Movie Review: The World of Goopi and Bagha (Goopy Gawaiya Bagha Bajaiya)

The adapted children’s feature is besot with oversimplification and passably produced folk music, but scores on vibrant animation techniques

Joshua Thomas October 25, 2022
  • Direction
  • Acting
  • Screenplay
  • Cinematography (Visual Style)
  • Music


In this animated film, adapted from Satyajit Ray’s 1969 children’s film “Gupi Gayen Bagha Bayen,” we watch the fortunes of two lowly musicians whose lives are transformed once given three boons by the King of Ghosts.

The film’s animation is an interesting mix of digital cut-up animation (resembling shadow puppets), with vibrant colours and drawings that seem to be inspired by ancient Indian art (18th century Rajasthani paintings, Mithila paintings and the like). There is nothing notable about the music save that its well-crafted lyrics and clinically produced folk infusions will appeal to a wide audience. The story has the flavor of an ancient Indian folk tale with a strong anti-war message but is grossly over-simplified in its portrayal – from its grunting and snorting animalistic soldiers, to its grotesquely thin princesses to its message of music and magic resolving conflicts. It forsakes ideas of humility for wish fulfillment. For most people, these might seem like lofty charges to be levelled at a children’s film but (for me) it’s always debatable how much nuance should be forsaken in favour of patronizing and entertaining children. In the contemporary landscape of animation there are plenty of children’s films that espouse subtlety without losing humour or entertainment value.

Overall, the film is successful as a commercially viable children’s film with a wonderful Indian-ness in its artistic heritage. But films targeted at children often suffer from being intolerably simplistic, and this film is no different. To produce animated films that appeal to both adults and children is an art that is beset with difficulties (of which the film-makers, in there characterization, seem disinterested), so it isn’t a bad reflection of the film, but it does stop it short from being something truly great.



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