveals Raj Kundra ‘forced’ her to sign Sukhee)
It’s about a woman rising above the relationships she is defined by — a daughter, sister, wife, mother, daughter-in-law etc. It’s about women choosing to be ‘Bedhadak, Besharam, Beparwah’. And when director Sonal Joshi delivers all this in a humorous manner, with Shilpa Shetty Kundra putting her heart and soul into it as Sukhee, it makes for such a heartwarming watch. Besides being a story of a housewife and her family, Sukhee also celebrates friendships and bonds that matter.
Though it’s only natural for a film based on the titular character’s story to focus more on the protagonist as compared to others, Sukhee doesn’t go around beating drums and talking about everyone’s issues. It keeps us invested in Sukhee’s life, her problems and her happiness, while sporadically mentioning the issues faced by her girl squad — Meher (Kusha Kapila), Mansi (Dilnaz Irani) and Tanvi (Pavleen Gujral).
Sukhee is a slice-of-life story, light-hearted comedy but deep down, it strikes an emotional chord. It makes you believe that there is a Sukhee in all of us. At the risk of being judged, I’d say that it’s not easy for a lot of women to make the choice that Sukhee eventually makes, but in its own way, that’s also a showcase of strength and courage. Sukhee is no Thappad, but it has its own way of telling how you can stand for your self-respect. It also has touches of English Vinglish, but never to a point that you start to draw similarities or compare.
Set in a small town called Anandkot, Sukhpreet Kalra aka Sukhee (Shilpa) is a middle-class Punjabi housewife, living with her husband Guru (Chaitannya Choudhry), teenage daughter Jassi (Maahi Jain) and ailing father-in-law (Vinod Nagpal). In Sukhee’s own words, ‘meri zindagi bas subah ke chai aur raat ke doodh ke beech mein latak rahi hai’. While the man of the house is struggling to make ends meet, daughter is doing head girl duties in school, back home, Sukhee is fed up with her mundane routine, and wishes to go to Delhi for a school reunion with her besties – ‘Kuttiyon ka reunion’ as their Whatapp group name reads.
But, when have women in our households been given the freedom to decide for themselves, instead they always need to seek permission. Sukhee does the same, gets a no for answer, and then just follows her heart and ends up with her girls to take for the much-needed break. How this weekend trip extended into an entire week makes Sukhee relive the best days of her life, reconnect with herself and do things she felt lively doing as a 17-year-old, is what forms the crux of the film. There are some deeper realisations, regrets and reconciliations along the way, but that’s for you to watch the film, and I’d keep this review spoiler-free.
The first half takes us through Sukhee life post-marriage, her bonding with her father-in-law, who always says, ‘Sukee naam wale log kabhi dukhi nahi hote), and her constant conflicts with her husband and teenage daughter. It’s the second half when things spice up and the friendships takes over. Though her family is always at the back of her mind, Sukhee doesn’t want to miss these moments for anything.
The story co-written by Radhika Anand, Paulomi Dutta and Rupinder Inderjit is simple and doesn’t needlessly get complicated. It flows smoothly, making you laugh at the jokes, most of which land. Sukhee is laced with slangs, double-meaning jokes, cuss words said in the most hilarious way, and not for once any of it sounds vulgar or awkward. Instead, it’s cleverly used to up the humour quotient. Dialogues aren’t over-the-top but could have been better written for a lasting impact. At one or two places, it takes the risk of getting slightly preachy, but thankfully, we aren’t treated to any long monologues.
At 141 minutes, Sukhee is undoubtedly dragged, and needed a crisper editing, especially in the second half. At times, you feel it’s going in circles and not reaching anywhere. There’s a full-fledged scene just trying to ride on toilet humour, and that was honestly just so unnecessary. Ironically, that’s also when the best scene of the film happens… These four friends vent and scream their problems out loud inside a public toilet, which by the way, is shown to be way cleaner than you’d actually expect such spaces to be in Delhi. Another thing that may sound problematic is that Sukhee tries to say a lot in very little time, and at times, ends up being over-stuffed and in-your-face.
Shilpa Shetty is the soul of the film, and as Sukhee, she is just so endearing. She needed a script like Sukhee that not only does justice to her acting prowess, but also, lets her make the character her own. Shilpa showcases a gamut of emotions; she’s free-spirited, funny, daring and at the same time, never shrugs her responsibility as a homemaker, and takes care of her husband and daughter. In comic scenes, she laughs her heart out, while in the emotionally charged portions, you feel her pain. That being said, the de-ageing portions looks quite odd and overdone.
Coming to her girl gang, Kusha, Pavleen and Dilnaz beautifully complement Sukhee’s tale. Kusha is an extension of what we’ve already seen in her on Instagram, though I like how she is so natural on screen, and contributes to most of the fun element. Chaitannya Choudhry delivers an earnest act as the typical male-chauvinist husband, who won’t miss a single chance to rub it in your face that he runs the house, and homemakers are good for nothing.
If Shilpa is the soul of the film, Amit Sadh, credited as a special appearance in the film, adds heart to this story. As the eye-candy and Sukhee’s schoolmate, he is such a charmer. In whatever limited scenes he gets, Sadh doesn’t disappoint, and takes the story forward the most organic way, not making it look forced at any point. Another sweet cameo by Lotty Alaric in the first half is sure to put a smile on your face. Even in a few second that she’s there on screen, her comic timing and dialogue delivery leaves you in splits.
With its intention clear and heart at the right place, Sukhee keeps you engaged without any dull moments. Amid all the noisy actioners which are ringing cash registers at the box office, Sukhee brings a sense of calm, and offers a light-hearted family film, which makes you laugh, cry and leaves you with a thought in the end. Watch it with your family and girl friends, and you won’t be disappointed.