Friday, April 10, 2015

Review of Barefoot to Goa

Image Courtesy: Digital Poster from Barefoot Pictures

Genre: Social / Humanitarian Drama
Director: Praveen Morchhale
Producer: Praveen Morchhale, Satyajit Chourasia
Cast: Farrukh Jaffar (Grandmother), Saara Nahar (Small Girl Diya), Prakhar Morchhale (Brother Prakhar), Ajay Chourey (Typist), Purva Parag (Mother), Kuldeep Dubey (Father), Sharad (Biker), Guarav Patel (Police Officer), Pankaj Mali (Farmer), Sangita Mali (Farmer’s wife), Rajendra Bhatia (Truck Driver), Arvind (Tempo Driver)
Story and Screenplay: Praveen Morchhale
Music Composed by: Jack Francis, Rohit Sharma
Sung by: Yesudas, Tochi Raina
Editor: Ujjwal Chandra
Sound: Bibek Basumatari
Cinematography: John Breakmas Kerketta
Banner: Barefoot Pictures
Duration: 80 minutes
Language: Hindi
Release Date: 10th April, 2015

Barefoot to Goa, Praveen Morchhale’s debut film, conveys a beautiful as well as strong message which is indeed very relevant, soul-touching and also thought provoking. It has been already showcased in many international festivals all across the globe and gathered many accolades. For the first time ever, a film’s commercial release is funded by 238 Proud Funders from 15 countries. After watching the movie, I did feel that, isn’t it the story of almost every household today. Yes, Praveen touches a contemporary social issue. Parents do every bit to make their children self-reliant, independent, and educated. The same children, after growing up, move to different cities, countries for better career prospects. This is inevitable. But what is saddening is that aging parents are abandoned in some distant land and absolutely forgotten in the mad race of earning livelihood or living one’s own life. They have become a liability. The relationships are not valued, turning out to be merely a ritual. Today, when a person thinks about his or her family, it is limited to his / her spouse, and children i.e. the immediate family. What about the aging parents, who don’t feature in the list, and are left to fight their own battle that too at the fag end of their lives. Relationships have taken a beating in this fast paced society. We don’t spend quality time with our loved ones. Children don’t get to experience the ‘story-telling grandmother’ in person. There is a strong need for privacy. But isn’t it ironical that one’s privacy is assumed to be at stake due to one’s own parents. Kudos to Praveen and his team, the theme has been handled with considerable sensitivity. No over-the-top dialogues, no melodrama, rather, silence is used to convey a strong message. Barefoot to Goa does explore the nuances of human values and relationships, and also it questions the innocence we overlook.
 The official Trailer of Barefoot to Goa 

From the Director Praveen Morchhale’s Table: Barefoot to Goa is a kaleidoscope of modern society through the eyes of children particularly of India, with its contradictions of modernity, economic expansion and traditions. In today's nuclear family era and race of materialistic achievements and migration to big cities, aging parents are being ignored and they are assumed as burden. It might be due to the pressure of city life, space constraints and economic limitation. All these lead to the disintegration of the family and old age parents are left to fend on themselves at the fag end of their life. I understand our aging parents / old age people don’t expect anything except the love and caring. But do we really care about them? Are we not responsible for this situation of neglect and their abandoning? Film’s morally correct two children protagonist revolting silently against parents and embark on a journey to bring back their abandoned grandmother. They face challenges and hurdles, which raise questions for those, we have no answers. Old age people could be metaphor too. Are we not leaving behind our culture, rituals and our own self in the so called race of development and self-centered materialistic life.

The Storyline: The movie begins at Goa where Dadi (Farrukh Jaffar) is going to a typist to get a letter hand-written for her son and his family. Legendry singer Yesudas’ song ‘Naina do Pyare…” (his return to Bollywood singing after two decades) adds so much meaning to these frames. It conveys so beautifully the whole soul of the movie. The emotions on typist’s face are captured so beautifully when he reads out the letter to Dadi. In spite of not getting responses from her son and family, Dadi is regularly sending them letters and some gifts viz. Laddu, Lattu (spinning top or wooden spinner) etc.

These letters though get delivered at her son’s place in Mumbai, but neither reaches her son or grandchildren. Purva Parag (Mother) dumps the sweets into the waste basket and hides the letters from husband (Kuldeep Dubey) as well as children.  But, one day, when grand children Diya (Saara Nahar) and Prakhar (Prakhar Morchhale) coincidently find these letters from grandmother, that is where their journey Barefoot to Goa begins to bring their ailing grandmother (suffering from cancer) to Mumbai.  

How do Diya and Prakhar manage to reach their grandmother’s place at Goa forms rest of the story. How do they deal with the things when they move out of their cocoon? They come across lot of good Samaritans who become part of their journey. Unfazed by the uncertainties, they keep exploring the untread path, fully determined to bring their Dadi back.

The screenplay picks up both the good and not so good parts of rural and urban life. On one side, we see selfless support of a few strangers and on the other side, we see somebody not even able to accommodate one’s own family. The irony is shown that there is room for full-time maid at home, but no space for ailing mother-in-law. Innocence of children is captured so beautifully. Do they become successful in reaching grandmother? How does the climax shape up?

Certain scenes worth mentioning: A beautiful dialogue by typist when he is asked to write the letter instead of typing: “Syahi se shabdon me aatma aati hai”; Father nostalgically expressing about childhood days and his mother to Diya which is followed by a deep breath (is it his helplessness or guilt?); Diya and Prakhar looking into dictionary to find the meaning of cancer; Diya’s response to Prakhar’s question whether she knows where Goa is: Kya Vasco De Gama ko pata tha ki Goa kidhar hain?; Diya and Prakhar looking at sky during their journey and wondering: Mumbai me taare kyon nahi dikhte; Prakhar losing one of his priced possession Guitar, but the very next moment, both Diya and Prakhar are enjoying and playing with splash of water on the roadside. 

The show-stopper scene is definitely the last scene, it makes one ponder.

What could have been better: The whole movie has projected so much of positivity, so, was it required to project mother shrewd. She is not shown as a pleasant mother. Her sensitivity as mother reflects only during two scenes: when she comes to her children’s room to switch off the light or when the kids are found to be missing. Generally, what I have observed is that mothers are very sensitive to their children, but the same mothers are found to be insensitive towards their in-laws. But, here Purva Parag is shown as not-so-caring mother as well. I also felt, the family bonding could have been shown. Was that not biased while trying to show the divide between urban and rural people’s attitudes? There is a scene, where people come in a luxurious car, have corn from a wayside vendor, ignore the children sitting there and even drive away without paying the vendor, whereas a truck driver not only stops to notice children but also gives them lift.

Cast: Farrukh as Dadi is extremely good. Her being content with what she has, her loneliness, her positivity all are so beautifully depicted by her. She represents so many forlorn elders of our society. Prakhar’s face spoke volumes, he as a caring elder brother is very good, though I felt, he could have been explored more. Sara as Diya steals the show with her innocence as well as strong determination. Rest of the cast are also good and convincing.

Barefoot to Goa is a mourning of the death of values and beliefs without being mournful. In Praveen Morchhale’s words, it is a bright film about sadness. A movie of less words, but with lot of depth.   

The message through this movie is so strong that it stands beyond any rating, still let me rate it.   

Rating: 3/5 (Good)