Film preview

It’s a goal for football film ‘Tu Hi Mera Sunday’

Milind Dhaimade’s debut movie is a fuzzy and feel-good comedy that uses football as a metaphor to explore the city’s shrinking spaces.

When Indian filmmakers reach for sporting metaphors to make sense of the world, cricket is usually the game of choice. But Milind Dhaimade’s debut feature Tu Hai Mera Sunday kicks its way down a different path: he uses football to explore the severe shortage of open spaces in Mumbai as well as the lack of emotional elbow room. Tu Hai Mera Sunday is in the Indian competition section at the Mumbai Film Festival (October 20-27). The movie will be shown at MFF after being screened at the BFI London Film Festival, and will be released in India in early 2017.

Tu Hai Mera Sunday captures a ritual that will be familiar to Mumbai residents. Every Sunday, a group of friends meets at Juhu beach to play football. One of the members, Arjun (television heartthrob Barun Sobti), adopts an old man in the early stages of dementia (Shiv Subramaniam). The old man causes an accident that leads to football being banned from the beach. From this scenario, Dhaimade weaves a feel-good yarn about friendship, romance, and the eternal quest for a small spot of peace in the most crowded metropolis in India.


The movie draws from Dhaimade’s personal experiences. An advertising filmmaker who grew up in Walkeshwar in South Mumbai and has lived for over two decades in Santa Cruz in the north, Dhaimade mined his knowledge of the city to write a screenplay that captures its often invisible rhythms and habits, mongrel speech patterns, and typical characters. “The seed of the film came from knowing this football evangelist friend of mine, Vinay Kanchan, who was instrumental in creating a group which plays football at Juhu beach every Sunday, aptly called Juhu Beach United,” Dhaimade said. “Now these guys are pretty legendary. So one day I was wondering what would happen to these guys if they couldn’t play football at the beach? That was the jumpstart to writing the script.”

The film was initially titled Juhu Beach United, but since that title was already registered by another producer, Dhaimade dipped into the lyrics of one of the songs composed by Amartya Rahut for the new title.

Football serves as a starting point to look at the ways in which Mumbai has changed and continues to be transformed by its obsession with constructing buildings over every available inch of available land. The film is, however, not a dirge for the near-absence of an concrete-free stretch in the city. Tu Hai Mera Sunday also functions as a delayed coming of age narrative. All the characters are in their mid- or late twenties, but they have decided to drop out. Rather than chasing fat salaries and shimmying up the corporate ladder, each of the movie’s male characters is trying to delay adult responsibilities such as marriage and steady employment.

Sobti’s Arjun is a sweet-natured and laidback business school product who has quit his job to set up a consultancy firm. He lives with his sister’s family and falls for the senile old man’s daughter Kavya (Shahana Goswami) at first sight, but takes the entire film to confess his feelings to her.

Shahana Goswami and Barun Sobti in ‘Tu Hai Mera Sunday’.
Shahana Goswami and Barun Sobti in ‘Tu Hai Mera Sunday’.

The lack of outdoor space is mapped over the inner jostlings of Barun’s friends. Dominic (Vishal Malhotra) lives with his widowed mother and bristles when his brother returns from abroad with a girlfriend. Rashid (Avinash Tiwary) is a Casanova who finds himself drawn to his married neighbour (Rasika Dugal) and her hearing-impaired sons. Mehernosh (Nakul Bhalla) has a hellish boss and an exploited secretary to whom he is attracted, while Jayesh (Jay Upadhyay) is from a traditional, ritual-addicted family that he yearns to escape.

“Only when I got down to writing did I realise that I wanted to make it a more personal story and more than just about football,” Dhaimade said. “So I started adding bits and pieces from my life, my friends and my experiences growing up in Mumbai and meshed everything into this story.”

The characters and their easy camaraderie are echoes of people the filmmaker has known over his life in the city. “Diversity is the hallmark of Mumbai,” Dhaimade said. “Growing up, and then in college, I’ve had such a diverse bunch of friends. I have met such interesting characters that it would be impossible not to be influenced by all that. I used to play football in college and later I used to play with the Juhu Beach United gang. For me, the real memories were about the camaraderie after the games – when we all gathered together at an Irani, or at a tea stall. That banter is precious and it would be foolish of me not to exploit it.”

