Posts Tagged ‘Indie’

Indie Bhindi

Posted: June 15, 2014 by moifightclub in cinema
Tags: ,

INDIE BHINDI

(Disclaimer : Some patience as this is long and because not every Indie film follows the crisp and tested 3 act structure. Nor every film gets to it’s conflict very quickly and I make sure is it not fast paced or laced with dynamic songs and dramatic situations, the only Indie tools used here is RAW writing, cuss words, unconventional grammar, spelling mistakes and refusing to cut unnecessary material that’s not a part of the story. Why am I writing this? Fuck knows!)

Lot of us here are the children of the 90s. Fed on some privileged liberal Door Darshan censorship days, VHS tapes and the good old Single Screen Cinema Halls. We have also been privileged to be a part of the worst times of Cinema in India and have also seen the post 70s hollow, hopeless middle class languish till Internet hit us.

In 1989 mainstream Cinema halls had yet another South Superstar make his attempt at Bollywood but beyond that another guy changed a lot for mainstream audiences. Ram Gopal Verma. The languishing non-South Bombay middle-class suddenly found a voice. It was making some sounds but nothing audible or palpable. Maybe after repeatedly losing mainstream validations in 1995 with Rangeela and in 1998 with Satya he became a bitter man and lost his way. Who knows? Who cares now? We all moved on. We had to.

Then there were these classes. North Bombay, South Bombay, Central Bombay, all finding various reasons to validate their cultural significance and how the other is spoiling the fabric. Then again there was the Small Town, Small City, Big Town and Big City bickering that was throwing shit at each other blaming it’s the “OTHER GUY” who is fucking it up not us.

The fight in all this was to come to Bombay and make that film we all dreamt we should be making. The 40s and the partition shaped the 50s – 60s of Cinema , the Emergency and Indira Gandhi in many ways lead to the late 70s being what it was and with the Mills closing in the 80s and the underworld and unemployment on the rise, it fucking changed it all. Disparity, black money, blood money and also Dawood’s brother trying his hand at lyrics writing in some Bollywood movie. How insignificant a point is that, Exactly that it what it was. A joke. But on the other hand it is also now is a treasure of some fantastic B-Movies where the Roger Corman’s of India slummed films out in a week or two.
the raven
The 90s, our most vivid memories of Jhankar beats and the rise of NRI fluff. Till this time there were the film literate and the NFDC who were very quietly in a non-media savvy way commissioned some films. No one ranted. No one thought anything was unfair.
Somewhere around 5-6 years into the new Millennium when the Internet was being discovered for a little more than just porn, some angsty filmmaker started ranting. And I am so bloody sorry all references to anything new goes back to him, but you like it or not, it somewhere started there.

2014 ! BOOM ! What the FUCK happened? A word INDIE being drilled in. It sounded accessible with technology and economics supporting this. Anyone could push the record button without going through the BOLLYWOOD DRILL. I did too.

Of course things changed but the” other guy” fucking it up shit is of course there. The small town, big town, small daddy, big daddy, small Indie orphan, Big Indie Daddy. They are still on. One often forgets the freedom the digital medium has given us is not necessarily a tool to override the idea of finding an audience. It only says you can make a film not you can show it and make money. If only finding an audience was the pure noble purpose all films would have been on Youtube or Vimeo.

Indie or otherwise films cost and everyone who has made movies on borrowed capital needs to pay back. Just like to counter the big manufactures and the huge industries some bright people made some pretty unessential tools and marketed them in innovative ways. We know them as infomercials and some more recognise it as the “main bahut pareshan tha” dubbed voice.

The Indie scene too seems like this space now. We need not set up huge factories but we can make machines. For whatever the utility being there is a space. Some made “post its” and some “ad rollers” and some “hair curlers”. All built in the great spirit of innovation and engineering. Some work some don’t and some are not even considered to be a part of the great Infomercial parade.

Similarly new and stubborn ideas need to burst out in the form of movies too. Big Networks pump in all the monies to eventually get wider distribution and extensive screenings to make sure, immaterial of the content the weekend is a money spinner. Their method and order has been formed after years of brain storming and study by moviemakers, con-artists, middlemen and businessmen. Some genuine artists too sporadically contributed unassumingly but since “they” knew it was more the exception than the thumb they ignored. They know their game. They knew when an old horn commissions “A” project she/he knows what they are getting into.

