Good Night: A Battle of Good Egos
Star Cast: Manikandan, Meetha Raghunath, Ramesh Thilak, Bucks, and Balaji Shakthivel
Music Composed by Sean Roldan Good Night Tamil Review
Produced by Nazerath Pasilian, Magesh Raj Pasilian, and Yuvaraj Ganesan
Directed by Vinayak Chandrasekaran
In Indian Mythology, Shiva is known to be a “Good God”. While Vishnu is known to be “Good yet to be Cunning when needed”. The thing is, Shiva goes by rules and emotions while Vishnu came to make rules and break them as well if required. Brahma, on the other hand, is given the status of a creator who takes a neutral side from both but is equally knowledgeable and powerful. He also depends on both of them to set things straight when required. Shiva is so naive and by the book, according to mythological stories that he doesn’t think about consequences but act by the situation. He can give and take everything in one second but his only drawback is again his commitment to nobility and honesty. Many evil rakshasas have taken advantage of his “Bhola” tag or “naive” tag.
He is also Rudra, the man with anger that can burn the universe in its entirety. Even the multiverse for those wondering. But he will never destroy what is part of Vishnu, hence, he tries to keep his anger in check. He meditates for eons and eons to keep the balance of his emotions intact and Vishnu goes into sleep for the same period of eons. His meditation lies in sleep while Shiva meditates like a good Yoga Guru. With such powers and great responsibilities on their shoulders, they might have to act in a certain way at certain times. Understanding them and looking at their drawbacks and taking the responsibility of keeping them happy at all times, while guiding them in the right direction, if required takes a lot out of any person.
Hence, the Ultimate Goddess Adishakti had to divide her powers and bring to life Parvati, Lakshmi, and Saraswati. Parvati – a Goddess with extreme calmness and instinct to understand Shiva. Lakshmi – Goddess who represents entire wealth and happiness can only understand Vishnu’s actions. Saraswati – Goddess who represents entire knowledge can help Brahma in creation. Why so much mythology class? Well, in mythology, Indians have talked about how husband and wife should be as a couple. Shiva-Parvati together are called Ardhanariswara and Vishnu-Lakshmi are called Lakshminarayana. Filling the gaps between each other and encouraging each other to become even better personalities than before and helping them reach their full potential is all about marriage. But Shiva and Parvati have a battle of good egos, trying to adjust their life for each other. When it comes to Lakshmi and Vishnu, they have similar personalities but Parvati had to do penance as Sathi/Dakshayini and Girija to please Shiva. Because of his honesty, he considered himself not fit for family life. It took years for every other Angel and Vishnu to convince him to at least consider. Even then Parvati had to be the one to express her desire to be with him and then convince him for the marriage. Good Night deals with one aspect of Shiva-Parvati’s married life.
Good Night is such a movie that how much content you give away that much of the experience is lost while watching it at the theatre or OTT. The director tried mixing director Visu‘s family with Balachander‘s style of screenplay and characters. Visu families have situations with characters trying to always hold their ground until they are exposed completely and asked to realise their mistakes. But these characters create fun to watch. Balachander, on the other hand, takes characters that have strong morality and then puts them in situations where they have to react. Those reactions start to define them and you can see if they are hypocrites or people with high morals as they claim. Visu asks you to go by the morals predefined or “correct” themselves. Balachander breaks those morals if required to showcase the character’s actions. He doesn’t justify them unless he has to, while Visu tries to take a side from the beginning. So, mixing both sensibilities is not easy as one is realistic while being dramatic another is realistic in the “story or director’s vision defined” world. The director Vinayak Chandrasekaran brought out situations that resemble Visu’s family and gave characters that come from the Balachander world.
