Friday, April 24, 2015

Barefoot To Goa: Review

That Praveen Morchhale’s Barefoot To Goa finally has a theatrical release almost two years after it was shown at the Mumbai Film Festival, is both good and bad news. Good, because every film deserves to be seen by a wider audience. Bad, because a paying public deserves well-made films, and Barefoot To Goa is very far from one.

From the very first scene, it’s clear that Barefoot To Goa will be the kind of film that will demand your tears, instead of working to earn them. The film is about a brother and sister who travel from Mumbai to Goa (not barefoot, for the most part) to visit their grandmother, who has been abandoned by her uncaring son and daughter-in-law, and who is—drum roll—dying of cancer. The children, who must be somewhere between the ages of 6-10, make the trip with the minimum of fuss: hitching rides, finding shelter with kindly rural folk and not being kidnapped or sold into slavery in any way.

I take no pleasure in running down a film that’s obviously been strung together on a minuscule budget, but couldn’t everything have been thought through a bit more? The screenplay trades in the worst kind of virtuous-villager/seeing-the-face-of-God-in-a-child clichés. The camerawork is all over the place, favouring close-ups when none are required and occasionally shifting to shaky, hand-held shots, with disastrous results. The colour scheme is too dark, though even when you peer through, there’s nothing of interest to see. The actors playing the children are neither good nor embarrassingly bad, something that cannot be said for the parents. Only Farrukh Jaffar, who’d played Amma in Peepli (Live), manages to transcend the material in a near-silent performance as the grandmother.

This review appeared in Mint.

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