The caesura in the title of debutant director Sudhish Kamath’s Good Night | Good Morning is as indicative of this love story’s central plot of a dalliance attempting to keep up with time as it is suggestive of a relationship moving towards romantic fruition, relying heavily on modern technology. The fact that the film is primarily composed of split-screen frames lends more credence to the title.
Kamath’s English-language film is set in New York City (NYC) and is completely self-funded. He spoke to us over the phone from Delhi about his debut effort and his eight-stage theory of love and relationships. Edited excerpts:
Tell us a little bit about the film.
It is an experimental English film in which two strangers engage in a phone call over the course of a night in New York. The 81-minute film revolves around this call. I didn’t want to make a film that I wouldn’t be able to watch to the end. So I worked on a story that everybody could relate to. To do this, I came up with a theory about the eight stages that everybody goes through in a relationship.
The first stage is the Icebreaker, where a casual joke or two starts off a conversation. Then the Honeymoon, in which the two people discover each other’s salient positive attributes. Reality Check comes in next, where they notice each other’s problem areas. This is followed by Break Up, which is essentially the first big fight.
Director of ‘Good Night | Good Morning’, Sudhish Kamath
Many relationships tend to end right here. Others survive and go on to the next stage, which I call the Patch Up. In this, the couple reconciles and becomes more open and receptive. Confiding follows, characterized by sharing each other’s secrets. Then comes Friendship, where they become comfortable enough to share everything about each other. The final stage is called the Killing Confusion. The couple wants more out of the relationship, but aren’t totally sure about whether they can handle it.
Every modern-day relationship goes through these stages. I wanted to put all these into this one night.
And the shooting schedules?
Once I had written the film, I realized that it was heavy on pop-cultural references. Generally, when two people talk to each other for a long span of time, they discuss each other’s favourite films, music etc. And since we were making the film in English, these two ended up talking a lot about Hollywood. Therefore, we decided to shoot in one of the most romantic cities of all—New York.
Signature shot of ‘Good Night | Good Morning’ for publicity
Our aim was to ensure that the people didn’t approach it thinking it was a low-budget, home-made film. We wanted to transport people to NYC on New Year’s Eve. We tried to make it as credible as possible. Even though it is a low-budget film, it has aerial shots and all!
How did you fund your film?
I put in all the money myself. We only had a six-member crew, consisting of a single cinematographer. Also, we were shooting in NYC during the most expensive time of the year, between Christmas 2008 and New Year’s Eve, 2009. After the NYC shoot, we realized that we had blown Rs 13 lakh. So I could begin shooting again only later, that is when I had money enough to complete it. We finished the shooting in 2010. The film cost us Rs 30 lakh to make.
And then? The distribution, etc…?
Nowadays, most films spend a lot of money on publicity, with expenditure running into crores. We couldn’t possibly do that. I directly got in touch with PVR. They agreed to screen my film through Director’s Rare, which is their initiative to promote independent cinema.
Now my movie will be screened across six cities, including Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai.
Good Night | Good Morning releases in theatres on 20 January.