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'Good Night, Good Morning' - good, but has nothing to say (IANS Movie Review)

Film: 'Good Night, Good Morning'; Cast: Seema Rahmani, Manu Narayan, Raja Sen; Director: Sudhish Kamath; Rating: ***

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Film: 'Good Night, Good Morning'; Cast: Seema Rahmani, Manu Narayan, Raja Sen; Director: Sudhish Kamath; Rating: ***

Every time a film critic dares to make a film and puts money where his words have always been, it's laudatory. For it is the equivalent of your cricket-expert, corporate buddy -- ever-ready with pointers for Sachin -- actually facing a Brett Lee-bouncer.

Because critic or not, like cricket, we all have views about cinema. But very few ever dare to test them. The few who have, like a Francois Truffaut or a Jean-Luc Godard or even Peter Bogdanovich, have changed cinema.

And though 'Good Night, Good Morning' is no '400 Blows' or 'Breathless' or even 'The Last Picture Show', it manages to hold your urban attention to ponder over relationships, even if for a brief moment.

Two complete strangers, who had bumped into each other at a bar, engage in a night-long banter. From nothing, the conversation veers towards relationships and in one night, the two go through the whole life cycle of a relationship from the first hesitant date to romance, break-up, patch-up, so on and so forth.

There are two sides to the film -- the good and the bad. Let's begin with the good. If you suspend your disbelief as is required of you in the darkness of a theatre, it is believable. The two lead actors do manage to portray a good range of emotions required of them. The writing and direction is decent and doesn't indulge in unsavoury gimmicks.

Sadly, it tries to do a Woody Allen and Richard Linklater but fails miserably. It has neither the tragi-comic timing of Allen's cinema nor the depth of Linklater's 'Before Sunrise', from which it takes inspiration.

And though the conversation is witty, managing a few chuckles, it is too literal to offer anything. This would have been fine if it hadn't taken itself too seriously. Sadly, it does!

Next, you wonder as to why on Billy Wilder's and K. Balachander's name (to whom the filmmaker pays respect) is it set in New York when it could easily have been set in say Mumbai, with the boy driving down to Pune.

The only reason that comes to mind, looking at the zillion odd references to everything American - is that the writer knows more about American culture than he does of his own. Or perhaps it is shame.

It thus becomes another desi-dream on the big screen, a low-budget equivalent of a Bollywood film set in Hollywoodland to seem 'global'. Thus in its cinematic politics of becoming a 'feel-good' indie, it is no different from a 'Kuch Kuch Hota Hai', which it spoofs brilliantly.

It misses out on the biggest strengths of indie cinema - the local flavour. Not just for indies, but any cinema with serious aspirations, local is always global. The film thus seems like the work of an ABCD - American Born Confused Desi, only in this case the 'American' is replaced by 'Indian'.

The film becomes an example of a 'globalised' world. Today, most Indians born in its urban towns, raised on a staple diet of American entertainment, are more American than many Americans themselves.

Having said that, one cannot take away the command Sudhish has over both writing and direction. Sadly, presence of form or style can never make up for the lack of content. One only hopes that this brave critic, in his next film, takes up something more real.

K. Balachander Brett Lee

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