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Letters From a Grandmother

Praveen Morchhale’s debut feature film, Barefoot to Goa, which releases this Friday, is about the plight of aged parents.

Written by Sankhayan Ghosh |
Updated: April 8, 2015 12:00:58 am
all india radio, lucknow AIR, barefoot to goa Praveen Morchhale’s debut feature film, Barefoot to Goa, which releases this Friday, is about the plight of aged parents.

When All India Radio began its services in Lucknow in 1963, actor Farrukh Jaffar’s was the first voice the city heard on the radio. Seventy-eight-years-old today, she still has a sparkling voice. So when Jaffar realised that she has no dialogues in the film Barefoot to Goa, she was surprised. The director Praveen Morchhale then explained that he wanted Jaffar’s character, that of an elderly woman abandoned by her son and living alone in Goa, to speak through silence. He wanted to focus on the lines on her weathered face to convey emotions that words might dilute. Jaffar’s silences form the backbone of the Hindi film.

Barefoot to Goa, which releases on April 7, follows two young siblings, on a road trip to Goa in search of their grandmother whom they haven’t met but feel a connection to. She sends them laddoos and knick-knacks with letters, which their father hides from their mother, lest the old lady “intrude” into their space in the tiny Mumbai apartment.

The film, which premiered in 2011 in the international competition section of the Mumbai Film Festival, doesn’t take a moral stand. It instead depicts a situation that is becoming increasingly common: the physical distance between aged parents and their children as they grow up. “As youth from villages and towns increasingly leave for cities in search of work, they lose their connect with the family. Everyone lives self-centred lives today and I don’t blame anyone for it,” says the 46-year-old director, who graduated from Indian Institute of Rural Management and worked in rural areas before turning to filmmaking with Barefoot to Goa.

In their journey — with no money or means — the children reach their destination with help from strangers. A poignant moment is when one sees the siblings being served a humble meal in a farmer’s hut with warmth and affection, a contrast to the lifeless dinner sessions in their Mumbai apartment.

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Much like its characters, Barefoot to Goa received support from unknown people whose contributions have eventually ensured the film’s theatrical release. An engineer from Chennai during the film festival screening suggested that Morchhale begin a Facebook page so people could help release the film. He collected Rs 50 lakh from over 230 people. “It’s not my film anymore. If it makes a profit, every contributor will get his/ her money back,” he says.

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