Barefoot to Goa (2015): Praveen Morchhale's poignant film about life and familial bonds that give life its true meaning

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, Official Release 10th April, Directed by Praveen Morchhale, Indie
Barefoot to Goa (2015) By Praveen Morchhale
Our Rating: 9.0
IMDb Ratings: N/A
Genre: Adventure | Drama  | Family
CastFarrukh Jaffar, Purva Parag, Saara Nahar
Country: India
Language: Hindi
Runtime: 80 min
Color: Color

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 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, Directed by Praveen Morchhale
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, Directed by Praveen Morchhale
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.   

Diya, Barefoot to Goa, Brief character Analysis, Directed by Praveen Morchhale
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:

i). Diya:

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.

ii). Grandmother:

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.

Grandmother prepares sweets for her son in Barefoot to Goa, Directed by Praveen Morchhale
The grandmother prepares some sweets for her son
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. 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 Children/kids take a bike ride en route to Goa, journey to meet their grandmother, in Barefoot to Goa, Directed by Praveen Morchhale
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.

Kids spend a night in the village looking at the stars, in Barefoot to Goa, Directed by Praveen Morchhale
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!  


Barefoot to Goa (2015) Trailer

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  1. Your blog is in my blogs list in order by the most recently updated.

    1. Thanks Emmanuel for featuring it in your bloglist!

  2. Huzair Ali KhowajaApril 19, 2015 at 5:30 PM

    Totally disagree. It was a total waste of 150 minutes and $10. He tried to create suspense and thrill but failed miserably. I was desperately waiting for a turning point in the movie which didn't come once. Extremely slow paced for a thrill. Overall, I would give 2/10 (one point for the first 3 minutes, which created some sort of interest)

  3. Well, at the end of the day it's a matter of personal choice... one man's meat is another man's poison! :-)

  4. Sarthak Brahma SrivastavaMay 1, 2015 at 7:59 PM

    "Welles’ characteristic use of shadows and silhouettes, (it’s difficult to not to think of films like Touch of Evil and The Third Man while watching "Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!")"- You certainly speak too highly about it. It's almost like I have seen a whole differebt movie #js :P

  5. Perhaps, you need to watch it again! :-)

  6. Sarthak Brahma SrivastavaMay 14, 2015 at 7:32 PM

    Nope. Perhaps you need to stop being too lenient with these mediocre films. :P

  7. Perhaps, I will start taking your advice seriously once you have watched half as many movies as I have... besides, aren't you the same person who was so full of praise for Dabangg? :-P

  8. Chandan Kumar DekaMay 19, 2015 at 12:02 PM

    Once again he done it with this movie.....he is the master of his craft. Again and again he do it with his best & every time I wondering how ? Hats off Nawazuddin Siddiqui. This time it is 'Liak'. Everyone justify their respective roles, but he again steal the show. After came out from the theater I remember 'Liak' more than 'Raghu'.
    Like this movie for showing a new perspective of 'Revenge'. Its a slow paced film.
    So if anyone like to see a revenge story with high voltage drama, thrill or action....its not for them.

  9. I couldn't have agreed more, Chandan... Nawazuddin Siddiqui was once again brilliant and people don't compare him with the great Naseerudding Shah for no reason. As for the film, I feel Sriram Raghavan is a great filmmaker and there are few in this country who can approach such complex themes with such finesse and panache. Badlapur is certainly a breath of fresh air for Hindi cinema.

  10. Chandan Kumar DekaMay 19, 2015 at 12:53 PM

    Yes, Mr. Raghavan proves himself before, but this time he did something above the mark and with this he set a benchmark for himself too. N yes I agree with you that this kind of cinema really make a difference in Hindi or in larger context, Indian cinema.

  11. Sayan ChattopadhyayJune 1, 2015 at 3:27 PM

    excellent review- one question . are you comfortable if a director takes a character's name and brings in a completely new storyline the way say a Guy Ritchie has done ? In that case, is it even fair to compare betwen the film's character and novel's character and pass comments as some reviewers have done in this case?

  12. Well, as I mentioned in my review, the purists will certainly not appreciate Banerjee's rendition. And it's absolutely fine... Dibakar here has done everything to annoy the traditional Byomkesh Bakshi fans and maybe he went a bit too far given the attachment of the Bangla people to their literary characters (even Ray's son wasn't spared for what he did to Feluda). The only way to appreciate this movie is to treat it as a separate entity... Dibakar too primarily was targeting the new audience... as for the enthusiasts, it's certainly an insult of sorts but I for one (as a film critic) had to assess it from the cinematic point of view and so I couldn't help but appreciate the maker's vision.

  13. Sayan ChattopadhyayJune 1, 2015 at 3:33 PM

    Point taken and completely agreed. Since we are on this topic, how would you rate it in terms of being a good quality film noir. Noir, incidentally, is my most favorite genre and hence am looking for your opinion on whether it satisfies the basic qualities required to be called a noir in terms of atmosphere, lighting and characterization

  14. Well, the noir influences are all over the movie and I just don't mean Private Eyes or Femme Fatales. The brooding mood, the brewing tension, the nauseating smoke, the seductive air and the deceptive shadows are all film noir signatures. It's amazing that Dibakar himself denied the film noir influence on DBB in an interview to The Hindu. Maybe, he didn't want to overwhelm the Indian audience or maybe he wanted to appear more original in the eyes of the media after Shanghai which we all know was a rip off of Z. It's quite interesting that two major Bollywood productions delved into the noir territory: first Badlapur and then DBB. But, in terms of pure Film Noir experience, I will certainly rate DBB higher. Mind it, since it was not shot in B&W, it cannot be described as a perfect film noir and since the setting is early 40s, it would be difficult to call it neo-noir (it is a whodunit but again not a typical one as there is more suspense than mystery) and so I think it's not a very easy thing to classify. Nonetheless, it is heartening to see the contemporary Hindi cinema finally come of age.


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