Review of Virgin Goat (Laadli Laila) by Murali Nair, India, 2010

Still from Virgin Goat (Laadli Laila) by Murali

Still from Virgin Goat (Laadli Laila) by Murali

Kalyan Singh had to sell all his land and goats to pay for his daughter’s wedding. All he has left is one goat. Her name is Laila and she is barren. Singh, however, refuses to accept this and goes in a desperate journey to find a mating partner for his beloved goat.

Virgin Goat (Laadli Laila) is much more than a simple “goat matchmaker” story though. Murali Nair uses his film to reflect the social, sexual and political challenges Indians like Singh face. The barren goat, in many ways, represents Singh and his inability to give and to move forward.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. Nair uses a lot of humour, spiced up with Indian mysticism, to lighten the weight of his message. He also cuts his film into different sequences, so similar to a TV series that I was almost expecting to see an ad break. This, together with the weird characters and dreamlike scenes, makes the story distant and unreal; it is as if the filmmaker was trying to remind his viewers that Singh is just a made-up character.

The story goes far beyond him to delve into the lives of rural Indians. When Singh has to confront the fact that Laila is barren, he loses his mind. It’s a rather predictable end for such an untypical story.

This review was published in Nisimazine Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi film fesival 2010’s daily bulletin by NISI MASA.

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