'Go Goa Gone' turns 10: Revisiting the zombie-fest

The Saif Ali Khan, Kunal Khemu, Vir Das, Anand Tiwari-starrer 'Go Goa Gone' is a 2013 Hindi-language zombie action comedy film directed by Raj and D.K.

'Go Goa Gone' Promotional Poster (Photo: IMDb)
'Go Goa Gone' Promotional Poster (Photo: IMDb)

Subhash K Jha

Raj and D.K’s Go Goa Gone is a savagely funny take on the mythic cult of zombies. Back in 2013, it was one of the first Indian films to tackle the genre.

Characters in the course of their casual and quite corny conversations tell us plenty about Zombie folklore. That zombies enjoy eating human flesh, that they cannot run fast and of course, that they are dead.

Working backwards on the premise of heroes shooting the dead, the co-directors spun a fable filled with grotesque humour and jump-scares that never quite reach the stage of stomach-churning gore-o-logy (to invent a term, and why not since this film is about innovation).

Go Goa Gone can be seen as a brutal burlesque of the horror genre. Scenes of zombies chasing our puny heroes through the Goan foliage are more satirical than scary. This innovative ode to terror moves at a quirky yet measured pace, gamboling quickly from one well-written scene of mock-terror to another without losing track of the film’s ultimate ‘bro-mantic’ purpose.

For starters the three heroes Kunal Khemu, Vir Das and the quietly effective Anand Tiwari who travel to Goa for fun and frolic look like outcast offshoots of the trio from Farhan Akhtar’s Dil Chahta Hai. Interestingly one of Farhan’s protagonists Saif Ali Khan here transforms into a blonde Russian zombie slayer named Boris whose accent keeps slipping off—and that’s fine because Boris is not really Russian.

The principal actors are fully in-sync with the zany mood. Saif as a pseudo-Russian zombie hunter gives a performance to dye for. The laughs flow with energetic gusto melting into a tide of spooky gore without creating a genre-confounding mess. 

Here is one film that doesn’t lose its way in translation. Though the characters ‘think’ in English (Hardik, indeed!) and although the whole concept of a zombie flick is very B-grade off-mainstream Hollywood, the hair-raising hijinks manage to stay relatively sleaze-free.

The performances are pitched at just the right flavour of fright. All the three main actors have fun with their parts. But it is Kunal Khemu who seems the most at ease playing a synthesis of the slimy and the slippery without falling out of character. A true gem of an actor, why is Khemu not given more interesting work to do? 

Saif’s star turn as the “Russian” sharpshooter is understandably self-mocking in tone. Saif’s character is in keeping with the film. You really can’t take the terror template seriously. And yet you get the uneasy feeling that the joke is on us.

The co-directors of the genre-defying Shor in The City could offer us a zombie fiesta that’s savagely funny and surreptitiously scary. Lastly, Goa as shot by Lukas Pruchnik and Dan MacArthur never looked more inviting—and less hospitable.

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