Director: Milind Dhaimade
Cast: Barun Sobti, Shahana Goswami, Vishal Malhotra, Nakul Bhalla
Runtime: 2 hrs 4 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Coarse Language & Sexual references)
Released By: Lighthouse Pictures & Golden Village Pictures
Official Website: https://www.facebook.com/tuhaimerasunday
Opening Day: 6 October 2017
Synopsis: A heartwarming story of five Sunday football friends trying to escape the madness of everyday life and their trysts to find happiness and love.
What is your state of life now? Are you happy with it? And perhaps more importantly, what are you fighting for in life? Writer-director Milind Dhaimade asks those questions of his five middle-aged male protagonists in his feature filmmaking debut ‘Tu Hai Meera Sunday’ (or ‘You Are My Sunday’) but these are questions that we could as easily ask ourselves. But first, the movie gets its title from the quintet’s regular gathering of football at their favourite spot on Juhu Beach, a custom that is unexpectedly disrupted one particular Sunday when the nicest guy among them Arjun (Barun Sobti) invites an old man they accidentally knocked into to join them. Before their game is over, the said old geezer will kick the ball that lands squarely onto the head of the female President of the Juhu Citizens’ Association delivering a speech on the same beach, thereby causing the sport to be banned and the pals to be forced to look for another playing ground within the crowded city of Mumbai, which in itself is also a metaphor for what the movie tries to portray.
As Arjun opens up to the old man’s daughter Kevi (Shahana Goswami), we learn how the Berkeley and Indian Institute of Management graduate was once a high-flyer in the business world, before deciding to call it quits entirely to run his own business helping small- and medium-sized enterprises do sales and marketing. That he doesn’t have a place to call his own but bunks in with his sister and her family is of little concern to him; all that matters to him is that he leads a happy, carefree life. Contrast that to pent-up office worker Mehernosh (Nakul Bhalla), who puts up with a demanding boss during office hours and goes home to type anonymous ‘insult’ letters that he mails to the boss. What particularly irks him is how his boss abuses the office secretary Peppy (Pallavi Batra) whom he has an undeniable crush on. The rest, though not in the corporate world, have their own respective frustrations to contend with – Domi (Vishal Malhotra), a former musician turned party organiser, has to face up to an overbearing mother and an older brother now back from Dubai whom he holds a grudge against; Rashid (Avinash Tiwary) is a self-professed ‘ladies man’ whose womanising ways hide his own deep scar from a previous relationship; and last but not least, Jayesh (Jay Upadhyay) is constantly putting up with his large family and their raucous ways at home.
By the end of the movie though, each will be presented with an opportunity to turn their life around. Arjun and Revi will come to fall in love with each other, even though the former’s daftness will be a stumbling block before they eventually get together. Mehernosh will give his boss a due dressing-down, even though it comes at the expense of his job. Domi and his brother will come to peace with each other, thanks to the sunny charms of his new soon-to-be sister-in-law Vinta (Maanvi Gagroo) who encourages Domi to embrace his inner musician once more. Rashid will come to overcome his past with a divorcee Tasneem (Rasika Dugal) who lives downstairs with her two deaf sons. The turning point is a weekend getaway/ road trip to Goa, which will force them to confront what they already know about their own ‘stuck’ lives but have tried to avoid confronting head on. Through his characters’ vicissitudes, Dhaimade’s message here is simple but no less resonant – avoid letting yourself be caught by the daily grind of life, which is a very likely casualty of city life like Mumbai (or even say Singapore?), but be ever observant to seize the chances that life gives you to make a real change.
More than what it says, ‘Tu Hai Meera Sunday’ is an immensely enjoyable watch because of how it says what it wants to say. Dhaimade steers clear of melodrama and/or histrionics, opting instead for a cheerful, light-hearted tone most of time, which is in itself a reflection of his characters’ dispositions. At the same time, he keeps the comedy and drama in his movie nicely balanced, so that the laughs never do diminish the true-to-life challenges that each one of his characters is facing. Over the course of two hours, the movie’s characters are also given plenty of space to come into their own, and it is notable how fully realised they do become (with perhaps the exception of Jayesh) as well as how much you’ll come to embrace these individuals dealing with their coming-into-middle-age. Much of the movie’s charm also derives from the wonderful ensemble cast, whose sincere and charming performances make their characters come to life in delightful ways. The great chemistry among the leading quintet also embodies beautifully the camaraderie among the five 30-somethings, and their close friendship is where the movie often derives its heartfelt warmth.
Truth be told, we never expected to enjoy ‘Tu Hai Meera Sunday’ as much as we did. There are no immediately big recognisable Bollywood stars in this, which not only means that there are no showboating distraction but also that the focus is rightly on the characters than on the actors per se. It is to Dhaimade’s credit that the movie on the whole always feels real, authentic and grounded, thanks to deliberate choices in storytelling, characterisation and actual location filming in and around the streets of Mumbai. If ‘Slumdog Millionnaire’ presented a romanticised version of India, this is as honest an account as it gets about the middle-aged middle-class trying to find their purpose, footing and reason in life amidst the pressures of society as well as the sheer pace of change itself. No wonder then that the movie which has travelled to film festivals in US and UK has also been picking up a handful of audience choice awards along the way – there is a rare geniality, genuineness and good-naturedness that will easily win you over, and Sundays or otherwise, it will gladly make your day.
(As pleasing as Sundays are meant to be, this coming-into-middle-age story of five 30-somethings is a warm, sincere and genuine crowd-pleasing delight)
Review by Gabriel Chong