wogma rating: Beg or borrow, but do watch (?)
As I walked out of the theatre Good Night Good Morning reminded me of the idea of a one night stand. For many of us, the idea of a stimulating, soul-searching conversation (or alternatively a frivolous repartee) is as exciting as a one-night stand, and the conversation in the film plays out like a verbal night of pleasure; one that you recall with a sigh every now and then. Watch the film to applaud Kamath’s ability (and co-writer Shilpa Rathnam) to make a well-budgeted, stimulating film.Read more
The split screen, black and white poster of Sudhish Kamath’s independent film Good Night Good Morning gives away much about movie than meets the eye. Ofcourse, the obvious ones go first – it’s a film around two people, Turiya (Manu Narayan) and Moira (Seema Rahmani).
You are given two perspectives, an oscillation of conflicting ideas of romance and a conversation that starts at night and ends in the morning. In this gamut of duality, lies the film. It also tears you, as a viewer into two. Should you criticize the film for its flaws and amateurism? Or should you applaud Sudhish Kamath’s ability to stressfully release an independent film in a world where the demand for shiny, bright and rather expensive stars erase a basic sense of plot?
Allow me to discuss both sides of the coin. The film is set in New York on New Year’s night. It had me hooked the minute it spent exactly 30 seconds panning through Times Square. We are immediately introduced to the tone of the film, with a nostalgic jazz background score walking with you into the introduction. It’s a beautiful way to begin the film because it’s this visual romance that is later contested in the conversation that makes the film.
Here Moira (Rahmani) is seated in a bar, alone on New Year’s Eve. She’s defensive and wary of any stereotype coming her way. She meets Turiya (Narayan) and a bunch of his inebriated friends in the bar, after which we immediately cut to her hotel room where she’s talking to Turiya on the phone, who’s driving back to Philadelphia with his friends.
The first few minutes of the conversation (on screen, as the narrative keeps jumping back and forth) are my favorite. It has that awkward undertone where both parties try their hardest to make it sound that the conversation is offhand. You know, the kind of conversation you would have with a stranger, where you justify it to yourself in the name of boredom. Moira is playful and unabashed, whereas Turiya is self-conscious and trying his hardest to make an impression.
What follows is a dialogue-heavy intervention into both their lives. Their notions and ideas of romance slowly unfold – and it beautifully pits you into two confusing boxes. Where do you lie? With Turiya – who in spite of claiming to be a romantic is stuck in a love-less, obsessive rut of his past or with Moira – who claims to have had her share of heartbreaks and still does not give up on the idea of romance?
Most of the film is shown in split screen, where the easy camera presence of both Narayan and Rahmani makes the conversation a pleasant, engaging one. The film attempts to steer away from the monotony by cutting to flashbacks and parodied hypothetical situations that the pair put themselves in to make conversation.
My personal favorite is the film’s spoof of the Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. It’s through these little skits (that are in color, and serve as a pleasant alternative) that we explore the two protagonists’ psyche.
There were some moments in the film however, that could have easily been done away with. For example, Turiya’s friends JC, Hussain and random passed out guy (Raja Sen, Vasanth Santosham) are unnecessary. They try too hard to stand as valid side characters (especially Raja Sen, who’s adorable in parts but his constant cannabis-smile, gets a bit tedious)
It would have been a much more personal and stimulating film had the conversation been between her in the hotel room, and him driving the car alone. The sub-plot of the friends brings the film down, just when you’re deeply getting involved in the momentum of the conversation. The entire angle of Moira’s past, her constant nightmares also drag a bit towards the latter half of the film, and we are told very little about Turiya’s past. It’s a misbalance that can be seen and it is these aspects that give the film an amateur feel.
The conversation that ties Good Night Good Morning could have done with more wit. It should have been the kind of conversation that starts with a crackle and the need to outshine the other to prove yourself of a worthy dialogue. . Such a conversation has the ability to become like a magnifying glass with time – one that makes you plunge into deep recesses of yourself through the medium of another person.
However, as someone who writes about films, I can only imagine the stress level I would be in if I were to make a film of my own. Primarily for this reason, Kamath’s film (he’s also the film critic for The Hindu) should be watched and discussed. It’s the least you could do as a viewer. Though in isolation, Good Night Good Morning is an interesting film, and an extremely fascinating play of a type of conversation that most people have had.
This review is by guest reviewer Swetha Ramakrishnan. Swetha Ramakrishnan is currently living and working in Mumbai. She's a self-confessed film enthusiast and can most likely be found talking to anyone and everyone about popular cinema and her love for SRK. Swetha Ramakrishnan also blogs at http://swetharamakrishnan.blogspot.com/.
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