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Sunday is as much about loneliness and lack of intimacy as about sexuality: Arun Fulara on his debut short

Sunday will be screened on 16 August as part of the upcoming Bengaluru International Short Film Festival being held online this year.

Sukhpreet Kahlon

The short fiction film Sunday, by Mumbai-based writer Arun Fulara, explores desire, sexuality and loneliness as it tracks a middle-aged man, Kamble, who makes his weekly visit to the neighbourhood barbershop, but, as it turns out, he goes there not just for a shave.

The film won the Riyad Wadia award for Best Emerging Indian Filmmaker, instituted by Wadia Movietone, at the 11th edition of the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, which was held online from 22–31 July this year.

Sunday marks the directorial debut of Fulara, an engineer by training. With his interest in literature, music and the arts in general and film in particular, he became editor of the website Jamuura.com. In the course of his work at the website, he met filmmaker Devashish Makhija and worked with him on his acclaimed films Ajji (2017) and Bhonsle (2020).

His involvement in the films from their inception till the end pretty much became a film school for Fulara.

Speaking about the inevitability of making his own film after that, he said, “It was just a matter of time. Working with Devashish significantly moulded the reason for telling stories and that was a very formative influence on my thinking.”

Sunday is a layered narrative about a seemingly mundane activity in a corner of the city that effectively captures the inner feelings of the protagonist. Fulara said, “For me, the film is as much about loneliness and the lack of intimacy as about sexuality. In a sense, it is a mix of a lot of influences. It is even a proper romantic film, that’s the moment the protagonist is having when you see someone you have a crush on. So that was my starting point.”

The filmmaker has also chosen consciously to explore the homosexual desire of a middle-aged man, something that is not often explored in cinema. “The younger people today have the vocabulary to think of their desires in a certain way, but that vocabulary did not exist in the 1980s or the 1990s, where, if you had those desires, you could never really bring them up," Fulara explained.

"You didn’t have examples, role models, parades or pride rallies. You didn’t know better. At least today, there is an idea that something like this exists. They [people] may still not accept it, but at least there is a growing recognition that it’s normal.

"So, the character is also someone who has lost out, he was probably born 20 years too early, so that just makes it that much sadder.”

The self-funded film was made with a small team and has been travelling around the world festival circuit.

The Indian premiere of the film took place at the Kashish festival and while some viewers reached out to Fulara on social media after the screening, it was a very different experience from a regular festival screening with the interaction and engagement with the audience.

"It would have been much more fun to watch [the film] on the big screen with the audience," Fulara said, "but maybe more people may eventually watch the film because it’s available across a broader geography [through virtual festivals]."

Sunday will be screened on 16 August as part of the 10th edition of the Bengaluru International Short Film Festival (BISFF) which is also being held online this year.

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