“Lend me your claws.”

Friends, audiences, countrymen: watch me play the fool.

We trade places this Friday, cinema and I.

The arrangement has long been a simple one. Movies unfold themselves before me, while I sit back — one hand eager to applaud with thigh-slapping glee, the other resting by a freshly sharpened scimitar — and watch, then write. This weekend I do neither, as a film where I am but a celluloid passenger hits screens. I am now in your hands, you turner of pages, you complainer of my words, you disagreeing deity. And it is to your chopping block I offer my throat, ready for garrote, guillotine or gaali.

In Sudhish Kamath’s ridiculously independent film Good Night Good Morning — releasing across the country this Friday — I am, as conceded above, a passenger. (Literally. I sit in a car surrounded by real actors, as one of them talks to a pretty actress.) It is an unconventional and peculiar romance, an all-night phone conversation brought to the audience via black and white visuals mostly split halfway down the middle, and while I have absolutely no idea how good the film is, I suspect the conversation may be quite disconcertingly close to reality. Or at least that’s what incessantly-texted conversations I’m currently having in the off-screen world seem to indicate.

And that, in a nutshell, is the whole problem, and the point of this column: I just don’t know how good it is. I can’t. I’ve watched the film four times over various festival screenings and finally now — with prints scrubbed up digitally and the sound mixed to multiplex standards — it does indeed feel like a ‘real’ film, and yet I, too busy cringing every time I see myself on screen to drum up any objective viewpoint, have no idea how the film actually is. I’m ‘told’ it’s quite good. Occasionally “intense,” even. But you know how critics are.

Which is why I’m asking you to go see it, and then let me have the full earful. (And yes, like I said last week, if you don’t like it halfway through, walk right out. And do tell me you did.) But giving it a shot would be both nice and a personal favour, since I, flummoxed and exasperated by not being able to have an opinion, would really like you to do what I usually do and tell me how terrific or trashy it all is.

Several online haters, infuriated by my less-than-devout attitude toward their favourite superstars, have been hammering this poor little film all over online forums, calling me names and even calling it a knockoff of George Clooney’s fantastic Good Night And Good Luck, merely because both films are black-and-white-and-titled-politely. Sigh. Murder the film by all means, but get it in your sights before you squeeze that trigger, yes?

So impale it or embrace it, high-five me or hang me, all I say is watch the film and smack me between the eyes with your opinion. Because it’s killing me to not have my own.

~

First published Mumbai Mirror, January 18, 2012.

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