Then in a scenario where anyone can hit the record button and slam their doors. The doors were too Big and Strong to break. Maybe with the technology the commissioning barrier has been broken but distribution? Distribution is not to fulfil any artistic aspirations. Distribution as a fundamental is only for economic gains. The crowd at the doors grew exponentially, a few sneaked in. Some dehydrated with all the banging, some were given a backdoor.

sandhi sudha

Just like the infomercials if you cannot play your product during the IPL on Prime Time go for the afternoon hours. That was the same slot given to most innovations. “Main bahut pareshan tha”, no one saw. Sadly the more ideologically driven films rise pertinent questions and don’t give solutions really. It does not say you’ll grow hair or your teeth will sparkle or you will develop six pack abs. All it says is (mostly) this is the place we live in and this is the truth or rather my honest perspective. Who the FUCK wants the truth, we need HOPE. In most cases were the reality is presented harshly as the maker felt that she/he can express himself as she/he wants, the ”INDIE” perishes even without an Indie sympathizers glowing review.

What they are essentially saying is ideas can be limited to looking low end without songs but at least say it’s not that bad, the world we live in that is. At least say Green Tea will reduce cholesterol and has no fat. OK, we agree don’t say all people look good and wear high fashion but at least say old people also have a chance at love. Some geniuses with bad aesthetics and the same old story to say and who suck at that too also sneaked into with their INFOMERCIAL. PHOTO-BOMBED! So other than the usual distribution and other expression hassles INDIE was being Photo Bombed too.

In the ever-crowing space the smaller gate to the bigger distribution gate got stuffed. Any space that gets stuffed gives rise to the MIDDLEMAN. Many will claim, many will depend, many will get conned. Safe guard your film. Safeguard yourself. If you were stubborn enough to make the film, be strong enough to knock the door straight, the sound will reach. If you have the courage and innovation you don’t need a middle man.

Then many forget no one is saying you are my angel, the Kashmiri apple of my eye, I have all the money to spend and launch you like star sons as I am now a star Independent Orphanage. No one asked Arun Bhaiyya from Mr. India as to why he did not adopt 50 more children. Areee aab to wo formulaaaaaaa bhi mil gaya, then why the fuck leave us out. No, because Mr. India’s story ends with Mongabo being killed, post that who knows what happened.

mr india
But post the 5Ds and the Black Magic 4Ks being launched everyone who hit the record button wants to know what Arun Bhaiyya will do for them. But many forget Arun Bhaiyya made his own choices and decisions and did what he had to, he found his way and many have to find their own way and become their own Mr. Indias. Maybe he killed his Mogambo and moved on. He never set out to kill Mogambo till he was being evicted from his house. It was a personal fight and not a public one.

Again we come back to the “OTHER GUY” fucking it up. He got the formula so he has become the high priest and has left us alone? Lets fuck him! Lets break his gadget and make him visible! Lets not find our own formula. Because the opponent is not the DISTRIBUTION network we have to crack but the one who was with us on this side of the door is now on the other. He is the traitor as we need company to stand outside and not the inspiration to become the person who walks through that door.

I am on the other side of the door too knocking. Still knocking hard. I am tired too. But now I am going back and have resolved to learn how to knock better with my material and not with Mr. India holding my hand.

As most Indie films also have abrupt endings, I take that liberty too here. I will not round of characters and find no resolutions. It’s a bleak one here, lot of people lose and perish. Even more play spit ball and spit at the other guy. The only difference being I am not too thrilled with my last draft. I’ll try and improve, I’ll go better prepared this time and knock it better. If I fail this time too, I’ll go back and do it all over again. And for the “OTHER GUY” who fucks it up always. I wish him good. He is trying hard too and not really floating in heaven with all privileges. Maybe he has a bigger house and a new Apple gadget, nothing more. He has to knock the door too if not bang it like us now.

– by Vasan Bala

(Vasan’s debut feature Peddlers premiered at Cannes Film Festival in International Critics Week and his latest script Side-Hero is selected for Sundance Lab)

(ps – pics added for some dramatic effect. Not sure if he endorses them. We are the culprits for the pics)

 

TOWPOS2(COMP)

Few months back, we had put a post on “The Other Way“, a film by Aniket Dasgupta and Swathy Sethumadhavan documenting the indie filmmaking scene in India, and they were trying to raise funds for it through crowd-funding. Good news is they have managed to raise the funds for it and have just released its first look.

