'Go Goa Gone' Review – Golimar’s Legacy
Before any vestige of zombies, Go Goa Gone shows us the story of three roommates: Hardik (Kunal Khemu), Luv (Vir Das) and Bunny (Anand Tiwari). Hardik has lost his job and Luv has lost his fiancee. To overcome the sadness of their current situation, the two consummate potheads decide to invade a business trip that Bunny (the responsible one) has on the beautiful island of Goa.
On the island, Luv falls in love with Luna (Puja Gupta), who invites them to a rave on a nearby secluded island, organized by the Russian mafia (apparently that’s an instant synonym of “awesome party”). The three friends enjoy the rave but by not having much money, they are not able to try the launch of a new drug called D2RF.
The next day, the three friends wake up in the middle of a zombie outbreak. It’s assumed that the new drug is the cause. After rescuing Luna and being ambushed by a zombie horde, they’re saved by Boris (Saif Ali Khan), a Russian mafioso who looks suspiciously like an Indian man with platinum-yellow hair paint.
That disruption is tackled immediately, which elevates the film and makes it smarter than one would think. Boris admits to being originally from Delhi and that’s that. There is no further explanation on why he pretends to be Russian, and that randomness is just great.
Go Goa Gone is a decent comedy, largely because the cast (especially Khemu, Das, and Khan) have great comedic chops and strong chemistry between them.
The direction of Raj and D.K. is frenetic and over the top, even for Bollywood standards. They’re not the greatest creators of action and gore sequences but they fully compensate with a great intuition for comedy, which is really what this movie is about.
Go Goa Gone seems to be struggling too much between being an anti-drug ad or being a proud stoner movie. Perhaps trying to circumvent the laws of the country, Go Goa Gone goes from glorifying the hash lifestyle to immediately demonizing it to the point that “drugs fuck you up” becomes somehow the final message of the story.
The movie is undermined by several aggressive and invasive conservative anti-tobacco messages (seriously, we are talking about almost 10 minutes of institutional advertising, at the beginning and in the middle of the movie), which ends up being a deeply distracting element. Perhaps it’s simply a local cultural element that is difficult to ignore.
Go Goa Gone was announced with great fanfare as the first great Bollywood zombie comedy, which meant a milestone for the cinema of that country. Certainly, it’s impossible that that label doesn’t generate immediate cinephile interest.
Unfortunately, the final result is quite standard. For non-Indian audiences, it's easy to not value in its proper measure the feat of that destroyed glass ceiling. This is just another zombie movie, where the protagonists happen to be from India.
And that would have been OK if the movie didn’t taunt us of the contrary.
Go Goa Gone starts by promising to bring its own Indian flavor to the zombie genre. In the opening, the protagonists are watching Donga, that 1985 Bollywood film that obtained worldwide fame with the arrival of the internet thanks to that “Golimar” musical scene in which Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” music video is graciously emulated.
It’s an interesting way to make a deserved tribute to the most worldwide famous Indian zombie cultural product.
Unfortunately, from then on, Go Goa Gone moves away from what could have made it unique and ends up generating a fairly standard zombie story, where it doesn’t matter if the setting is in India or any place else. The Indian culture, with so many possibilities for generating interesting moments, is relegated to the background.
What's Your Rating For Go Goa Gone?
Go Goa Gone follows the classic formula repeated to the point of exhaustion: unlikely heroes find themselves in the middle of a zombie outbreak. Unlikely heroes are rescued by a badass expert zombie slayer character. After multiple clumsy attempts, the unlikely heroes gain the power of common sense and learn that zombies can only be neutralized by aiming to their heads. Unlikely heroes and badass character join forces and draw up an escape plan.
And so on.
However, I must accept that the final credits, with the video/song “Babaji Ki Botty (Trippy Song)”, where the protagonists enjoy a hash trip, is a redeeming Bollywood moment. Unfortunately, this is just a coda that can’t be associated with the actual movie and ends up showing us what could have been.
Let’s hope that its sequel, about to start filming, won’t be afraid of building universal themes from its local roots.
Title: Go Goa Gone
Release Year: 2013
Director(s): Krishna D.K., Raj Nidimoru
Actors: Saif Ali Khan, Kunal Khemu, Vir Das, a.o.
© 2019 Sam Shepards