Tu Hai Mera Sunday movie review: Milind Dhaimade's slice-of-life film is a sweet ode to Mumbai

By Udita Jhunjhunwala

Director Milind Dhaimade’s slice-of-life film is quintessentially Mumbai. It follows a jovial crew of five guys who are easy to relate to and identify with.

The film opens with these five friends tossing around a football as they walk down a skywalk. Their easy banter is interrupted when they encounter an older man (Shiv Subramaniam), seemingly lost and mumbling to himself. Arjun (Barun Sobti), a self-employed ad-man, takes on the responsibility of delivering this man back home. But only after Arjun, Jayesh (Jay Upadhyay), Rashid (Avinash Tiwary), Mehernosh (Nakul Bhalla) and Dominic (Vishal Malhotra) finish their game of football on Juhu beach. This Sunday ritual is sacrosanct.

Dhaimade took inspiration from personal experiences – his own and those of a real group of friends united by their love for a friendly game of footie. The characters that populate this feelgood film are archetypes, complete with quirks and complexities. They represent familiar urban and familial issues. This is the greatest strength of Tu Hai Mera Sunday.

The true-to-life nature of the scenes is captured in the moment in a local bar. You can imagine that playing out in hundreds of Shetty bars in Mumbai, with a bunch of boys shooting the breeze, asking for chakhna (snacks), chucking peanuts at each other, squabbling etc. Though there are stereotypes here - the Goan boy, the Gujarati family man, the bachelor who gets doe-eyed over an angelic neighbour (played by Rasika Dugal) - they don’t feel unreal.

When five friends, whose lives seems to centre around their football game on the beach, find themselves chucked out of their favourite playing arena, life comes unstuck. As they hunt for an alternative pitch, or patch of ground to play on, we wander through the claustrophobia of a mushrooming city with shrinking open spaces and lack of privacy. Their frustration spills into their personal lives. Whether it’s professional stress, family problems or romantic complications, they go through the ups and downs without the calming balance of football.

The film subtly, and sometimes not so subtly, comments about the lack of open space in the city, about people’s impatience with sports and sports' influence in making us better people. When desperation takes them to Goa, Arjun’s friend Kavi (Shahana Goswami) comments on getting away to new places with expanse allows one to connect better with oneself and others. Not only did that thought resonate but also I could also feel myself yearning for a road trip.

Dhaimade adeptly balances the ensemble cast. Sobti is charming; Upadhyay, as the Gujarati, brings in the comic element; Bhalla, as the Parsi prone to meltdowns, Malhotra and Tiwary convey the idiosyncrasies and angst of their inner worlds with assurance. Goswami does well with her dialogues in Tamil. There are a few unnecessary characters, and some tracks that remain under-explored but these are minor quibbles for a film that has its heart and intention in the right place.

Tu Hai Mera Sunday is a sweet ode to Mumbai that stokes our love for the city, chinks and all.