Sunday is one of those movies that works best when it isn’t trying to tell the story. The premise is interesting: a girl goes out partying on Saturday night and wakes up on Monday morning. It takes her ages to find that she has lost an entire day, during which time she is chased by a cabbie who says she owes her money, and a bunch of goons who want to kill her. She has no recollection of what happened beyond a certain point on Saturday night, which is where the hero (a cop) comes in. The first half sets up the mystery, the second half solves it. Simple, except it isn’t done as well as it could’ve been.
The trouble, I suppose, is with the expectations. With a premise like this, you could do one of two things:
A) Make a screwball comedy that moves at a frenetic pace from one contrivance to another with a wink and a nod to the audience.
B) Make a serious movie where the heroine is on the run from myriad goons and trying to stay alive. Fill it up with dark alleys, close calls and a sinister supporting cast. Sort of like Bourne Identity meets Little Red Riding Hood.
What Sunday does is pick Option A, but execute it without the sort of energy it requires. The result is a half-baked caper which catches fire when the comedy track comes on and goes to sleep otherwise. There is one especially cringe-worthy moment when Arshad Warsi tries to be serious, and a climax that features the most melodramatic acting in the history of the universe. But these blips aside, the pacing is mostly just laboured and soporific.
However, the comic portions do hit the mark most of the time. In this case, that would be Arshad Warsi and Irrfan Khan, with a side order of Ajay Devgan and Mukesh Tiwari. Of the lot, Ajay Devgan impresses the least, but even he provides the occasional chuckle-worthy moment or two. Mukesh Tiwari provides ample support – I suspect the fact that this isn’t a neagtive role has a lot to do with how well it works. Arshad Warsi is his usual reliable self, and Irrfan Khan demonstrates yet again that he can do comedy, and do it damn well indeed. Ayesha Takia, who occupies the center of the film, has some heavy lifting to do. While she isn’t exactly impressive, her natural bubbly charm works well enough for us not to notice.
Like Philip Henslowe says in Shakespeare in Love, “You see – comedy. Love, and a bit with a dog. That’s what they want.” Sunday has all of that, even a bit with a dog. Except, it has a whole lot else. And that, dear friend, has made all the difference.
ps: A word about the movie-watching experience itself. I watched it at the INOX in Nariman Point and the guy seated next to me had this habit of giggling uproariously every time anything even moderately funny happened. Yes, giggling, not laughing. This may be the first and only time I’ve ever laughed at a laugh track.