Dir: Murali Nair. India-France. 2010. 87mins
A carnivalesque satire about a farmer’s desperate struggle to get his goat pregnant, Virgin Goat by Murali Nair is colourful, funny and mostly hits all the right marks. Although it won’t be easy to market, the film’s originality and humour should help to raise its profile among festivalgoers and arthouse audiences.
Virgin Goat’s biggest asset is the charismatic performance by lead actor Raghubir Yadav.
Kalyan, a middle-aged farmer, loves his goat Laila more than anything in life, including his bickering wife and his good-for-nothing son. The last remaining animal of a lineage that stretches back 500 years, to a flock bestowed on his ancestors by the King, Laila will not produce any kids.
Finally, after a visit to a dodgy-looking veterinarian, Laila appears to go into heat, and Kalyan sets off with her across the city to a waiting billy goat. However a high-ranking politician is planning a major rally on that day, and the police begin blocking off the roads.
Without a doubt Virgin Goat’s biggest asset is the charismatic performance by lead actor Raghubir Yadav, who instils the character of Kalyan with enough life and charm to immediately pull viewers into his plight. The screenplay keeps him constantly agitated and moving, and especially in the film’s first half his exploits and encounters with various outlandish characters is funny and engaging.
The film, which premiered at the Pusan Film Festival, then takes on a more despairing tone as it moves into the latter reels, leaving the work with somewhat of an edge instead of the feel-good conclusion some might expect.
Cinematographer Sandeep Patil’s rich palette of saturated colours, and exaggerated costumes and makeup give the film a distinctive, memorable look.
Production companies: Maya Films, Films Unlimited
Producers: Murali Nair, Philippe Avril
Executive producers: Raad Ismael
Screenplay: Murali Nair, Jonathan Page
Cinematography: Sandeep Patil
Production designer: Preeya Nair
Editor: Emiliano Battista
Music: Fardin Khalatbari
Main cast: Raghubir Yadav, Shiela Naidu, Saurab Gharipurikar, Purnima Maudgil, Archana Phadke