A powerful social commentary on the great rural-urban divide in India
A Potpourri of Vestiges Review
By Murtaza Ali
Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews
|Barefoot to Goa (2015) - By Praveen Morchhale|
Our Rating: 9.0
IMDb Ratings: N/A
Genre: Adventure | Drama | Family
Cast: Farrukh Jaffar, Purva Parag, Saara Nahar
Cast: Farrukh Jaffar, Purva Parag, Saara Nahar
Runtime: 80 min
Summary: 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 defies uncaring parents and secretly undertake a long journey to save her.
Barefoot to Goa is an indie film written, directed and co-produced by the Mumbai-based independent filmmaker Praveen Morchhale. Morchale’s debut film, Barefoot to Goa was in competition at the 2013 Mumbai Film Festival in its Celebrate Age section. After having collected accolades at 12 film festivals in India and abroad, the makers are finally releasing the film in cinemas across North and North-West India on April 10, 2015 through Proud Funding—an innovative Profit Sharing and Refundable Crowd Funding model (the tickets can be booked from in.bookmyshow.com). For the rest of the country, the movie is getting released a week later i.e. April 17, 2015. While I have already had the pleasure of watching the film back in October 2013 (fortunately, I was among the first few critics in India to review Barefoot to Goa), I am quite eager to watch it again on the big screen. Barefoot to Goa also marks the return of veteran playback singer K. J. Yesudas to Hindi cinema after a hiatus of 20 years with the legendary vocalist recording the song “Naina Do Nyare” for the film.
|The siblings Prakhar and Diya in Barefoot to Goa|
On the face of it, Barefoot to Goa is a tale of two siblings—an eleven year old boy named Prakhar and his nine year old precocious sister, Diya—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, Morchhale’s film is a social commentary on the great rural-urban divide in
India. Morchhale limns 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 middleclass 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.
|Farrukh Jaffar as the grandmother in Barefoot to Goa|
Barefoot to Goa closely examines, through its characters, the three different stages of the human life-cycle: childhood, middle-age, and dotage. It's a cinematic essay that celebrates the innocence of the young, mocks the indifference of the grownups, 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 exemplum of our 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.
|The precocious nine-year-old Diya in Barefoot to Goa|
While Morchhale presents us with at least half a dozen interesting characters, the two caricatures that tug at our hearts are that of:
We are introduced to a precocious little girl of nine who epitomizes the unbridled innocence of childhood that would tug at our heartstrings. Her resolve and strong headedness make her an object of envy and a symbol of courage not only for her eleven year old brother but also for those adults who fail to muster the courage when the going gets tough. She is the proverbial pocket size dynamite in more ways than we can possibly imagine. To watch this young upstart experience a loss of innocence as she steps out of her cocooned environment, accompanied by her brother, in search of her ailing, abandoned grandmother is nothing short of a pure cinematic treat.
The poignant sight of a septuagenarian woman incapacitated by old age and a bout with cancer longing for a son who long abandoned her can melt any heart. Her son’s blatant display of indifference hasn’t stopped her from loving him or sending him letters and homemade sweets at brief intervals. But, her love for her grandchildren is most tender and she wants to shower them with all of it while she still can. By closely observing her, we may get glimpses of our own elders and, perhaps, even come to terms with their growing solitude as they get older. We may also be reminded of our urban society's moral and cultural decadence.
|The grandmother prepares some sweets for her son|
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. Morchhale's bold move to make non-actors
play pivotal roles in the movie reminds one of Italian Neorealist gems like The Bicycle Thief. 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 the 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.
|The kids take a bike ride in Barefoot to Goa|
Whenever one talks of the 21st century avant-garde cinema, it's imperative that one talks about independent filmmakers. Buoyed by their inexorable passion for cinema and undeterred by the paucity of resources, this tenacious breed of artists has been instrumental to the constant evolution of cinema in today’s age of commercialization. And the onus truly lies with all those who understand and appreciate cinema to shower praise on this ingenious brigade of filmmakers by celebrating their sui generis works of cinema. In the recent years Hindi cinema has seen a resurgence of a parallel stream of filmmaking that seems to have blurred the line between the mainstream and the art house cinema. Today, the independent filmmakers are being actively backed by established production houses committed to improving the quality of cinema in
India, a trend which has
given rise to films like Dhobi Ghat, Paan Singh Tomar, Ship of Theseus, Lootera, The Lunchbox, etc. Barefoot to Goa, even though it is
not funded by any big production house, in the opinion of this critic, is the
crowning jewel of this new avant-garde movement in Hindi cinema.
|The urban kids spend a night in the village|
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. Morchhale 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. Morchhale needs to be commended for eliciting such convincing
performances from his actors, especially the two young leads who play siblings. The
road trip that the two kids take comes across as such a rich and powerful
experience for the viewers that some of the scenes are likely to stay with them
forever. While the movie’s soothing background music immensely adds to its
poignant feel, the editing as well as cinematography is top draw. Barefoot to Goa can definitely prove to be a cathartic experience for those
on the lookout for something to soothe their senses. The movie is a must watch,
especially for those who love their elders and value the familial bonds and
ties that give live its true meaning.
Readers, please feel free to share your views/opinions in the comment box below . As always your feedback is highly appreciated!
People who liked this also liked...