I have always felt that we have a terrible record when it comes to documenting our cinema and the stories surrounding them. A film like this one, Dungarpur’s Celluloid Man, Jaideep Varma’s film on Sudhir Mishra – we need many more such docus.

So check out the first look.

To know more about the film, click here and to read about he making of the film, you can click here for their blog.

 

With every independent film release, we hear the same questions again and again – why are the tickets priced so high? Why there are no shows in my city? Why there’s no show at my time of preference? It’s always the story from our side. So here’s Shiladitya Bora of PVR Director’s Rare telling us the story from the other side. And the bigger question – why haven’t we seen a breakout indie in a long time? Are we just making indies and not the good ones? (Maybe we need to learn it from the French on how to do this. More here). Over to him.


I am a film programmer.

I earn my livelihood by handpicking independent films for theatrical release.

As a part of my job, I receive, on an average, 3-4 independent feature film submissions/requests every week. Out of these 12-16 films we receive every month, about 90-95% films are very bad and do not even deserve a release on DVD-release, forget theatrical release.

With the advent of digital technology, making an independent film has almost become child’s play. So this 90-95% films that I refer to, are mostly experiments by amateurs in the digital medium. They record footage that is more than 60 minutes in length and feel they have made a feature, and a theatrical release is their birth right.

If every man with a video camera is Steven Spielberg, then I am surely Harvey Weinstein. But, then, I am not.

The remaining 5% of indies that make the cut, they get a small theatrical window in the form of a limited release in selected cities.

Now, an indie getting a limited release does not imply that it is the next best thing to happen after Citizen Kane, all it means that…

1. It is one of the better ones of what is available

2. There is a little bit of awareness of the film

3. It simply got lucky

4. It is backed with very strong recommendation. This may sound unfair but this is how the world functions. Otherwise, how do you think some of the disastrous films make it to the prestigious festivals?

And then, there are some genuinely good indie films that are unlucky.

What I consider my biggest failure was not being able to get a show for Kshay at a regular multiplex in Delhi during its theatrical run.

If Good Night Good Morning was made with Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra, it would have been a super-hit. This doesn’t mean that Seema Rahmani and Manu Narayan are any less talented but this is how things are.

In addition to the above, there is one more type of indie films in our country.

These are made by people who started their careers as members of the crew/technicians and finally graduated into directing. Such indies mostly have known cast, technically and quality wise also are superior to the first timers, and when it comes to release, they generally get more number of shows than the others.

Now the big question is
..

How many shows per day a multiplex should give to an independent film?

If we go by the thumb rule of any business – that profit making should be the primary objective of the business –  indies should NOT get a single show in multiplexes.

A mainstream film will any day earn more than an indie programmed at the same slot. Then why do multiplexes take initiatives to showcase indie cinema even by incurring losses?

The answer is corporate Social Responsibility. It’s a way of saying thanks to your ecosystem. It’s a goodwill gesture. Most of the independent filmmakers whom I have interacted with, they all loathe the mainstream, but one thing we all fail to realize is that indies can even think of getting a theatrical release only because multiplexes earn their revenues from the mainstream.

Now, let’s have a look of the costs involved in running one show at a multiplex in Mumbai irrespective of whether one person is sitting inside or a houseful show.

1. Mall Rental Charges

2. CAM – Common Area Maintenance charges

3. Electricity Charges

4. Xenon Lamp charges – this is calculated on the average life of the projector lamp

5. Human resource costs

6. Miscellaneous costs – this may include the huge volume of complimentary tickets that needs to be given to law enforcing agencies every month for running a multiplex.

In addition to the above we should also note the 31.03% applicable tax (Mumbai) on Gross Box Office (45% of Net Box Office receipts).

As per the data available, the occupancy percentage for the best performing/well-known indie films is not more than 25%, making screening of indies a direct loss making proposition for multiplexes.

The setting up of a multiplex is a highly CAPEX driven business and tax rebate/holiday is given as in the case of other infrastructure based industries.

The main idea is to attract investors/foster entrepreneurship and I am not very sure how much valid a reason it is to demand a dedicated auditorium showing indie cinema only.

Initiatives to support the cottage film industry of the country should be voluntary decisions and demanding it from corporates who are already doing their bit, seems unfair. I am sure we do not want reservations in our highly talent-driven film industry.

