Barefoot to Grandma
Amidst the formula fare of big bucks, yet another small- scale sensitive film rediscovers the bond between the young and the old
Mehru Jaffer Lucknow
This is such an ‘oh, my God!’ moment for film buffs in India who have their plate full these days with a variety of superb releases cooked up by independent filmmakers. After the poetic Dhobi Ghat came the Ship of Theseus, and now, The Lunchbox is said to be a must. It is such a joy to note that good cinema is not necessarily dependent on big bucks and mega stars.
The emergence of superb films that cost zilch compared to the usual formula fare is a healthy trend. These little films put to shame all those big budget mega movies studded with stars, a majority of which end up as dust and seem such a sinful waste of money, talent and time.
Indeed, there is more good news coming from the 15th Mumbai Film Festival (MAMI) that has included Barefoot to Goa in its competition segment — ‘Celebrate Age’. This segment encourages filmmakers to look at the fun, games and concerns that go into growing older. Barefoot to Goa is a lovely film that looks at the way we live our life today from the point of view of two children.
The film is endearing for its sheer simplicity and innocence of intent. It raises concerns about the way we relate with our children and elderly people. This is a concern that hovers around the narrative like a shadow, impossible to shrug away.
A couple with two children lives in a modest Mumbai apartment. It is obvious that there is no room in the apartment or in the heart of this youthful nuclear family for elders. The son is already 11 and the daughter is nine, but they have never met their grandmother who lives alone in Goa.
At first, it is not love, but circumstances that compel the children to sneak away from Mumbai to travel to Goa on their own to meet their grandmother. The film unfolds into a poetic journey of the discovery of life by innocence. The experience on the road from Mumbai to Goa is worth a million dollars compared to life in a multi-storeyed apartment of glass and concrete.
It is a moving moment when, one evening, the little girl looks around her rustic surroundings and asks her brother why there are no stars in the skies above Mumbai. After tasting the joy of quenching their thirst with water drawn from a hand-pump and enjoying a ride through open fields on a motorcycle also carting fowl, the children live the thrill of being chased by a truck driver who wants to hand them over to the police.
Once the self is free from repetitive and monotonous existence, the soul naturally flowers and intuition sharpens. At one end of the narrative the children are shown making a spontaneous plan to visit their grandmother, while the grandmother too is unable to contain her longing to be with her grandchildren any more. Her journey begins at the other end of the narrative. There is excitement as the two journeys, of the young and the elderly, near collision.
This is all that Barefoot to Goa is about. It is John Breakmas Kerketta’s leisurely cinematography that is responsible for making this road movie of the young and the elderly so lyrical at a time when society seems to celebrate just the youthful segment of its population because it makes tonnes of money for the stock market, without an iota of concern for the soul of the society they live in.
This is Mumbai-based Praveen Morchhale’s first feature film and he is overjoyed to participate in MAMI that opens for eight days on October 17 this year. The festival will screen over 200 films from 65 countries.