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Milind Dhaimade is perhaps a name on many lips now, more so post the success of ‘Tu Hai Mera Sunday’ (‘THMS’) which released last week. The film seems to have done well with mainstream audiences as well as at festivals with many from the Bollywood fraternity showing support. With a cast that includes Barun Sobti and Shahana Goswami and a story which is relatable, it seems its success was somewhat inevitable… or was it? caught up with Dhaimade to talk about how much the film has resonated with audiences around the world and in the sub-continent.

‘THMS’ is getting rave reviews from Indian critics after being a successful festival film. Did you expect this? How does it feel?
When we were making THMS, our focus was only on making a good film. So everything else is a bonus, especially the critics’ response. Everyone wants their film to be loved but has been amazing.

You’ve had much praise from the industry too, including from Aamir Khan. What do you think particularly worked with the audiences?
I am so grateful for all the love that film has got. Yes, I think everything contributed to making audiences sit up and take notice of the film. But largely the film itself has worked with the audiences. Whoever sees it falls in love with it. Every day we get messages on our page – practically every five minutes – from regular audience members who tell us how much they loved the film.

The film will be reaching more audiences as it’s to be dubbed in different languages. How would you expect Western audiences – not necessarily of Indian/Asian descent – to identify with the story?
When I made this film, we did not think of going international with it. It was a bright, happy film about urban India. When was the last time you saw something like this in festivals? To our surprise, a lot of international festivals picked up this film. That’s when we saw audiences other than South Asian react to it. What amazed us was that they all enjoyed it equally. I think there is an underlying theme of the film that touches audiences everywhere.

‘THMS’ has been described as “slice of life” story-telling and this seems to be quite popular even in commercial Bollywood. Do you think more simple stories are working with audiences?
More than just simple, I think audiences are also drawn to everyday life stories told interestingly. Between standard Bollywood themes and edgy art house cinema there is no representation for everyday people. So when a film comes from their life or their ethos they instantly fall in love.

Would you say audiences have evolved for the better?
Audiences have always been evolving. I think somewhere film-making devolved to being just a business of making money.

How did festival success contribute to the film’s ultimate release?
Like I said earlier, we had never thought of festivals while making this film. But thanks to NFDC Film Bazaar we realised that there might be some potential there. For us, the entire festival round, on one hand, acted like a morale booster giving us impetus to believe in our film. Also it got us in touch with varied audiences. It made more people sit up and take serious note of us and got us early audience interest. Also on a practical level, we got distribution for Singapore, Taiwan, Korea and Vietnam.

Do you think there might be scope for a second installment for ‘THMS’?
I would not want to be the kind of director that’s stuck to one project. But more than a sequel this is a wonderful premise for a web series. My initial draft for this film was nearly 387 pages. With these varied characters and the wonderful life that I have led, we can spin really interesting stories.

How much pressure do you feel as a filmmaker/director to deliver to audiences’ demands?
I feel writers/ directors should never worry about audiences. You either have an innate sense of storytelling or you don’t. If you do, you just go by that. I think audiences are a by-product of good storytelling and not the intention.

What can we expect next from you?
I’m developing a web series as well as few scripts. In fact, THMS itself lends to a wonderful web series with such a varied bunch of characters, as I said. But I’m looking for writers; people who can write sensible stuff outside the Bollywood framework in an interesting and mature manner. Themes of people and characters always interest me more than just plots. thanks Milind Dhaimade for taking the time to talk to us.