‘Tu Hai Mera Sunday’.
‘Tu Hai Mera Sunday’.

The screenplay’s first draft ran into 200 pages – as is to be expected from a cross-weave of characters and experiences.

“For me it’s one story, of space, seen from the perspective of different people living in this city,” Dhaimade said. “That helped me keep focus and fuse the characters seamlessly.” The naturalistic and slang-laden tone of the dialogue fell into place much more easily. “It’s not so difficult when your characters have been drawn from life,” Dhaimade said. “I love that kind of writing and am very particular when I write my screenplays to keep the language of the characters real. When dialogue is free of encumbrances such as plot and transparent motives, they automatically become conversational and less preachy.”

As the characters hunt for places to play football, they end up in a housing society complex, where, naturally, cricket is given preference. The characters travel to Goa, which seems to be the logical destination for the space-starved men and women, but it’s only a getaway, not a solution.

“Let’s leave Bombay,” one character says half-heartedly, only to be told that “All of India is becoming one big Bombay.”

Despite its light-hearted and fuzzy tone, Tu Hi Mera Sunday is a lament for a city that used to be gentler, less crowded and even, dare we say, beautiful. “The loss of personal space is the measure of prosperity for this city,” Dhaimade said. “Or maybe the people rather have tiny islands of happiness than one big happy island.” Mumbai is a mess six days of the week, but on the seventh, god rests, and optimism takes over.

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Ten awesome TV shows to get over your post-GoT blues

With those withdrawal symptoms kicking in, all you need is a good rebound show.

Hangovers tend to have a debilitating effect on various human faculties, but a timely cure can ease that hollow feeling generally felt in the pit of the stomach. The Game of Thrones Season 7 finale has left us with that similar empty feeling, worsened by an official statement on the 16-month-long wait to witness The Great War. That indeed is a long time away from our friends Dany, Jon, Queen C and even sweet, sweet Podrick. While nothing can quite replace the frosty thrill of Game of Thrones, here’s a list of awesome shows, several having won multiple Emmy awards, that are sure to vanquish those nasty withdrawal symptoms:

1. Billions

There is no better setting for high stakes white collar crime than the Big Apple. And featuring a suited-up Paul Giamatti going head-to-head with the rich and ruthless Damien Lewis in New York, what’s not to like? Only two seasons young, this ShowTime original series promises a wolf-of-wall-street style showcase of power, corruption and untold riches. Billions is a great high-octane drama option if you want to keep the momentum going post GoT.

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2. Westworld

What do you get when the makers of the Dark Knight Trilogy and the studio behind Game of Thrones collaborate to remake a Michael Crichton classic? Westworld brings together two worlds: an imagined future and the old American West, with cowboys, gun slingers - the works. This sci-fi series manages to hold on to a dark secret by wrapping it with the excitement and adventure of the wild west. Once the plot is unwrapped, the secret reveals itself as a genius interpretation of human nature and what it means to be human. Regardless of what headspace you’re in, this Emmy-nominated series will absorb you in its expansive and futuristic world. If you don’t find all of the above compelling enough, you may want to watch Westworld simply because George RR Martin himself recommends it! Westworld will return for season 2 in the spring of 2018.

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3. Big Little Lies

It’s a distinct possibility that your first impressions of this show, whether you form those from the trailer or opening sequence, will make you think this is just another sun-kissed and glossy Californian drama. Until, the dark theme of BLL descends like an eerie mist, that is. With the serious acting chops of Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman as leads, this murder mystery is one of a kind. Adapted from author Liane Moriarty’s book, this female-led show has received accolades for shattering the one-dimensional portrayal of women on TV. Despite the stellar star cast, this Emmy-nominated show wasn’t easy to make. You should watch Big Little Lies if only for Reese Witherspoon’s long struggle to get it off the ground.