To do something that is right, “Motor” Mohan [Manikandan] has to try even harder than ever and find a solution. Just like how Shiva tried to control his anger to become a husband. On the other hand, Anu [Meetha Raghunath] has to stop self-loathing and be the aggressor if required to take a firm decision just like Parvati. Is the journey going to be easy? No, one person knows how to love and another just got used to it being her strength. Motor Mohan is a really good person. He knows how to love a person and not how to accept their side. When Anu says, “I’m unlucky”, he takes it easy because it doesn’t seem to him like a red card in her personality. They both have to work on it. They don’t because he is self-centered in a good way. He thinks she might have a problem with him, when actually she has a problem of her own. Film doesn’t delve much into her side of the problems. Balachander could’ve easily done that. Hence, we are left with the question, Can the person who knows how to love turn it into hate under extreme self-destructive good ego? Anu started accepting life as it comes. It is good to live life without frustrating ourselves. But when you want something and you think you can adjust with it, then you end up frustrated further. Mohan asks her to eat something and after hesitation and when she is also tempted she agrees to order. Mohan doesn’t add to it and immediately, accepts and orders. She likes that nature in him. He understands how she can be hesitant. She likes that aspect. In the film, the aspect of her affection and trust in him needs to be questioned. It does but then rotates in a loop. Hence, we end with a question, Can the person who accepts life-as-is demand him to be the way she likes and wants and ever come out of her darkness, if required? The film is all about them and the situations around them.
Both the actors K. Manikandan and Meetha Raghunath gave apt performances to the characters. Meetha, understood how she can be a submissive naive girl while growing into a firm person who can voice her thoughts if required. Their performances make the movie. Even other characters also give us the experience of watching into the lives of someone in our neighborhood. Good Night is held together by performances and Sean Ronald OST. For example, take the scene of Anu loving to cuddle Mohan while sleeping. After a few days, she wakes him up and sees if he stops snoring. He wakes up and sleeps again casually. At a later point, completely disappointed by his failures, he wakes up and she wakes up. He takes it as a sign of him disturbing her. But she tries to say she wants him beside her. This subtle scene and transition shows, how good they are as actors. Sean Ronald composes music that goes with the film and nothing tries to move a piece of puzzle out. It just fits into it. Cinematography and production design added to the environment of Mohan and Anu. Catch the lack of detailing in Anu/Mohan’s flat and the unkept old look in Mohan’s parents’ house, Anu’s grandparents’ house. The feeling of someone living for years has been achieved in the first shot. Many Tamil films tend to get these things right in production design but they tend to go overboard. Here, realism gets more importance than “filmy grandness”.
Vinayak Chandrasekharan decided to keep things simple and real. But then, some cliches and a few emotional scenes seem to have been kept too casual. An open conversation between Mohan and Anu, voicing their concerns is needed before the resolution. The characters needed to realise where they are going wrong before taking decisions. Also, the initial portions do a good job of establishing but then the characters lose some clarity and clear graph as we move into the story. Balachander is a genius-level writer in keeping those characters intact and if the director learns from him, that aspect, his next would be even better and great. Visu tends to fizzle out the drama before pre-climax and then drag out the conflict for some more time before a resolution that seems simple. Both work but Balachander characters need Balachander-level justification.
Had the writing for Ramesh, Raichal Rabecca, and Balaji Shakthivel [Premisthe Director] characters had been better in terms of exploring their equations with the main characters, the experience would have been better. Also, Raichal character trying to establish that connection with Anu – a Balachander touch, would have worked out even better to the emotional core and Anu’s self-loathing personality. Also, Ramesh and Balaji Shaktivel could have become two sides of Mohan’s consciousness – another Visu and Balachander touch, if writing explored in that direction. Balachander kind of a writer-director got to my mind with the first scene, itself. Yes, web series directors in Tamil are trying to get realism and neo-realism into their execution. But Balachander made it cool and aspirational right away in the 1970s. More than the realism, the shot division and continuous shots, establishing everything without trying to give a voice-over or separate build-up take us into the film and let us pick the characters we like. That is Balachander’s specialty in my perception and this director showed a tendency to adopt that aspect. Hence, the comparison to push the team in that direction.
On the whole, Good Night is an embrace that lasts with us until U-Turns start to bother us. There are some in writing which needed to exceed limitations while it compromised to a decent level. The compromise in budget or execution is not an issue but the compromise in ambition to write a free-flowing serious conversation without cutting into comic relief could’ve been avoided. It felt like the writer wanted to keep it all light for fear of making it melodramatic and too filmy. These flaws don’t bother you too much while watching. The movie asks you to have a Good Ride into the Night problems of a couple that can only be solved by themselves. In a way, asking us to also address our issues from a third-person or second-person purview which may never look bigger than what is precious to us. Sometimes in life losing a battle feels like the ultimate win. You need to lose your adamant self and discover new horizons. Good Night is such a humble attempt that leaves us with a good aftertaste.
Theatrical Trailer: Good Night Tamil Review