The Goat Life Review: Lost In Translation

The Goat Life is a survival drama based on Benyamin's novel Aadujeevitham, and The Goat Life is a Hindi version of this Malayalam movie, skillfully portrayed by versatile actor Prithviraj Sukumaran. 

General Rating

In a nut-shell:

Lost In Translation

The Goat Life Cast/ Actors: Prithviraj Sukumaran as Najeeb Muhammad, Amala Paul as Sainu, Vineeth Srinivasan as Maher, Jimmy Jean-Louis as Ibrahim Khadiri, Rik Aby as Kafeel Jr, Lena as Aisha

The Goat Life Director: Blessy

The Goat Life Release Date: March 28, 2024

The Goat Life Available On: Theatrical Release (likely to be released on Disney+Hotstar OTT Platform)

The Goat Life Released/ Available In Languages: Hindi (original language- Malayalam)

The Goat Life Duration: 173 minutes

The Goat Life Critic Review:

It was harrowing for Najeeb Muhammad, a real-life jobless labourer from Kerala, when he headed to Saudi Arabia for a job but ended up as a slave-labourer far away from nowhere. Based on Najeeb’s traumatic experience and miraculous escape, author Benyamin’s book titled Aadujeevitham (The Goat Life), was a best-seller.

Writer-director Blessy who bought the rights, gets the most impressive crew to tell Najeeb’s story. From a dedicated Prithviraj Sukumaran who plays Najeeb to Oscar-level crew including maestro AR Rahman and sound designer ResoolPookutty, along with National Award-winning editor A Sreekar Prasad, the nearly three-hour long survival drama is topped with magical cinematography by Sunil KS and KU Mohanan.

Practically kidnapped from the airport, the clueless Najeeb finds himself amidst hundreds of goats in a lonely patch surrounded only by vast stretches of sand dunes and desert. Beaten up mercilessly for every minor slip, denied basic human needs (like he’s told to wash himself with sand) and given only one stale kabboos (roti) every day, there’s communication-distress compounding his misery. He and the only other slave around – an Indian from another state – can’t understand each other. 

It is visually remarkable. Shot in Wadi Rum at Jordan and in the Sahara, the awesomeness and loneliness of the desert with its tsunami-like sandstorms, the look captured on the wide screen is its biggest draw. It is aided by Ranjith Ambady’s makeup which makes Prithviraj go from an indignant Najeeb to a humiliated man, resigned to his fate. Unrecognisably weather-beaten with a gradual change in body language and gait, Najeeb is reduced to half his original size. The transformation is laudable.

There are intermittent flashbacks to establish Najeeb’s love for pregnant wife Sainu (Amala Paul) back home in Kerala. Scenic, romantic, beautiful sequences.

However, packed with every conceivable misery that the desert can offer – from unimaginable thirst where even another man’s sweat will quench, to mirages, storms, snakes and lizards, Blessy tries to overwork the tear ducts.

This may work for its original audience but the Hindi version is messed up. Blessy turns Najeeb most unconvincingly into a man from Bombay who speaks only Hindi and can’t comprehend the Tamizh spoken by the only other slave-labourer who was there years before him. It’s difficult for the Hindi viewer to accept Najeeb as a Hindi-speaking Mumbaikar when the flashbacks are to an obvious Kerala and its renowned state culture with nothing to suggest Mumbai in him. There’s also so much exaggeration in the communication dilemma that after a while you wonder why, when they know they can’t understand each other, no sign language or any other way of communication is even attempted by Najeeb and the other labourer. They kept jabbering away incomprehensibly in their respective languages to show Najeeb’s growing frustration.

Blessy may have conceived it as a survival film like Life of Pi but, for all its technical brilliance, the horror of Najeeb’s situation is lost on the Hindi viewer with the overstretched desert escape.

The Goat Life – Watch Or Not?: It doesn’t work for the Hindi film audience.

The Goat Life Review Score Rating: 2.5 out of 5 (i.e. 2.5/5)

The Goat Life Official Trailer:

The Goat Life Official Trailer (Credits: Visual Romance)

Also Read: Crew Review: Chicks That Don’t Take Off

Lost In TranslationThe Goat Life Review: Lost In Translation