Stories are meant to be simple no matter what bells and whistles they come with.
The film is in black & white, it uses a split screen technique and is a talkie. But even with all these “bells and whistles”, director Sudhish Kamath‘s Good Night | Good Morning has a simple story behind it.
This indie offering in English revolves around Turiya (Manu Narayan) and Moira (Seema Rehmani) who spend an entire New Year’s night talking to each other on the phone. What’s so unique about that? They’re strangers who met each other just for a minute or two at a pub. In that span of a few hours, both of them relive their life, especially their relationships, going through the motions of one themselves, turning over a new leaf at the end.
For a talkie film to work, it is imperative that the writing has to be strong, which is what Shilpa Rathnam and Kamath’s writing does achieve. The dialogues involve quite a bit of innuendo, but also a lot of heart-talk. And the best part is it seems natural; it does not seem acted, and that’s a huge plus. The language is simple youth-speak laced with a lot of pop cultural references. There’s Cameron Crowe (whom Kamath describes as “the single-most significant cinematic influence” in his life), Before Sunrise (which this film shares the template with) and Kuch Kuch Hota Hain, which is given a 21st century twist. The two protagonists are well-sketched, with Moira’s character being the stronger one and one of the better female characters I’ve seen in recent times.
Manu Narayan as Turiya charms you with his innocence. He acts out his naive character well. But it is Seema Rehmani as Moira who steals the show. Someone give this woman some more roles please! She makes you laugh, she makes you cry, she seduces you, and more. Turiya’s friends have a minimal role, but Vasanth Santosham as Hussain and renowned film critic Raja Sen as the druggie J.C. punctuate the conversation with their friendly banter.
This is director Kamath’s second indie film (after That Four-Letter Word) and he sure has a penchant for making scenes memorable. The scene where a younger and much geeky Turiya tries to hook up with a girl online will leave you in splits. The flashback which reveals Moira’s past is also moving, helped by the fact that it is set to a wonderful instrumental rendition of Silent Night.
With regards to the adornments, the split screen works fine; it doesn’t distract as the writing truly works. The few scenes in colour were unnecessary, the black & white works its old-world magic well enough. The jazz music utilised throughout the film adds to the charm.
And yet, all is not hunky-dory. The editing could have been smoother, especially when Kamath intersperses Moira’s scenes with that of the sea. The sound editing and mixing could have been better too. In the second half of the film, one could heard slight feedback when the characters would speak.
And yet, it is a well-made film. Because of the good writing and smart performances, it should be lauded. Rarely does cinema of such kind (and quality) come out of India.
Towards the end, there is a scene wherein Turiya plays and sings along to Presley’s Pocketful Of Rainbows on his car stereo with his friends Hussain and J.C. joining in. During this moment of boisterousness, the camera lingers on Moira, the Moira who has rediscovered how to be happy, how to have fun, as she jumps on her bed, moving to the song and eventually pitching in at the chorus.
The conversation has been had | new memories have been made | Let them weather this storm with a pocketful of rainbows | before, into the darkness, they fade.
P.S.: I happened to see an alternate end to the film too. More than an alternate end, I’d say it is an extension of where the film actually ended and would have been the icing on the cake had it been added as a post-credits scene.
Written by Runcil Rebello.