Suitcase Tales - The Genre Test

Posted on 11 November, 2016 by Team Wishberry

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Great stories, like life, happen when you least expect it. Out of nowhere. And everywhere. Mostly when you are on the move. And when you are willing to go some place unexplored.

I made Side A Side B this July because I caught Taxi, Victoria and Tangerine at various film festivals. Those films inspired me enough to not wait for funds or producers, and pushed me to get on a train with my actors and a make a live musical in 44 hours with two phones (Read all about my journey recording Side A Side B here).

X – Past is Present happened because I met a mysterious girl at a film festival after-party who reminded me of every girl I had dated. Because I didn’t want to tap into my life experiences and get too indulgent (and monotonous since I mostly ended up dating the same type), I asked fellow filmmakers from different schools of filmmaking to interpret the boy-meets-girl story in their own way just to see if we could somehow build a bridge between different sensibilities/kinds of Indian cinema.

Good Night Good Morning materialised as a friend purchased a camera that I recommended. I told him that we couldn’t shoot a movie with just one camera unless the script demanded it – like a story about three people in a house or two people on a phone.  The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to explore the same - two people on a phone indulging in an intensely personal conversation where we watch every moment eavesdropping on their intimacy.

That Four Letter Word happened when I was catching up with my best friends from school soon after college, and it hit me how life had very different things in store for us. What if we could tap into these formative years and the confusion that determines the rest of our lives? The Gujarati adaptation of the film ‘Pela Adhi Akshar’ will be out in December.

Ek Nayi Dunia, my sci-fi script came into being because a friend asked me to help him make a movie just like Good Night Good Morning. “People shouldn’t know you made the film because you don’t have money,” I told him. I set Good Night Good Morning in New York, as it was a New Year’s Eve film. So right at the beginning, with shots of Times Square, we made people forget that it was a low budget film.

I had just been to Maldives. So I told him: “Write something that needs Maldives. It’s beautiful. You’ll get a picturesque frame no matter where you place the camera. But the script should demand Maldives.”

We thought - a couple on a honeymoon? But there were films that had explored this. So how do we make it different? Make it the opposite of what’s been done before? If couples usually end up resolving differences during the honeymoon, what if we could do the opposite? Two people who need to have sex to consummate their marriage end up doing it after their marriage is over – all during a turbulent honeymoon. This seemed original. Seven drafts later, I decided to put the film through the Genre Test. Because we often miss out on the road not travelled. A genre more suited to the story.

The Genre Test (I should trademark this) is an exercise I usually do after the first few drafts. We often assume that the idea we have arrived at is best told in one specific genre. What if that’s not true? What if your coming-of-age film can get its point across more effectively as a thriller? What if your thriller can be more mystical as a supernatural drama? What if your drama is better off as a romance? Or a romance better off as a horror film?


A couple on a honeymoon, who are not right for each other, are haunted by the ghosts of their past – Horror

A couple on a honeymoon, who are not right for each other, are being hunted by a killer – Thriller

A couple on a honeymoon, who are not right for each other, need to survive a Tsunami – Drama

A couple on a honeymoon, who are not right for each other, need to see the ugly side of life – Tragedy

You get the idea. We hit a goldmine when we got to: A couple not right for each other are the only two people left in the world – Science Fiction.

This meant changing everything. Why are they alone in the world? The world ended? How? And so on.

The script and music is online (do check it out here). That’s the film I plan to shoot next.

(To be continued…)

Also read: Suitcase Tales - All we need is love… and a bit of paperwork

About Sudhish Kamath:

Sudhish is a film critic turned filmmaker. He’s worked on 3 films so far, along with the critically acclaimed - Good Night|Good Morning. Currently Sudhish is set off on a journey to breathe life into all the films he penned down, while living out of his backpack.


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