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‘Tu Hai Mera Sunday’ review: The super dense crush load of Mumbai and the heart

Milind Dhaimade’s charming slice of life comedy is about the literal and spiritual lack of elbow room in the megapolis.

Milind Dhaimade’s first feature Tu Hai Mera Sunday was completed a year ago, but its eventual release is actually well-timed. The observational comedy is hitting cinemas days after 23 Mumbai residents lost their lives in a senseless stampede at the Elphinstone Road railway station, and is thus well placed to comment on the super dense crush load that characterises not only train travel but also relationships in the megapolis.

Only long-time Mumbai residents will truly appreciate the crisis that erupts when five friends who play football every Sunday on Juhu beach are denied their weekly game. A badly timed kick lands on the head of a local activist, who promptly shuts down the beach. Bereft of their Sunday pastime, Arjun (Barun Sobti), Rashid (Avinash Tiwary), Dominic (Vishal Malhotra), Mehernosh (Nakul Bhalla) and Jay Upadhyaya (Jayesh) spiral off in different directions.

Arjun starts to woo Kavya (Shahana Goswami) by babysitting her Alzheimer’s-affected father (Shiv Subramaniam). Rashid sets aside his Casanova ways and develops a friendship with the married Tasneem (Rasika Dugal) and her hearing impaired sons. Dominic tries to adjust to the sudden reappearance of his elder brother and his fiancé. Jayesh flees his raucous joint family by working on Sundays. Mehernosh decides to stand up to his cruel boss once and for all.

Each of the characters confronts the lack of literal and spiritual elbow room in Mumbai in different ways, even as they keep hunting for a replacement playground. They travel far and wide in their quest, from indoor parking lots to housing societies where cricket holds sway, just to have the pleasure of stretching their legs. A trip to Goa offers a momentary escape, but as Mehernosh reminds the group, they can’t run away forever.

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Tu Hai Mera Sunday.

Despite tackling heavyweight themes, Tu Hai Mera Sunday has none of the angst associated with the Mumbai movie – the narrative is less pressure cooker than a gently simmering pot. Dhaimade always remembers to thrown in a good joke or a comical situation, proving that humour is necessary to survive Mumbai’s harsh living conditions. He assembles a charming set of actors whose comfort with their roles and each other produces several winning moments of camaraderie and solidarity. Among the supporting cast, Rama Joshi is especially good as Dominic’s long-suffering mother.

The relaxed pacing allows each of the narrative tracks to unfold properly. The most extensive track belongs to Arjun, an easygoing type who has dropped out of the corporate rat race and has buried the ability to confront big decisions, including the obvious outcome of his crackling chemistry with Kavya. Arjun’s brow gets mildly furrowed, but is soon cleared in keeping with the sunny optimism that characterises the plot.

The other most compelling track belongs to Rashid and Tasneem, whose unconventional bond is a testament of the movie’s ability to accommodate relationships of all shades. Like the others in the movie, Rashid and Tasneem represent Mumbai’s famed reputation for adjustment and embracing new experiences. The city is often soul-crushing and yet endures in unimaginable ways. Through its cross-weave of characters and subplots, Tu Hai Mera Sunday suggests that the spirit of Mumbai isn’t a cliché. All it needs is some space to stretch and kick around a ball or two.

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Changing the conversation around mental health in rural India

Insights that emerged from discussions around mental health at a village this World Mental Health Day.

Questioning is the art of learning. For an illness as debilitating as depression, asking the right questions is an important step in social acceptance and understanding. How do I open-up about my depression to my parents? Can meditation be counted as a treatment for depression? Should heartbreak be considered as a trigger for deep depression? These were some of the questions addressed by a panel consisting of the trustees and the founder of The Live Love Lough Foundation (TLLLF), a platform that seeks to champion the cause of mental health. The panel discussion was a part of an event organised by TLLLF to commemorate World Mental Health Day.

According to a National Mental Health Survey of India 2015-16, conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), common mental disorders including depression, anxiety disorders and substance use disorders affect nearly 10% of the population, with 1 in 20 people in India suffering from depression. The survey reported a huge treatment gap, a problem that is spread far and wide across urban and rural parts of the country.

On 10th of October, trustees of the foundation, Anna Chandy, Dr. Shyam Bhat and Nina Nair, along with its founder, Deepika Padukone, made a visit to a community health project centre in Devangere, Karnataka. The project, started by The Association of People with Disability (APD) in 2010, got a much-needed boost after partnering with TLLLF 2 years ago, helping them reach 819 people suffering from mental illnesses and spreading its program to 6 Taluks, making a difference at a larger scale.

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During the visit, the TLLLF team met patients and their families to gain insights into the program’s effectiveness and impact. Basavaraja, a beneficiary of the program, spoke about the issues he faced because of his illness. He shared how people used to call him mad and would threaten to beat him up. Other patients expressed their difficulty in getting access to medical aid for which they had to travel to the next biggest city, Shivmoga which is about 2 hours away from Davangere. A marked difference from when TLLLF joined the project two years ago was the level of openness and awareness present amongst the villagers. Individuals and families were more expressive about their issues and challenges leading to a more evolved and helpful conversation.

The process of de-stigmatizing mental illnesses in a community and providing treatment to those who are suffering requires a strong nexus of partners to make progress in a holistic manner. Initially, getting different stakeholders together was difficult because of the lack of awareness and resources in the field of mental healthcare. But the project found its footing once it established a network of support from NIMHANS doctors who treated the patients at health camps, Primary Healthcare Centre doctors and the ASHA workers. On their visit, the TLLLF team along with APD and the project partners discussed the impact that was made by the program. Were beneficiaries able to access the free psychiatric drugs? Did the program help in reducing the distance patients had to travel to get treatment? During these discussions, the TLLLF team observed that even amongst the partners, there was an increased sense of support and responsiveness towards mental health aid.

The next leg of the visit took the TLLLF team to the village of Bilichodu where they met a support group that included 15 patients and caregivers. Ujjala Padukone, Deepika Padukone’s mother, being a caregiver herself, was also present in the discussion to share her experiences with the group and encouraged others to share their stories and concerns about their family members. While the discussion revolved around the importance of opening up and seeking help, the team brought about a forward-looking attitude within the group by discussing future possibilities in employment and livelihood options available for the patients.

As the TLLLF team honoured World Mental Health day, 2017 by visiting families, engaging with support groups and reviewing the successes and the challenges in rural mental healthcare, they noticed how the conversation, that was once difficult to start, now had characteristics of support, openness and a positive outlook towards the future. To continue this momentum, the organisation charted out the next steps that will further enrich the dialogue surrounding mental health, in both urban and rural areas. The steps include increasing research on mental health, enhancing the role of social media to drive awareness and decrease stigma and expanding their current programs. To know more, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of The Live Love Laugh Foundation and not by the Scroll editorial team.