Washington Post recently had an article, “WFH makes you lonely? Phone a friend.” I picked up a couple of nuggets from that article. It mentions options. The first is being in the office with other people, 9 to 6 every day, the second option is being miserable and alone in a small apartment. The moment I read it, I connected with the last movie I saw on Amazon Prime a couple of weeks back.
To me, music is a reverie that allows me to prime myself into doing things I love doing best. So when I saw the trailer of the movie ” Sunny” with its background score I was hooked to see the movie. A moving reminder of the second option which I mentioned above with the cult dialogue, ” Do you know what happens when one loses hope?”
After seeing the movie I ventured to see Baradwaj Rangan’s comments. His take on the movie left me with an idea to delve deeper into what are my lessons from Sunny which I codified as sunny days.
The movie reminded me of 2020, “the year of solitude.” I had written about my experiences of being confined in a box through my old blogs. So when I was seeing Sunny (the protagonist) in that movie in that apartment I was seeing a part of me. It’s very rare that I see a movie trailer and decide to watch a movie instantly. There was something inside me that evoked a response. So through that movie and the above review and the articles that came along, I was trying to find out what was that connection. Hindustan Times reviewed it as below
Jayasurya plays Sunny, who has just returned to Kerala from Dubai. On the way to the hotel where he must quarantine for two weeks, he burns his passport, making us wonder if all’s well with him. He checks into the luxury suite of the hotel and soon starts drowning himself in alcohol. As we get to spend more time with Sunny, the sole character of the movie except for a few fleeting appearances by others, we get to learn about his problems – his marriage is on the verge of collapse, he owes a lot of money to his business partner. To top it all off, the isolation takes a toll on his mental health. He starts having suicidal thoughts and the rest of the story is about how he battles his inner demons and emerges a reformed man.
Here is my take on some of those three fascinating scenes.
- Sunny gets a call from Police station asking him if he needs a psychotherapist? He was consulting a psychotherapist and as the days go by he feels good about himself through those interactions with the doctor. So his response is to continue with the same Doctor. After a deep pause he hears that Doctor is no more. He cries madly.
- Sunny is tested Covid positive and he has to leave for the hospital. He goes to the balcony and sees the shawl and plant. In an instant I thought he would take both with him. He leaves the place empty handed.
- Sunny locks an ant with his drinking glass and compares his life with the ant.
I liked the movie and analysed it using a framework I picked from Michael Hauge. It is called the storytelling essentials and there are 9 of them in this framework. I also tried to map my days of solitude in 2020 with the movie:
- Hero – I could identify with the hero. I am an avid traveller and being locked in for 68 days in 2020 had moments when I had to vent out my frustration. There are two kinds of struggles we go through in life. One is “there is a problem” and second is fear. I had both.
- Set Up – The setup in the movie has a scene where he burns his Passport. Just before the lockdown I had written about making some routine changes in my life in the journal and I had decided to embrace a new habit so there was an internal flame.
- Empathy – There were three components. Sympathy , Jeopardy and likeability. Sunny had his close friend always on the call , a neighbour staying one level up and the Doctor. I experienced all forms of empathy thanks to professional friends , family and social groups.
- Opportunity / Crisis / Tipping Point – Something must happen as they say in stories , a rising action and in the movie it was the death of the psychiatrist. pressure from the debtors , a friend leaving from the upper floor of the apartment and wife leaving. I had moments of despair when one of my favourite uncles passed away last year. I was of the opinion that I cannot get up early in the morning and go to sleep early.
- Goal – Was there any depth and meaning in the character? Hero was struggling to live without fear and buidling courage. I had to put a routine of getting up early in the morning , exercising, following a proper diet and getting good sleep to set a goal for myself during those days.
- Conflict – Hero was constantly in tussle with his old identity of a loser. Wounds and beliefs of the past always hounded him. I learned that it is a question of ” our essence” that matters. I got the opportunity to keep posting blogs every week irrespective of the conflicts which was the breakthrough I wanted to ignore those kind of limiting beliefs.
- Climax – I liked the climax where he gets a call from his wife and it made him look at the world with hope. For me it was the day to day interactions with family and how we started looking at the nuances.
- Atermath – ” Your child wants to see you” was the dialogue that sealed the scene. The hero’s wife was giving him a second chance. Post lockdown I found that I have developed a lot of gratitude for simple things in life like helping my wife clear the dishwasher , making the bed in the morning and thanking my daughter for making coffee for us.
- Transformation – Alcohol was just an alibi for him and he finally apologises to his wife for his mistakes . The circumstances changed and thanks to the journey of the hero as he got transformed internally. Today, my morning routines of meditation , journaling and walking are the byproducts of the transformation I went through.
As somebody wrote in the comment section of Baradwaj Rangan’s review, “Protagonist comes to the hotel as covid negative and all negativity in his life, he leaves the hotel as covid positive and with all the positivity in life“
My definition of Sunny days is the inner transformation of one man in one space in a hopefully once in a lifetime period. Sunny Days is a culmination of surprise, curiosity, rejection, anticipation and change. Sunny is a story about a man’s victory over his fears and self-discovery. Sunny is a person just like us. So the lesson I learned from Sunny days is what Scott Young put in nicely “Your best moments won’t come from getting a reward but from expanding the possibilities for your life“.