The next big question : Is there a scope of dedicated theatres screening independent films only?

To be honest, I do not have an answer to the same right now. The answer lies in finding the latent demand for indies. Instead of emotionally supporting anything that sounds like a rebel, sometimes without a cause, we need figures to arrive at an answer.

How many DVDs of independent films actually sell? How many legal and torrent downloads? How many actual tickets sell when these films get a limited theatrical release?

What needs to be our primary focus is how to make good/great indies. This is where we are lacking the most. Films that breakout through important international festivals, win awards and accolades which will automatically lead to buyers in other countries too. Crack that code and we will survive here too. Still in doubt? Scroll up and read the French link again.

Shiladitya Bora manages Director’s Rare, a PVR initiative to promote Independent Cinema.

Pic Courtesy – Independent Film Festival of Boston 2009

 

 

 

 

The Other Way – Its a film by Aniket Dasgupta and Swathy Sethumadhavan who are documenting the indie filmmaking scene in India. The feature length documentary aims to understand the various facets of an independent filmmaker and attempts to capture the passion that drives these new wave filmmakers to work out of the mainstream film industry.

And in a country where we don’t have much culture of documenting our cinematic history, this seems to be going in the right direction. More so because in the last 4-5 years the way we are making films, it has changed drastically. Filmmaking has moved beyond the domain of counted few and “indie” is being redefined with new filmmakers rewriting the rules.

Aniket and Swathy have already interviewed some of the indie voices and filmmakers like Srinivas Sunderrajan, Onir, Vasan Bala, Sandeep Mohan, Qaushiq Mukherjee (Q), Sudhish Kamat, Shiladitya Bora among others. More interviews are also on schedule and will be shot in the coming months.
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The documentary is mostly self-financed but since the makers of the film are students (of Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication), they are also trying to raise a part of the budget through Wishberry’s crowd funding platform. Contributors get certain perks in return depending on the amount they contribute.
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They have already raised more than Rs.47,000 out of there goal of Rs.80,000 on Wishberry and have JUST 3 Days left to raise the rest. Your contribution will take them one step closer to reaching their goal.
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So what are you waiting for? Click here and help them make the film.
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Not convinced yet that you are not going to waste your money? They do have a teaser from what they have shot so far. Click on the play botton and have a look.
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—> Link to the facebook page: http://facebook.com/TOWFilm
—> Link to the production blog: http://behindtow.tumblr.com/
—-> Link to the crowdfunding page:  http://wishberry.in/Help-us-make-The-Other-Way–13763

In her twitter bio, Svetlana Naudiyal describes herself as Murphy’s favourite child. So over to the child who is just back from a country where there is almost no cinema culture and she was trying to make them understand what is the point of a film festival. Back to India and here’s her recco of the film Kshay, which has been doing the rounds of film festivals since quite sometime.

There is no local popular cinema in the theaters. The only theaters are the ones in the malls. From malls to pirated dvd stores – all you’d prominently see is Hollywood. I’ve just returned from Cebu City, so to say, the second largest city in Philippines. The townesque city is burgeoning with Malls, Multiplexes, BPOs and all possible American Chains. The city glistens, roads are well done, cab drivers never say no and their peso is better placed against dollar than the rupee. In this seemingly ‘developing’ state of affairs, local cinema has no ground beneath its feet. I get to meet a few Cebuano Filmmakers and see their films. Great work and talented, no doubt! But what do they do?

Cut to – my country, my crazy cinephile country.

Here back home, I see Kshay on the big screen, and I am moved by the mere thought that here someone can not only make the film they want to but also hope that it would see the light of theatrical release someday.

But is that why you should support it? Just because someone really struggled to make an Indie film and then eventually managed to get it to the box office?

——

Kshay, as the very poetic title suggests, corrodes.

Corrodes the being.

Chhaya, a simple housewife, becomes strangely obsessed with an unfinished idol of Goddess Lakshmi. Her husband, Arvind, works for a reckless building contractor and struggles to make ends meet while reeling under the guilt of not being able to give Chhaya the life he promised to. Their lives are thrown in a downwards spiral as Chhaya slowly becomes oblivious of their circumstance and succumbs to faith turned into obsession.

