Good Night Good Morning

Love, heartbreak & a phone call…

Good Night Good Morning; Source: Wikipedia

“I used to believe in love or Santa, but then you grow up…” says Moira. “What’s Christmas without Santa?” asks Turiya. Sudhish Kamath’s (director, producer) Good Night Good Morning is not your usual film but is more like a piece of conversation you become a part of; except you stay silent and just watch the lead pair talk. It is romantic, heart breaking, funny and a refreshingly entertaining film that reminds you of Richard Linklater’s beautiful films, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. Despite the plot similarity, where two perfect strangers start talking and fall in love, Kamath’s film is quite different in treatment.

Good Night Good Morning (GNGM) is smartly written (Kamath & Shilpa Rathnam) and holds your attention through its eighty-one minute run time. The starkness of black and white frames, the split screens and the wonderful use of music make the film even more interesting and engaging. It opens with the shots of New Year’s Eve celebrations in Times Square, New York and quickly moves to the setting that stays throughout – a hotel room with a single woman in transit and four drunken men driving from NYC to Philadelphia. The rest of the film follows the all-night phone conversation between the girl, Moira and one of the four guys, Turiya. In a film that only has two people talking, you require actors who can make it look effortless and GNGM’s stars, Seema Rahmani and Manu Narayan excel in their parts.

Coming back to the clever writing, GNGM delves into many issues and questions that plague modern relationships; some in a serious way and some in a light-hearted manner. If you’ve ever fallen in love or have been in a relationship, you’re bound to find something personal there.

Not the usual Bollywood or even Hollywood fare, GNGM is an excellent film that transcends boundaries and is truly international cinema; kudos to PVR Director’s Rare, for giving it a mainstream release in January this year. The film is no longer running in the theatres but you can watch it on DVD; it is available at leading stores and online.

– Shrey Khetarpal

Teen Kanya | Tagore Stories on Film

DVD Recommendation and Film Review

Satyajit Ray’s Teen Kanya

Around a hundred films have been made in different languages on Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore’s literary work. The sad part is that a lot of films are either lost or their prints are in a rundown state; in addition there is low awareness around these cinematic gems amongst the movie-goers today. Thankfully, NFDC (National Film Development Corporation) is working towards the restoration of these films. On the occasion of Tagore’s 150th birth anniversary, NFDC in association with the Government of India has launched a collectors’ edition, DVD box set of films based on his work.  The audio-video is digitally restored and the six DVDs are packed in an attractive box set with an informative booklet on Gurudev’s work. Priced at only Rs. 399, it is available at all leading music/video stores and online stores such as Flipkart (which also has a discount).

Teen Kanya - The Postmaster; Reliance Big Entertainment

The pack contains five movies and two documentaries made by filmmakers like Satyajit Ray, Tapan Shah, Hemen Gupta and Kumar Shahani. The films are in Bengali or Hindi and come with English subtitles. I confess that I was equally ignorant of these treasures but now I am a proud owner of this commemorative set; and plan to watch a lot more movies based on Tagore’s stories and the filmmakers featured.

The first film I watched from the set is Satyajit Ray’s ‘Teen Kanya’ (Three Daughters)…

Released in 1961, this Bengali film has three of Tagore’s stories presented as three different short films in one. Interestingly, Ray made this film as a tribute to mark Tagore’s birth centenary. In all three stories, female characters are in focus and the director beautifully portrays their emotions on-screen.

The first story, The Post Master, is about a young orphan girl of about 8-10 years, Ratan (Chandana Banerjee), who works as a maid in the village postmaster’s house. Her new master is a young man from Calcutta, Nandalal (Anil Chatterjee) who misses the hustle-bustle of city life and his family back home. Unlike her previous masters, Nandalal is kind to Ratan and starts teaching her Bengali so that she can read and write like his own sister in Calcutta. The film has very few dialogues and silence works well for the simple narrative. The final sequence is heart-breaking and enhances the beauty of this simple story.

Teen Kanya - Samapti; Reliance Big Entertainment

Monihara (The Lost Jewels) is the second story in the film and is a psychological thriller. Manimalika (Kanika Majumdar) is married to a rich man Phanibhusan (Kali Banerjee) and stays in a large mansion in a village. Bored at home, her only companions are her pieces of jewelry. She loves her jewels more than anything and her obsession with them becomes visible when her husband faces financial crisis. This part of the film reminded me of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and Rebecca with the narrative style and the whole set up, including stuffed birds!

Samapti (The Conclusion), the third piece in the film is a love story. Mrinmoyee (Aparna Dasgupta) is a carefree young girl, who as per her mother does nothing what good girls of marriageable age should do. She spends her time playing with kids, chasing squirrels and enjoying the swing next to the river. She catches the attention of Amulya (Soumitra Chatterjee), a young man who is returning to his village after taking his exams in Calcutta. His mother has already found a suitable match for him but he convinces her to arrange an alliance with Mrinmoyee. The film captures the innocence of a young married couple who are different from each other and one of them does not even understand the meaning of marriage or love.

Teen Kanya - Samapti; Reliance Big Entertainment

Teen Kanya presents three different films in one and all are masterpieces in their own genre. My favourite is The Postmaster followed by Samapti and then Monihara. Other films in the set include Khudito Pashan aka Hungry Stones (1960, Bengali) directed by Tapan Sinha; Kabuliwala (1961, Hindi) directed by Hemen Gupta; Ghare Baire aka Home and the World (1984, Bengali) directed by Satyajit Ray and Char Adhyay aka Four Chapters (1997, Hindi) directed by Kumar Shahani. There are two documentaries in the set also including Natir Puja (1932, Silent) directed by Tagore himself and Rabindranath Tagore (1961, English), a dramatized documentary on Gurudev’s life, directed by Ray again. Click here to read more about all these films and get hold of your own set soon.

Lust, Caution

 

Ang Lee at his best…

Lust, Caution; Pic Source: Wikipedia

2007, Chinese with English subtitles

Directed by the master filmmaker, Ang Lee, ‘Lust, Caution’ is an intense espionage / love story (or shall I say lust story) set in Shanghai and Hong Kong during the period of the second SinoJapanese war (the film is set between 1938 and 1942, while the war happened between 1937 and 1945). During this period, China was ruled by a puppet government led by Wang Jingwei.

The film traces a group of Chinese university students who decide to make a contribution to the war by assassinating a high ranking official in the puppet government, Mr. Yee (played by Tony Leung ChiuWai). An elaborate plan is made and a young, shy student, Wong Chia Chi (played by Tang Wei) is chosen to play the most important and dangerous part. She is transformed into a glamourous and rich society lady by the name of Mrs. Mak who is supposed to find her way into the Yee household. All actors are brilliant, especially Tang Wei who has an extremely complex role. Unlike other espionage films, there is not much action but each scene is full of tension. Such is the power of great writing, editing and of course direction. Ang Lee proves that you need not have gun chase sequences to make a good thriller; it is all in the mind.

Lust, Caution is beautifully shot and each frame is just perfect. The production design is outstanding as you are transported in another era. The styling is just perfect, capturing the contrast between the war-striken poor and the glamourously dressed society ladies. The background score also goes extremely well with the mood of the film.

The film won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival, the Golden Lion and was widely acclaimed the world over. The film garnered a lot of press, thanks to the explicit sex scenes, however there is much more to the film. It is a masterpiece and one of the finest movies I have seen. A must watch.

My Rating: * * * * 1/2 Four and a half stars on five

Shrey Khetarpal

PS: Anupam Kher has a cameo in the film