Sunday, January 29, 2012

Good Night | Good Morning is eclectic, engrossing and enchanting

Good Night | Good Morning. Most of us might not even have heard of this independent feature film venture by Sudhish Kamath, a reporter at the Hindu. I have followed the director closely while researching about independent films and filmmakers out of interest and GNGM created quite a stir because it took almost 2+ years to release a simple conversation movie that was shot in a weeks time, the directors heart wrenching story of the plight of indies today and the acclaim it received from various film festivals across the world. The movie finally managed to get hold of some shows at PVRs across the country owing to the PVR Director's Rare initiative. A lot of mainstream critics reviewed it, Karan Johar reviewed it as a challenge, and a lot of media did features on it as a potential breakthrough in commercially releasing independent cinema. The maker was satisfied even after spending a fortune of his earnings on this one but he successfully marketed his film digitally without spending a penny. In terms of art, GNGM is a well made engrossing fare that stays true to its soul despite being derived from many school of thoughts in terms of story, treatment and execution.

GNGM is made as a conversation movie between two strangers who are on a phone call for one whole night on new years eve in New York City. The idea sounds interesting but the feature could get boring if not handled well. Screenwriters Kamath and Shilpa Rathnam make sure to keep you hooked with a lively screenplay that has constant doses of humor and wit. Kamath pays a tribute to Cameron Crowe, Woody Allen and a lot of other stalwarts of the kind of cinema that he has always admired over the years. The film derives from and pays tribute to a large variety of films and filmmakers and spoofs some of our Bollywood ones too. Yet, its none of superficial, sumptuous or schmaltzy. Infact, it comes out as an endearing coming of age journey of two strangers in fast paced execution of 80 minutes. However, I do complain that the screenplay becomes too deep and preachy at times about love, life and more. You like to see the realizations of well-sketched characters but you dont like to see them talk heavy stuff about philosophies of life. But I guess at some point, conversations in real life tend to get there too.

GNGM is treated like a real conversation and has all the essential charms of a soul-wrenching feature. Yet, you feel something is missing in it. Maybe the setting of characters does not work perfectly, maybe the lack of edge of seat moments, maybe the ineffective subplots, maybe just the mood and tone of the climax. I am not sure yet. What it definitely does not miss out on is the performances. Its a hard film and needs competent actors. Manu Narayan and Seema Rehmani perform exceptionally well as the leads and the film essentially rests on their shoulders. They give their heart and soul to characters that are drawn straight out of reality. Seema is a tad bit better than Manu. The side characters dont work for me. The background score and sound loaded with jazz music works perfectly with the mood of the film. Its shot in black and white with some exceptional long shots and good steady camerawork. Most of the other technical aspects are well in place

GNGM is not an abstract art film. Its a fairly engaging and enlightening drama from an independent filmmaker. Definitely deserves to be watched!

Rating - 3/5

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