It is not often that the frames and sequences of a film hover in your mind for long after you see it. They corrode the mind, resonate with life and create a surreal-real world of obsession, hopelessness and love. It’s beautiful how the textures, lights and score accentuate the psychological corrosion of Chhaya. Together with Arvind’s frustrations and the hopelessness a viewer sees in their situation, the film builds a strange tempo as it progresses; it might not be evident in the pace but most certainly so in the feeling it leaves one with.

Shot in black and white, the cinematography by Abhinay Khoparzi, is highlight of the film. The eerie absurdity of dreams, delusions, reality and the textures, all stand out in black & white frames. The background score is by director Karan Gour himself is the perfect companion to it. Rasika is unbelievably real as Chhaya and beautifully brings out her pain, coldness, obsession; Alekh complements her as much in portraying Arvind’s frustrations, hope and hopelessness. Even the small roles of building contractor and neighbour lady, are marked by really fine performances.

To me, story apart, Kshay also questions – questions faith, questions reason and questions the merciless set up we live in. It’s a world where WTC crash becomes table-top merchandise.. Exploiters continue to have their cake and eat it too.. Exploited barely find a way.. It’s a world of faith becoming obsession and obsession ending only in….

Coming back to the question – Don’t watch it because it’s another oh-so-poor-striving-for-support indie film, watch it because it’s good cinema, that totally deserves your time and money.

———————————————————————————–

– Here’s a preview of Kshay’s hauntingly gorgeous music –

Kshay OST – Home

Kshay OST – Everywhere

– And the trailer

– To know more about the film click here. And click here for the FB page of the film.

– PVR JUHU (Mumbai) will have one show running in the next week at 6:35PM. Don’t miss this one!

– And if our recco isn’t enough to convince you, here are some more reviews – Namrata Joshi of Outlook rates it 3.5/4, Karan Anshuman (Mumbai Mirror) has rated it 3.5/5 and Aseem Chhabra (Rediff) has also given it 3.5/5.

We haven’t seen the film. Don’t have much clue about the filmmaker also. So, over to Innuendo’s director Arvind Kamath for all the details. And if you are interested, you can help him and his film.

ABOUT ME – I always wanted to be a part of films as long as I can remember, but was stuck in an IT job and after 9 years of being in IT, I finally quit to get into filmmaking fulltime in Feb 2011. Couldn’t afford a fulltime Filmmaking course, so I started my filmmaking stint in 2008 where I started with attending workshops, (cinematography, writing, Editing etc) then graduated to making a few short films – one short was among the top ten films of 2010 PFC One film festival (here) & another one which I co-wrote won the 2nd place (here), which gave me the courage to do more. So I went on to organize the 2009 Bangalore Screenwriting Workshop which was a huge learning experience and then started making documentaries, corporate films etc.

In Feb 2011, when I quit my job, I setup a small edit suite and started taking post production orders which is my bread without butter today. So all these years while learning, I also wrote many concepts and scripts, some trash worthy, some forgettable and a very few that I was still excited about. I took up one such screenplay which took me 1.5 years to write and Innuendo was born. More of my self indulgent rant is here.

THE PROCESS – Initially I bounced this idea of making Innuendo to a couple of my close friends and they brushed it off thinking it’s just the initial excitement of a struggler. But I announced the project of FB and called for a script narration to people who would be interested to join me. Folks from the Bangalore Indie/aspiring film circle came down. My offer to them was “I can’t pay you any money & I want to make this film with the Rs 50,000 that I have, so join me only if you like the script or connect with my passion somewhere because it’s a lot of slogging for nothing in return really, and if at all the film makes any money in any form I shall share it with you all”. Some wonderful people started signing up, most of them were experienced. One of my closest friends & a very talented chap Bharath MC came aboard. You can see some of his work here.

He was to do the camera, background score, sound, VFX and co-edit the film with me. ADs with experience in few short films which have done the festival rounds, signed up as production controller, location Manager, art director, casting coordinator and sync sound recordist. Once the team was set, we called for an audition and got a decent response of 300 profiles on email and finally 60 people showed up at the auditions. We had our 20 actors selected from a pool of talented young TV/theatre actors active in Indie/short film circle.

ACTORS – Sanjeev & Sruthi went on to do a commercial Malayalam film called “Cinema Company” which will release this year and had done another Indie from Bangalore called “Kya Yaaron”, which will also release soon. Adithi too was a part of “Kya Yaaron” and is now in Mumbai working on a film with a very well-known and talented young director (I’m not supposed to divulge the details). Monish, Khuldeep, Naveen are some of the well known names in the Bangalore theatre circle. We had 2 days of acting workshop and 2 weeks of rehearsals along with a lot of pre-production work like location recce, art framework, shot breakdowns (3 versions of it), sourcing equipments or building them on our own, scheduling the shoot etc etc.

