An Open Letter to Cameron Crowe
“In 1995, I had two movies under my belt and years of inspiration from Billy Wilder’s work. Like many up-and-coming directors, I made the pilgrimage to his office. He had no idea of my own work, and I didn’t expect him to.”
- Cameron Crowe in Conversations with Wilder.
Fifteen years later,
In 2010, I made a similar pilgrimage too. To your office. All the way from Chennai, South India, half way around the world to Culver City, Los Angeles, USA to just drop off a DVD of my tribute film to you, my Guru – the single-most significant cinematic influence in my life.
The all night phone call that Drew Baylor and Claire Colburn shared inspired me to write out an entire movie out of that phone conversation in Elizabethtown.
And given our common admiration for Billy Wilder, I thought you would love it more if I made that movie as a throwback to the old world romance films of the fifties.
My film, Good Night | Good Morning, written by me and Shilpa Rathnam, is all about an all-night phone call between two strangers on New Year’s night in New York City. It’s a split-screen black and white talkie with a lot of jazz.
I am pleased to tell you, Sir, that my film “Good Night | Good Morning”, has been invited to half a dozen film festivals around the world. We premiered at the Mumbai Film Festival and at the South Asian International Film Festival in New York in October 2010, played during the International Film Festival of India, Goa in November 2010, at the Chennai International Film Festival in December 2010, Habitat Film Festival in May 2011 and are now selected to play at the Transilvania International film Festival in Cluj, Romania. We are gearing up for a theatrical release in India later this year.
In fact, it was after our New York premiere that I took a flight out to LA with the hope of getting an appointment to meet with you or drop off the DVD at your office. That was quite an adventure for someone from India who has never been to that side of the world. I made my cousin drive me straight to Vinyl Films from the airport to drop off a DVD along with a small note to you but was told at the gate and your agent that I can’t leave unsolicited material.
Two weeks prior to my trip to Culver City, I had earlier written to Robert Bookman, your own Jerry Maguire. I had also spoken with a few of my journalist friends in Mumbai, New York and Los Angeles about my desire to show you the film. Lia, a journalist friend from New York said that her friend Ben Fong Torres could forward my email to you to pass on my message about the film we made for you.
We live in a small world really. Andrew Coles from your agency was quick to mail back with a note that you are thrilled to hear about the film. The note didn’t have anything indication if I could send you the DVD but your wishes were enough. At least, for a while.
Thank you so much for your wishes, Sir. I still hope to show you the film some day because the student would love to know what the master thinks.
It would just feel incomplete if this tribute film I shot with my credit card and all my lifetime savings does not reach the one person it was intended for – YOU. I would be thrilled if you accept this film as my Gurudakshina (tribute/traditional Indian term for tuition fees to Guru) to you.
What Wilder is to you, you are to me. I hope to make you proud some day. Like how you have made Wilder proud. And like you, I would totally understand if you don’t want to watch the film we made for you, like Wilder declined to read the manuscript of Conversations with Wilder (“That way I can always say, ‘Well – he f***ed it up.’”)