Monday, December 2, 2013

Movie Review - Barefoot To Goa

Thanks to some of the work I get around doing, it spares a chance to see a lot of films that dont see the sight of a theatrical release so easily. Praveen Morchhale's Barefoot To Goa is one of those little gems that I was lucky to catch a couple of days ago. Written and shot almost like a docu-drama, this feature film tells a heartbreaking tale without dwelling much on the dark and dull side of it. this, pretty much, is the flavor of the season with the resounding success of films like The Lunchbox. And no wonder that Barefoot To Goa made it to the competition segment in the Mumbai Film Festival 2013, and rightly so.

Shot in pleasing high-definition, the film never tries to look lavish, fancy or go by the popular filmmaking plot points. Neither does Morchhale waste his runtime in shelling out details about how everything happens. Rather he is more interested in the journey of two kids who set out from Bombay to Goa to get back their ailing grandmother without the knowledge of their parents, visibly upset at their parents' lack of concern for her, and largely triggered by the younger (daughter) one who has a special place for her grandmother in her heart. The kids barely have an idea about how to read a dictionary but are goaded enough to make this journey on their own, literally without any plan. But they ride high on their instincts even when they dont know what's next in their journey. Some guts I would have never heard of, but then thats the job Morchhale's script does remarkably. The journey isnt planned but the solutions to their problems dont look contrived or stemming from lazy writing, infact they do end up looking realistic and incidental. An upsetting scene of losing a prized possession almost runs into another scene of kids splashing running water on each other. Morchhale never uses drama, the dialogues are almost minimal or curt, and yet BTG is fairly engaging.

Road movies have been made aplenty but putting two kids as the central characters in Barefoot To Goa has breathed in much fresh air into this script, as midst their vulnerability and adventure, a lot of underlying themes come to surface which dont need a microphone to be heard. The futile loneliness of the grandmother, the blind rigmarole of scattered urban families, the overlapped heart and mind of a kid, the simplicity and benevolence of rural citizens and above all the dying values of goodness - Barefoot To Goa briefly skims through most of these as it unfolds an interesting tale. Yet somewhere, it manages to underline the contrasting worlds of urban and rural India without deriding any of them, and somewhat mourns the dissolution of cluster families which has led to disparity and isolation. Having said that, I did feel that Morchhale could have made it crisper if it wasnt for so many themes and if there was some reasoning behind a few aspects of the story, such as the inappropriate behavior of the kids' mom.

I am not aware as to how much the budget of the film was but the production values did look more than appreciable. Ujjwal Chandra's Editing provides the film perfect pitch despite a lack of many dialogues and the open ended culmination is best suited. John Breakmad Kerketta's camerawork is stunning and offers some imposing visuals on the journey to Goa. Farrukh Jaffar as the estranged grandmother evokes all the sympathy out of you without overplaying the despicable. But the life of the film are the two kids, Saara Nahar (as Diya) and Prakhar (as Prakhar) who carry the film forward, sometimes with their naughtiness, sometimes with straight worried faces. It is their naivete that aids the film in its ingenuity. 

As a debut filmmaker, Morchhale has got the a striking nuanced balance of fun and purpose in his script and it would be interesting to see his future ventures. For those who could not see Barefoot To Goa at Mumbai Film Fest must try and catch it if they can. It may not be path-breaking but is definitely an innovative concept put to screen with a lot of heart. 

Originally published for MadAboutMoviez here

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