A team of 35 members started the shoot on September 9th and completed it in non-stop schedule of 25days with 3 more days scattered here and there. Then we started post production in the month of November and finished it in April. The film was screened on 21st & 22nd of April for a private audience on an invite only basis & a review by a Cinephile can be read here.

THE CHALLENGES – We too faced our fair share of challenges like every other Indie film. DOP calling in sick with typhoid just 2 days before the shoot, crucial locations which took time due to budget constraints, actors issues due to long hours of shoot, food issues when we were shooting in the middle of nowhere, cop issues during night shoots, health issues due to long schedules sometime 2days and nights continuously and all that jazz.

WHERE ARE WE NOW – We have completed the film and had 2 private screenings to get an initial feedback. Now aiming to send the film to a few festivals and see where it goes and also travel with the film to Chennai & Mumbai in the month of June to have a private screening for filmmakers, Bloggers, Cinephiles, Indie filmmakers circle, aspiring filmmakers and others.

WHAT SUPPORT ARE WE LOOKING FOR – I am looking for venues in Chennai & Mumbai which is cost effective so that I can bring my film there in the month of June. Anybody who could help us with venues which are cheap or free, that would be great. Also, I have created an online fund raising campaign on Indiegogo to raise money to help us send the film to festivals, which is our first benchmark and priority. If we make more money than necessary for festivals, I shall pay my cast & crew and settle the vendor bills.

DETAILS
Synopsis: – A single mother wanting to rekindle her relationship with her teenage son, trying hard to bridge the gap times have created. A failed writer trying to revive his creativity amidst external and internal conflicts. A group of friends meeting up for a celebration and end up trying to revive an unexpected situation. And how these characters cross paths willingly or unwillingly forms the storyline of the film. This film is an introspective take on life the way it is. It’s about communication issues, creative obsession & self destructive motives.

Genre – Drama

Duration – 125 minutes (festival ready cut)

Language – English & Kannada with bits of(Tamil & Hindi)

Format – Digital (HD)

Budget – Rs 44,700 (spent on production mainly, without paying anybody)

Writer, Editor, Producer & Director – Arvind Kamath

Co-Editor, Sound Designer, vfx & DOP – Bharath MC

Background Music – Bharath MC & Aveer Thakur

Crew – Madan, Kiran, Vishwesh, Prince, Poojitha, Supritha & Kempraju

Principal cast – Sanjeev Nair, Adithi Kalkunte, Kenneth Sebastian, Anjana Ajith, Monish Nagaraj, Khuldeepak & Naveen Kumar J

On IMDB.  On Facebook.

Indiegogo fund raiser campaign page is here.

OTHER LINKS

An experiment called Innuendo – Rediff

The Reel Mag interview is here.

Coverage on Madaboutmoviez, LongLiveCinema and Indieturf.

We were bit clueless about how to approach this film. Sudhish Kamath is a good friend and that means we will do whatever we can to support the release of the film and make it more visible. But how good or bad the film is – that’s a completely different question where friendship has no space. You can be our best friend and make the worst film that we will not endorse publicly. And you might be the biggest dodooth* in the town and deliver the best film which we will happily endorse. Also, to be honest and fair with your friends’ films is quite a difficult task. And while we were in this dharam-sankat, Shubhodeep offered to review it. We were more than happy to share the burden. This is his second post here. To read the first one, click here.

Read on.

The guy introduces himself as Turia to the girl. I wonder aloud what the name means. Indeed, whether it means anything at all. A couple of minutes later, the girl says: “What kind of a name is Turia?” I grin and prepare myself for their night-long conversation.

Sudhish Kamath’s Good Night Good Morning is that kind of a movie. Shot in gorgeous black and white (curiously under-produced at a couple of spots) it surprises, amuses and frequently offers situations and dialogue that resonate with déjà vu. All this in accompaniment to a jazz soundtrack that sweeps across the movie and infuses it with much life.

