I never expected Go Goa Gone (GGG) to be any match for the Return of The Living Dead's and Zombieland's of this world. But this trailer suggested what could be a passable attempt at an indigenous zombie movie mixed with the trademark humor of the guys that made the smashingly funny 99 and the more ambitious if flawed Shor in The City:
That however turned out to be not the case. If one were to ask, as the movie itself, taking inspiration from a Steve Jobs poster, likes to ask several times over, "What do we know? What have we learned?" these are the points one can put together:
1. Too many borrowed elements - Slackers? Call of Duty references? Foreigners as zombies? Not that many Indian movies in cult genres are known for their originality but the problem is that even the borrowing is done in a very lazy manner, with not a smidgen of freshness or creativity. GGG may be an Indian production with Indian lead actors, but the script and direction is utterly generic with respect to the setting.
2. Not enough local flavor - 99 and Shor... were remarkable for their attention to detail towards local cultural stereotypes, and much of the canny humor was generated therein. GGG has zero local flavor, not even Goan, which makes it numbingly bland for most of its running time.
3. Huge lacuna of decent jokes - Remember the bit about the "dumb charades in the jungle" from the trailer? I was hoping there would be a fair amount of like humor in the film, but it turns out that the trailer has most of the good bits in the film...which is bad considering that the trailer runs less than 3 min and the film stretches to a zombie-fying 110 min. People around me at the cinema seemed to be enjoying themselves a fair bit, but then they were the sort whose funny bone was tickled every time someone cussed. Kunal Khemu has very good comic timing but he can't transcend the absolute lack of even half-decent material to work with. Saif Ali Khan has a small number of one-liners in the film, all of which are equally un-funny.
4. Shallow and Inconsistent - Again not uncommon in movies, but here it's inconsistent without being entertaining. The supposedly expert video-gamers and cable TV nerds have trouble recalling what zombies are, really now. The scene from the trailer where Saif's character Boris reveals his Delhi origins comes very early on in the film, but then he reverts back to his faux Russian accent for the most of the remaining time - some more Punjabi humor would have been a shot in the arm for the proceedings. The paper thin characters have you not giving a fuck as to what happens to them. The zombie shots are very disjointed and almost never raise any tension. Most of the gore elements come from digital blood splatters, and some of them appear to have been cleaned up from what was shown in the trailer. While this appears a childish thing to complain about given the lack of personality in the main characters, even the zombies are totally non-descript and devoid of any memorable moments.
So if your horror-n00b aunts and uncles come talking about how they too have dipped their beaks into the zombie genre with GGG, just remember to aim for their heads.