Vinayak Chandrasekar’s debut directorial Good Night is unique and refreshing in more ways than one. And its layered writing shines through when simple moments of sweet little nothings turn into a delightful comedy with huge emotional payoffs. With the protagonist Mohan (Manikandan) suffering from snoring issues, Good Night seems to be a fitting title. But Vinayak reveals that he initially had a different name in mind. “We tried to get the title Kadhalikka Neramillai, a 1964 film starring TS Balaiah and Nagesh, but we couldn’t get it. That’s when my mentors TJ Gnanavel (director of Jai Bhim (2021)) and Vinci Raj (publicity designer of Kaala (2018)) suggested the title Good Night. I wasn’t convinced; I had my insecurities. However, I should thank them as the title was well received by the audience.”
Mohan (aka Motor Mohan) is a middle child who shares a tiny home with his mother, a bratty younger sister, an elder sister, Maha (Raichal Rebecca) and her husband Ramesh (Ramesh Thilak). There is a story behind his name as well, quips Vinayak. He says, “I am a big fan of Mohan sir and the name seems to be more common and realistic. His mother might have been crazy over actor Mohan during her college days as well. I had a scene in my mind connecting all these dots. So I decided to name my protagonist Mohan.”
While the characters in Good Night are quirky and relatable, what makes us enter into their crazy world as soon as the film starts is the long single-take introduction sequence. As the camera moves into the different rooms, registering the film’s geography, we get to see how the gossip about the younger sister’s arrears spreads like forest fire in the small colony, while Mohan and Ramesh place dibs on who gets to use the bathroom. Vinayak portrays the family dynamics also in this scene - we see Manikandan argue with his mother for cooking the same dish every day and then pull Ramesh's leg for sharing an intimate moment with Maha. Vinayak says that this single-take sequence was filmed 17 times before the entire scene fell into place. “We have a certain timeline for films. I had so much to say, and hence I was compelled to establish all the characters within the first few minutes of the film. Thereby, I planned for a single shot and planned for little things, including Ramesh asking money from Mohan, the neighbour aunty requesting gravy from Mohan’s mother, and many more.”
Speaking about his favourite moments in Good Night, the director points out that it was when Ramesh loses his child and lets out a loud cry, which is one of the saddest moments in this breezy film. “We spoke about the scene and planned how to execute it for a long time but we okayed it in the first take. I had tears in my eyes when Ramesh Anna performed this scene. Everyone clapped after the shot and I hugged him so tight. Ezhudhum podhe romba baaram ah irundha scene (even when I was writing this scene, I felt very sad and deeply affected), so it was an emotional moment when Ramesh performed it so well. I am happy that the audience also connected with it.” shares Vinayak.