The story straddles New Year in New York: a time usually defined by merriment and debauchery. Neither element is present as this story begins. He is a hopeless romantic unable to get over a broken relationship. She is, at least on the exterior, a cynic who doesn’t believe in relationships. They both have troubled pasts. Both of them appear to be in need of comforting company. We’ve met both characters before in reel as well as real life; nevertheless, the two occupy these comfortably stereotypical characters with an unexpectedly invigorating freshness. He drunk dials her number while riding in a car with three sloshed friends. What follows is an engaging and witty conversation that almost anyone will identify with. I’m certain the movie had snatches of conversations that I’ve actually had verbatim in “real” life. Love, losing love, the oft-perceived hopelessness and uselessness of relationships, are sensitively articulated in the movie. It’s easy to lose yourself in a melee of your own ruminations once you start thinking with them.

As the movie progressed, I became acutely aware of the two writers at work, weaving their words on a fabric so tenuous as to not exist at all. Writing near-endless lines of dialogue, interspersed with little or no action, can be a forbidding task. Not only have Shilpa Rathnam and Sudhish Kamath managed to veer away from schmaltz, they’ve done a telling job of keeping the pace of conversation mostly even. I remember reading that the screenplay of Richard Linklater’s Before Sunset (which, along with Before Sunrise, is perhaps the best “conversation movie” of the past two decades and is indeed referenced in GNGM as well) were largely written by the two leads, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, who drew on their “real” lives for parts of the story. I might be grossly overstating my case but the writing in GNGM seems to suggest that Messrs Kamath and Rathnam share an affectionate camaraderie that has helped them produce a truly well-written script. The chemistry of their writing shines through in the virtual chemistry of the protagonists.

The only real gripe, and a minor one at that, I have with the movie is that it could so easily have been even more relatable and enjoyable had the writers (and director) chosen to do it Hindi (or even Tamil). Indeed, half-way through the movie I was dreaming up a gloriously fun Hindi movie on the lines of GNGM. Even though the dialogues and situation were overwhelmingly familiar, I found it hard to find any sense of belonging to the boroughs of New York. Perhaps because this is a film by an Indian filmmaker I really pined to see a more “accessible” movie as far as the setting was concerned. Of course, choosing what to make and where is a decision that is best left to the filmmaker, but I feel this movie could have stayed indie and yet explored a more Indian setting precisely because it had the potential to be quite a successful entertainer for the masses.

However, back to the movie. Conversation flows freely in GNGM. The lines are incisive and intelligent – sometimes a bit too intelligent – but never over-smart. That is one of the most enduring virtues of the film. Apart from a few moments that fall prey to kitsch, the dialogues sparkle with vim and wit, throwing in memorable lines now and then: “Long-distance success stories are a work of fiction my boy”. “Stories are meant to be simple.” When the dialogues become laborious, the action cleverly changes to the antics of Turia’s three inebriated companions in the car. It’s curious however that the best lines seem to have been reserved (by design or chance) for Seema Rehmani who occupies, with glorious vitality, a character that has been done to death.

Ms Rehmani does a star turn, outshining her male counterpart and keeps us interested in the movie till the end. Manu Narayan is reliably consistent, and even remarkably good at places, but I wish the script had more for hm. Raja Sen and gang exhibit much promise initially but are eventually let down by the script. They’re efficient in the beginning – with Mr Sen turning in a few sharp lines accompanied by epic expressions magnified by his magnificent tache – but seem to dwindle in importance and utility as the story progresses. Ultimately, their tomfoolery becomes mildly irritating in a movie that stands out due to its consistently winsome glow.

GNGM is not a movie that will make you froth at the mouth with amazement or feel giddy with euphoria. Indeed, that is perhaps its most becoming virtue. It neither wallows in conceit nor lays claim to greatness. Instead, like the rising warmth of a hot cup of coffee, its fingertips will lovingly graze your skin like that of a soulmate and that sensation will linger many hours after you’ve watched it. And like the tender glow of a winter sun descending into the fog, it will lure you into cosying up to it again on a rainy day.

I’m eagerly waiting for that day.

Shubhodeep Pal

The film has been released by PVR Cinemas and is currently showing in Mumbai, Delhi, Gurgaon, Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Chennai.

(PS – If you still haven’t read Sudhish’s now famous rant (The Truth About Films : Ungrateful. F***ing. Bitches), click here.

(PS2 – Karan Johar reviewed the film for Rediff as Raja Sen makes his on screen debut in this one. Click here)

(*doodoth = dodo + ch**th the word has been devised for that rare tribe)