Barefoot to Goa (2013)

Murtaza Ali

Dierctor    : Praveen Morchhale
Genre      : Adventure I Drama I Family
Cast         : Farrukh Jaffar, Purva Parag, Saara Nahar
Language : Hindi
Runtime   : 80 min; Colour

When faraway living 75-year-old happy but lonely lady, who is fighting with cancer and incapable to speak, wishes to see her grandchildren but goes unheard repeatedly, her small grandchildren defy uncaring parents and secretly undertake a long journey to save her.

Barefoot to Goa is an indie film written, directed and co-produced by a Mumbai based filmmaker named Praveen Morchhale. Morchhale's debut film, ‘Barefoot to Goa’ was in competition at the 2013 Mumbai Film Festival in its Celebrate Age section. On the face of it, this film is a tale of two siblings, an eleven-year-old brother and his nine-year-old precocious sister, who witness the loss of innocence during a life-changing road trip they undertake, stepping out of their cocooned environment for the very first time in their lives, in order to meet their ailing, abandoned grandmother. But, in its essence, ‘Barefoot to Goa’ is a social commentary on the great rural-urban divide in India. Morchhale creates a vivid canvas to depict the dichotomy between the two Indias and the manner in which their inhabitants think, behave, act, and live. How a selfish daughter-in-law living in the comfort of a middle class urban settlement deliberately tries to cut all the ties between her husband and his aging mother. How a destitute, deaf and dumb rural couple selflessly shower their hospitality on total strangers.

'Barefoot to Goa' closely examines, through its characters, the three different stages of the human life-cycle: childhood, middle-age and old-age. It's a cinematic essay that celebrates the innocence of the young, mocks the indifference of the grown-ups, and mourns the loneliness of the old. Morchhale's film serves to be a parable on the moribund human bonds in a fast-paced world. As an exemple of the urban society's moral and cultural decadence, ‘Barefoot to Goa’ is a warning that poignantly highlights the futility of life and death. And, yet, it's a movie that's full of hope for the whole of mankind. In its short runtime of 80 minutes, the movie touches upon several complex motifs that deal with life and humanity at large. It is for all these reasons that one just cannot regard ‘Barefoot to Goa’ as a run-of-the-mill children's film.

‘Barefoot to Goa’ inevitably brings to one's mind the 1955 Satyajit Ray masterpiece Pather Panchali, which, like Morchhale's film, revolved around two young siblings who experience loss of innocence while struggling to come to terms with the hard realities of life. Morchhale, like Ray, not only chooses a subject that's quite difficult to market but also treats it in a manner that's breathtakingly refreshing. While Ray's work was an adaptation of a popular Bengali novel by Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay, 'Barefoot to Goa' is based on an original screenplay by Morchhale himself. His bold move to make non-actors play pivotal roles in the movie reminds one of Italian Neo-realist gems like Bicycle Thieves. All this as well as the fact that Morchhale shows courage to make such a different film at a time when Indian cinema finds itself at a crossroads—while it's been doing really well commercially, it's clearly been left far behind, whether in terms of quality or the laurels received in the international arena—makes his effort a very special one.

Overall, ‘Barefoot to Goa’ is a profound work of cinema that needs to be watched by everyone who loves and admires filmmaking that's both honest and pristine. Morchhale's film can be deemed brilliant on both the technical and emotional fronts, especially given the budget constraints that one often associates with an indie feature film. He uses minimal dialogue and mostly relies on his powerful imagery to convey the message to his audience. The characters written by Morchhale are quite memorable and the actors who play them help them bring to life. He needs to be commended for eliciting such convincing performances from his actors, especially the two young leads who play siblings. The soothing music written by the team of Jack Francis and Rohit Sharma immensely adds to the movie's poignant feel. Ujjwal Chandra's editing is top notch and the same can be said of the John Breakmas Kerketta's breathtaking cinematography. 'Barefoot to Goa' can definitely prove to be a cathartic experience for those on the lookout for something to soothe their senses.

Vol. 46, No. 28, Jan 19 - 25, 2014

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