“Cannabis based movies do well, both critically and commercially,” Rohit Gupta

“Cannabis based movies do well, both critically and commercially,” Rohit Gupta

It bagged six awards in Accolade Global Film Competition, was awarded as the Best Drama-Comedy feature at The 21st International Indie Gathering Film Festival and also won the Judges Choice Film of the Festival award at the Cannabis Film Festival (California), Midnight Delight directed by internationally acclaimed Filmmaker Rohit Gupta, is a film composed of nine vignettes where the characters are in a marijuana-smoking lounge and they strike a conversation with people they’ve never met.

Best known for Another Day Another Life (2009) ; Life! Camera Action (2012) and most recently Midnight Delight (2016), Rohit joins the Indus Age team for an exclusive interview. Excerpts:

By Nidhi Kumari

IA: What triggered you to choose this subject?

RG: I had just come out of making our feature ‘Life! Camera
 Action…’ which was an exhaustive emotional roller
 coaster ride.  So I wanted to create something that was emotionally ‘moving’, yet light, speaking from the standpoint of production. I wanted to explore the
 concept of bringing enthusiastic and driven actors together, 
 who are passionate about portraying one of their dream characters on screen. 
That’s where the ideation process began. I felt it would be interesting to  put
 together  a project  focused more on the
 thought process than its canvas and depict how it would be
 for people to just sit around in a place and converse without any
 inhibitions. Like
 say, people sitting at starbucks having coffee and conversing, 
 or at a restaurant eating, or drinking, or any social setting for that matter. 
I wondered if a story could be told that had no central character but still made sense? Another reason this sounded interesting is that our propensity for
 eavesdropping is inescapable. I feel like a designer-strategist where the focus on structure comes out naturally. So, while brainstorming with my friend Sarthak Brahma and Chandra Pemmaraju (who also collaborated creatively) on 
what could be the common thread among the various vignettes
 in Midnight Delight, it dawned on us that cannabis would be a great candidate since, not only was
 the legalization
  of cannabis slowly started to happen everywhere in the United
 States, but additionally cannabis based movies have mostly done very well,
 both critically and commercially, with a mass fan following
 around the world. Hence the research began, and considering
 the subject’s socio-cultural
 context, at least around the US, this felt like it could be the right
 space to enter at the right time. Hence this movie!

IA: The film is composed of nine vignettes where the characters are in a marijuana-smoking lounge and the characters strike a conversation with people they’ve never met. That’s weird, inquisitive and strange. What would you like to say on that?

RG: Inquisitive? Absolutely! But then all the good things in life, from a pin to an Airplane, come from man’s ‘inquisitiveness’.  As for conversations with people you’ve never met, it’s not particularly weird or strange when you consider that every person you know today was a stranger the first time you spoke to them. Also they do not come across as strangers in the film and that’s the beauty of openness and real time connection.

IA: Have you ever come across people of this kind?

RG:  To quote Ayn Rand, a prominent Novelist and Philosopher, ‘Art is a selective recreation of reality…’. Besides, take any popular movie out there, say the Bourne movies. Have you come across a character like Jason Bourne in your life? Probably not. Yet, is that character plausible and engaging? Definitely.

IA: Midnight Delight, Say Hi To High. As a director, what was your ultimate goal?

RG: The goal is about exploring the journey from thoughts to screen and first hand experience the magic of how they make sense while keeping it exciting and entertaining along the way for the cast, crew and the audience.

IA: In a global industry, how do you think Midnight Delight stands relevant?

RG: It has universal appeal insofar as it unshackles the subconscious and the super-conscious mind from the constraining inhibitions of the conscious mind.

IA: The film has been shot in a room and it looks very easy a job, but was it?

RG: From a technical standpoint, it was rather simple but because of being an improvised piece that part was challenging in post-production.
IA: It’s difficult to keep your audience hooked for more than an hour in a room, but you’ve managed to pull it off.  Were there any apprehensions?

RG:  None, really. By curbing the constrains of the conscious mind, I was confident of striking a chord deep in the audience’s psyche. I am glad it seems to have worked out well.

IA: Tell us something about the use of animation in the film?

RG: The goal with the animation is to establish the mood and theme of the film from the minute go. To let the viewer know in 3 minutes what to expect from the film and set the stage.

IA: Coming to the cast in the film some of the actors have worked with you before, tell us about the actors in the film.

RG: I had a great time collaborating with Shaheed Woods, John Crann and Dipti Mehta during the production of Life! Camera Action…. So it was natural to have them back. As in with all others, one thing common was their commitment, enthusiasm and the attitude to explore, which put life in to the film. I feel lucky to have collaborated with such inspiring and wonderful people.

IA: Which pair is your favourite (though there was a scene with just an individual drowning in smoke)?

RG:  All vignette offer something that attempts to demystify some of my own personal curiosities. My favourite  is with Michael and John in the ‘High how are you’ series; Bill and Maggie’s ‘Hi’ and then with Michael & Alexandra  in ‘Illusion or Reality’.

IA: Is there any particular shot which is your personal favourite?

RG: Several of them, but to begin with Animation is one of my fav bits.  It’s a great piece with which the film begins and gets us hooked until the last frame. Then several of Michael and John’s reactions in their series including ‘High How are you’, ‘Still here’, ‘How high are you’, and Michael’s reaction with Alexandra in ‘illusion or reality’ are really awesome!  Shaheed Woods and Michele Suttile’s ‘Epiphanation’ and Dipti Mehta and Rachel’s ‘Awakening’ reactions are also my favorite.

IA: Any funny moment/s from the sets that you want to share with our readers:

RG: Every minute of being on that set was funny and memorable.

IA: Midnight Delight has been awarded with ‘The Best Drama Comedy Award’ and also at the ‘Cannabis Film Festival’, what do these recognition mean to you?

RG: Encouragement!

IA: Final comments.

RG: Let’s say hi to high….

Midnight Delight was released on July 21, 2016 via video on demand (VOD) on various platforms including iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Sony, Hoopla, Vimeo, Xbox among others.

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