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4. The Night of

The Night Of is one of the few crime dramas featuring South Asians without resorting to tired stereotypes. It’s the kind of show that will keep you in its grip with its mysterious plotline, have you rooting for its characters and leave you devastated and furious. While the narrative revolves around a murder and the mystery that surrounds it, its undertones raises questions on racial, class and courtroom politics. If you’re a fan of True Detective or Law & Order and are looking for something serious and thoughtful, look no further than this series of critical acclaim.

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5. American Horror Story

As the name suggests, AHS is a horror anthology for those who can stomach some gore and more. In its 6 seasons, the show has covered a wide range of horror settings like a murder house, freak shows, asylums etc. and the latest season is set to explore cults. Fans of Sarah Paulson and Jessica Lange are in for a treat, as are Lady Gaga’s fans. If you pride yourself on not being weak of the heart, give American Horror Story a try.

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6. Empire

At its heart, Empire is a simple show about a family business. It just so happens that this family business is a bit different from the sort you are probably accustomed to, because this business entails running a record label, managing artistes and when push comes to shove, dealing with rivals in a permanent sort of manner. Empire treads some unique ground as a fairly violent show that also happens to be a musical. Lead actors Taraji P Henson and Terrence Howard certainly make it worth your while to visit this universe, but it’s the constantly evolving interpersonal relations and bevy of cameo appearances that’ll make you stay. If you’re a fan of hip hop, you’ll enjoy a peek into the world that makes it happen. Hey, even if you aren’t one, you might just grow fond of rap and hip hop.

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7. Modern Family

When everything else fails, it’s comforting to know that the family will always be there to lift your spirits and keep you chuckling. And by the family we mean the Dunphys, Pritchetts and Tuckers, obviously. Modern Family portrays the hues of familial bonds with an honesty that most family shows would gloss over. Eight seasons in, the show’s characters like Gloria and Phil Dunphy have taken on legendary proportions in their fans’ minds as they navigate their relationships with relentless bumbling humour. If you’re tired of irritating one-liners or shows that try too hard, a Modern Family marathon is in order. This multiple-Emmy-winning sitcom is worth revisiting, especially since the brand new season 9 premiers on 28th September 2017.

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8. The Deuce

Headlined by James Franco and Maggi Gyllenhaal, The Deuce is not just about the dazzle of the 1970s, with the hippest New York crowd dancing to disco in gloriously flamboyant outfits. What it IS about is the city’s nooks and crannies that contain its underbelly thriving on a drug epidemic. The series portrays the harsh reality of New York city in the 70s following the legalisation of the porn industry intertwined with the turbulence caused by mob violence. You’ll be hooked if you are a fan of The Wire and American Hustle, but keep in mind it’s grimmer and grittier. The Deuce offers a turbulent ride which will leave you wanting more.

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9. Dexter

In case you’re feeling vengeful, you can always get the spite out of your system vicariously by watching Dexter, our favourite serial killer. This vigilante killer doesn’t hide behind a mask or a costume, but sneaks around like a criminal, targeting the bad guys that have slipped through the justice system. From its premier in 2006 to its series finale in 2013, the Emmy-nominated Michael C Hall, as Dexter, has kept fans in awe of the scientific precision in which he conducts his kills. For those who haven’t seen the show, the opening credits give an accurate glimpse of how captivating the next 45 minutes will be. If it’s been a while since you watched in awe as the opening credits rolled, maybe you should revisit the world’s most loved psychopath for nostalgia’s sake.

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10. Rome

If you’re still craving an epic drama with extensive settings and a grandiose plot and sub-plots, Rome, co-produced by HBO and BBC, is where your search stops. Rome is a historical drama that takes you through an overwhelming journey of Ancient Rome’s transition from a republic to an empire. And when it comes to tastes, this series provides the similar full-bodied flavour that you’ve grown to love about Game of Thrones. There’s a lot to take away for those who grew up quoting Julius Caesar, and for those looking for a realistic depiction of the legendary gladiators. If you’re a history buff, give this Emmy-winning show a try.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Hotstar and not by the Scroll editorial team.