In Retrospect: Go Goa Gone

By Deep Guha

Pic : Canva

Let me make this clear first. This is not a film review. It is my attempt to talk about a film that caught me off guard when I first saw it and still manages to hold my attention whenever I see it.

I first saw Go Goa Gone as a part of a zombie movie marathon. It was the last film on the list and I seriously thought that it wouldn't stack up against the lineup that I had (Dawn of The Dead, Shaun of The Dead, 28 Days Later, I Am Legend, Resident Evil). By the time I got to Go Goa Gone, my reservations became stronger. How would a Hindi Zom-Com work? Set in Goa of all the places? Indian horror films rarely work for that matter. But I put aside these questions and pushed the play button. And for the next 112 minutes, my mind underwent a series of explosions.

Go Goa Gone exceeded my expectations, to say the least. The film was engaging, had a good, albeit a familiar story to tell, and was downright batshit crazy. While there are many things in the film that I want to talk about (which we will get to in just a bit), the thing that impressed me the most was the setting. I was genuinely surprised to see how the directors' managed to mash Goa and a Zombie epidemic together. Unlike other zombie movies, the scenery isn't a post-apocalyptic urban desolate. It's vibrant, filled with lush beaches, green trekking routes, blue seas. And in the midst of it all, a zombie infestation. For me, it was cool to see this, because it was unimaginable. And it works well. Genuinely.

The movie’s premise is fairly simple. Luv (Vir Das) and Hardik (Kunal Khemu) hijack Bunny’s (Anand Tiwari) office trip and leave for Goa where they meet Luna (Puja Gupta). The four of them attend a rave party hosted by the Russian Mafioso, Boris (Saif Ali Khan) who plans to launch a new drug named ‘D2RF’( probably a nod to the director duos film banner, D2R Films). What follows next is a series of hilarious adventures.

The characters of Go Goa Gone (Or any film for that matter) are the real assets of the movie. The triangular chemistry between Luv, Hardik, and Bunny is what makes the film tick. Hardik is the wannabe playboy and the de facto leader of the group (but he's not very leader-like). Luv is a social media enthusiast (*cough* sarcasm *cough*) and a man in a perpetual search for love. Bunny is the odd one or the normal one in the group depending on how you see it. The three represent an unstable trifecta of loyalty, wackiness, and normalcy. The dynamics of these three friends is so well written and portrayed by their respective actors, that you cannot take your eyes off of the screen.

Now let’s come to the big gun. Boris is the Delhite-Russian Mafioso with a guns-blazing, kill or be killed philosophy (hence a Delhite, maybe?) with a sidekick named Nikolai. Both Boris and Nikolai bump into the group in one of the most hilarious scenes of the film. And how does he introduce himself? He cocks a shotgun and utters his catchphrase, “I Kill Dead People”. And believe me. I know it sounds terrible on paper, but it friggin’ works.

The only characterization the irks me is that of Luna. I mean she was just there. Luna is a two-dimensional character with next to zero depth. She just exists to accompany the group and act as Luv’s love interest (no pun intended). This might have been a problem on the writer's part because they did give Luna things to do. But those things were almost inconsequential and the bare minimum to push the plot ahead.

Another thing that elevates the movie is its soundtrack by Sachin-Jigar. With tracks like 'Khoon Choos Le', 'Khushamdeed', 'Slowly Slowly', and the now-iconic and near-mythical track, 'Babaji Ki Booti', the music duo showcase their immense talent and a knack for throwing out diverse musical scapes that can please both the average Indian audience and connoisseurs alike.

As of 2021, Raj & DK, the directors' of the film, have quite the oeuvre to boast of. Shor in The City, The Family Man, Stree, and many other works. But somewhere down the line, it could be argued that Go Goa Gone was the film that propelled them as directors worth working with. Their treatment of the script, visualization, quirky sensibilities, and handling of the story in respect to Go Goa Gone is almost perfect.

Go Goa Gone is an example of the fact that sometimes Bollywood manages to get it right with their experiments. It is impeccably written, directed, and mostly plays to the strength of its actors and the genre. It is in no sense a perfect film but it works on many levels. It is a hilarious take on the not-so-hilarious drug-abuse culture that the Indian youth is going through. It is one of the finest slacker/stoner comedies that the Indian film industry has to offer, and at the same time, it works well as a zombie flick. Most of it is due to the fact that the film takes time to set up the beats and deliver on them. The character arcs are well-formed and rounded up. Throughout the whole movie, nothing ever feels forced. Except for the things that Luna does (don’t hate me).

I guess the reason why the film has been enjoying the ‘cult film’ status is because it has aged well. It really holds up against the other films in it’s genre. At least in my eyes. Go Goa Gone perhaps also signified the start of a phase where, at least a section of Indian producers, directors, and the average Indian audience were willing to create and accept a new phase of Bollywood.