October 15 2016
New film (world premiere at London Film Festival today) is authentic, entertaining and thoughtful about India’s own city of dreams…
MODERN life sucks, especially if you live in a big city. A Mega metropolis. A place so mad, cacophonous, and crowded, it’s hard sometimes even to hear yourself think.
Some of you know it exists, some of you have been there, have gone there looking just for that…and more.
And sure as a visitor, as someone who can get out any time – it’s worth a trip.
But imagine living there day in day out, for years, decades, a lifetime.
Mumbai. Bombay. The film, “You are my Sunday” is a sort of love letter to the Indian city of dreams.
People go there in search of their fortune, their careers, their selves (and their souls, though they would be crazy to admit it and no one can or does).
There are around 12 million possibilities – one for each of its supposed inhabitants.
“You are my Sunday” is more than that, it shows the richness of life in an Indian city, that is something of a melting pot.
We have London, we have New York, but it’s easy to forget Mumbai is just that too. May be there are not people there from every nation and every ethnicity on earth (that time may yet come…), but as far as every nook, corner and cranny of India is concerned, someone has made it their home and calls it as such.
On the surface “You are My Sunday”, is about five guys whose weekly ritual of playing football on Juhu beach is monumentally disrupted when they invite a slightly off centre old man (he appears to have a form of dementia) to join them.
The aftermath takes them on an odyssey, personal, professional, and critical.
Milind Dhaimade’s first feature is made with love and passion, and he handles his five central characters very well. In a lesser hands, it could so easily have crumbled.
Led by a corporate dropout (Berkeley, no less) Arjun – played by international TV star Barun Sobti, these disparate individuals find a bond and sense of belonging – almost like another family.
Perhaps there’s a little bit of stereotyping in this – but Dhaimade, who wrote the script, makes each central character rounded and particular (and peculiar). It’s part of the film’s charm.
There are some very conscious anti-Bollywood elements (more of this later when we publish our interviews with Dhaimade and the cast); the women are strong, independent, and attractive – physically and emotionally – but it’s not overdone.
Dhaimade covers a huge amount of ground, (and there are some parallels with “A Billion Colour Story”*, which is also set in Mumbai and makes these points more directly): interfaith relationships and intolerance; care of the elderly; professional pressures; modern romance and dating (Indian style); attitudes towards disability.
But it is done here, with a lightness of touch and doesn’t seem too contrived.
Again, to lean on a conversation with the cast, this is about middle-class India, the sort of people who have money but not a lot of it, and whose lives are not wholly removed from most in the West and subject to the same pressures, anxieties and concerns.
Don’t go to a Bollywood film, if you want see Mumbai as it is, go to something like “You are My Sunday” or “A Billion Colour Story” (if you want something a little more pointed in purpose).
On a slightly diversionary note and more for the intellectuals among you,(you know who you are…the rest of you can stop reading now. Haha).
There’s an essay in the collection of them published in the recent book “The Good Immigrant”, where the actor Riz Ahmed (who along with Billie Piper is the best thing about “City of Tiny Lights”*), where he says if you watch British films you really have very little idea that our country is a multi-racial melting pot. There are very few films that reflect the reality of Britain as it is today.
But he says if you watch US films – Hollywood ones, you get a sense of a multi-racial society, even though the country is divided and is more racially segregated than is sometimes portrayed on screen.
And so what about India? And what of Mumbai/Bombay, the home of the Indian film industry itself? What sort of representation is communicated from what we see on the big screen? How do foreigners (even those with Indian heritage like us) see India and Mumbai through what we experience in the cinema?
There’s Bollywood and then…
“You are My Sunday” appears like a window into a more real India/Mumbai, with both its points of beauty in the friendships that can develop from literally living cheek by jowl and being open-minded – to its disturbing and increasing dangers – with groups reclaiming and retreating into their accepted, religious, ethnic and regional social groups and refusing to engage meaningfully with anyone outside of them.
This could be another “The Lunchbox” but only with time and a clever marketing strategy in place, will we be able to tell…
ACV rating:*** 1/2 (out of five)
*Films screened at the London Film Festival which concludes tomorrow (October 16)
*More reviews from us soon
*Tickets from “You are my Sunday” are still available for Saturday (first screening) tonight 6pm, Vue (Leicester Square) and tomorrow, 12.15pm Haymarket, (Shaftesbury Avenue)
* Tickets still available for “A Billion Colour Story” (review tomorrow); screens tomorrow (October 16) at 6pm, NFT2 (BFI Southbank).
*More pictures (Facebook tomorrow)