In Conversation with Milind Dhaimade – the very talented writer/director of Tu Hai Mera Sunday.
interviewed by Souranath Banerjee
Milind Dhaimade – an independent filmmaker who believes that everybody is born for some purpose in life and for him it is film making!
His film Tu Hai Mera Sunday is been considered as one of the most entertaining films at the recent Mumbai Film Festival and immensely appreciated as well.
In Conversation with Milind Dhaimade as he talks about his journey as a filmmaker!
Hi Milind, Welcome to Cinema Forensic.
Thank you so much.
Your film ‘Tu Hai Mera Sunday’ was screened in Mumbai Film Festival and got a very positive response. Feels good?
I never thought of Tu Hai Mera Sunday as a festival-film at all. It’s a very ‘happy’ kind of film, if you know what I mean. It’s a Bombay-story and bits of it is from my life. So when we got selected for Film Bazar and for BFI London Film Festival, I was pretty shocked! I mean wow! looks like we have made something that also has an international appeal (smiles).
But for me the real joy is always home you know. You want to know what will people think in India, in Bombay. We did some screenings and we always got positive responses from the audience. And that’s why Mumbai Film Festival was fantastic for me, home ground – the ultimate test and it all went so well!
Superb! So tell me how did it all start, you have an advertising background right?
Yes. See, though I come from a non-filmy background but from my childhood I was very much interested in theatre and films.
But I come from a tough family where people expect you to have real jobs. Then somebody told me about advertising where you can be creative and also have a job, like I can write and make my own stuff. And that’s how I started the journey of advertising and I enjoyed it very much; a great training process of instantly thinking on your feet, thinking of 10 different things at one time and all. But at the back of my mind this filmmaking thing was always there.
So when did you start planning to make a film?
Actually there was no proper plan as such. It was not like ‘ok look, so after ten, twelve years I will make a film’.
While making ad films I met some very good filmmakers and had a great time working with them. Soon we (me and my wife) were way up in the corporate ladder, we could go higher as well but at some point you realise that the higher you go the lesser is the creativity part you know. It’s more of people management and salaries and stuff like that. Then we realised that we are getting away from the things we liked to do, it’s all about sustaining in the corporate goals and all.
At that time in 2005, me and my wife had a chat and decided we should do what we always wanted to do. So we quit our jobs and started planning to make a film. For me it’s like from a very early age you know that you are born for a purpose and you kind of know that you are gonna do it somewhere down the line no matter when. So I was pretty sure about this. The only thing I didn’t know was how?
So by this time you have decided on a particular story?
I started developing a few stories, and then what happened, I had a friend in advertising, Vinay Kanchan and they have a group called Juhu Beach United. So these bunch of guys play at Juhu Beach every Sunday. They come from mixed background and they just love playing football. So it just struck me that what would happen if these guys couldn’t get a place to play on a Sunday – what would they do? That’s how the story started developing.
Finally in 2008 I started writing this, and I took my time. As I said there was no plan or deadline as such. So for one and half years down the line we kind of had the final version. And also over the years I have picked my team, it took time but it’s very important that you choose the right people with whom you want to work.
Then the other thing was shopping the script. Not that we went to too many studios but you also realise that there is a certain film culture here which is little weird, basically it’s not based on scripts but it’s based on casting and actors. But this film is about everyday guys – if you put some high profile stars in it – it simply won’t work. And we were very sure whom we wanted to cast and the casting directors Anmol (Anmol Ahuja) and Abhishek (Abhishek Banerjee) did a great job. Be it Barun Sobti, Shahana Goswami, Pallavi Batra, Avinash Tiwary, Vishal Malhotra, Masnvi Gagroo, Rasika Dugal, Suhas Ahuja, Nakul bhalla, Jay upadhyay and Shiv Subhramaniyum – it was a perfect cast.
So finally we decided to fund it ourselves, put together whatever money we had and the best part is my wife agreed! Surprisingly! (laughs).
And finally in 2015 we started putting it together, by then the script was locked and the casting was done, and the funds ready. Then I spent six months with my music director Amartha Rao, doing the songs and the music. Each song is based on some idea in the film so – we wanted the songs to be really special! And ya, so by May 2016 we were on floor, shooting it.
And so for how many days did the shoot went on?
It was a 38 days schedule – mostly Bombay and a few days in Goa – a week or so. It was amazing because 38 days was 38 days. Nothing went off track and everything was fantastic! My producer Varun Shah had planned it beautifully. Normally whoever comes out of a film shoot comes out with a regret, barring whoever has invested in it but here everybody was happy, everyone enjoyed. All of my crew are actually writing to me saying ‘now make the next film’. We had a great time!
That’s so cool! So after the shoot got over did it take much time in the post?
Yes, we took our time in post as well. It took around six months, I think by 2015 December it was done. We also had some international buyers and distributers interested in our film, so some time went in getting an international cut as well. They wanted a shorter version.
So when is ‘Tu hai mere Sunday’ going to release in the theatres?
See the good thing about this film is it’s not totally a festival film nor entirely a commercial film. It can be very well enjoyed by the audience, intelligent audience. So currently talking to people about the whole distribution and marketing plans – and I am realising a lot of stuff about ‘making-a-film’ Vs ‘selling-a-film’. And that making is actually very easy – like 25% of the whole process. The harder part is of course selling it. But then we have lot of positive responses, but we just have to choose the right kind of partnership. So, it will be releasing soon.
All the best for the release of your film Milind and now tell me something about you, like when did your get interested in filmmaking?
Well, as a kid, when I think back now – I always loved movies. I had a ritual of watching one film a week without my father knowing about it. I would flick money from his wallet and I would go alone and watch films (laughs). Yes, all my childhood I have seen movies alone!
But that time of course I wasn’t thinking of movies as a career or so, it was just my passion. And my favourite thing was to watch these movies and then narrate them to my friends and that too I would put my own masala in those stories while narrating them. I think I loved entertaining people and also the attention!
With my friends I used to do plays in my locality when we were just six, seven years old. During the summer time we didn’t have much to do, so we would write our own crap and perform. Once I remember we saw The 36th Chamber of Shaolin and we made our own play based on that. It was rubbish but that’s how it all started (laughs).
I was supposed to study science and get a decent job, the typical middle-class Maharashtrian path all chalked out for me. But in college I soon realised I was not cut out for science and ended up joining commerce. My dad freaked out and finally decided I should go for CA. I also promised I would study hard. But then I got introduced to theatre and that changed my life.
There was this intercollegiate competition where me along with my friend put up a play and it won all the awards! And after that there was no looking back for me. We started writing, acting and directing our own plays and I thoroughly enjoyed this process. I liked directing more than acting and so I slowly shifted on this side of the camera.
So in college we were obsessed with theatre and films, and now when I look back it’s great, I realise this is what I always wanted to do – making films!