Many a locally made feature film goes unseen outside of festivals; some fine ones have never made it to home video. But while this indie comedy's video-distribution deal (with Pittsburgh-based Inecom Entertainment) is happy news for its makers, the movie itself disappoints.
Ravi Godse, an area physician, plays Dr. Ravi Godse, who during his mid-life crisis becomes obsessed with making a movie of his novel Two Guys, Three Girls and a Mad Professor. Obsession breeds delusion, and the doctor drives friends and colleagues crazy soliciting production funds. Meanwhile, his long-suffering wife takes his faked affair with a young film-school classmate for the real thing.
Writer-director Godse's wry approach -- reminiscent of '70s-era Woody Allen, complete with direct-to-camera monologues -- has flashes of charm, and some witty dialogue. ("People feel lymph nodes growing when you come around," one friend warns the increasingly annoying protagonist.) The trouble isn't that Dr. Ravi is a vanity film about a vanity film; it's that Godse suffers so many pitfalls of the novice filmmaker.
Using footage because you have it. The opening aerial shots of Pittsburgh must have cost a fortune; unfortunately, the steel mills and empty sports stadiums over which the helicopter lingers have nothing to do with the story. A nominally poignant scene late in the film drops out of nowhere, and lands with a thud. A long sequence shot in South Africa (!) is both superfluous and bizarrely padded with cutaways to basking crocodiles.
Using characters you don't have actors for. Two Indian docs have a blond, blue-eyed son (who's not even an essential character). Worse, much of the cast is either untrained or inexperienced. That's deadly in a conventionally scripted comedy, where timing and inflection are everything. Only Bryan Donohue, as a cerebral hospital colleague, and Patrick Jordan, as a dim and unctuous lawyer, make do.
Punning. In everyday life, even good puns are best in small doses. In movies, they merely distract, shunting the humor from story and characters to text. Godse scripts some real groaners for himself. A lot of them.
Being yourself. Godse seems an amusing fellow. But mocking your protagonist's pretensions and getting audiences to root for him takes more skill than most beginning filmmakers have. Worse, Godse frequently shoots himself gazing dreamily into space, presumably for comic effect.
Godse clearly loves film, and filmmaking. If he perseveres, here's hoping he can better distinguish the Jekyll side of his artistic alter-ego from the Hyde.