The seventh animated short in Volume 2 of Lucasfilm’s anthology project Star Wars: Visions comes from the Indian studio 88 Pictures (Trollhunters, Wizards: Tales of Arcadia) and is entitled “The Bandits of Golak.” It tells the story of a brother traveling with his younger sister across a desert world while attempting to avoid the Empire and its Inquisitors.
“The Bandits of Golak” opens on a train speeding through the desert, on which a teenage boy named Charuk (voiced by Indian actor Suraj Sharma from Life of Pi) attempts to have his younger sister Rani (Doraemon’s Sonal Koushal) keep a low profile during their voyage. But when Charuk leaves their seats to buy sweets for Rani, she demonstrates Force usage by removing a flute from his pocket, drawing the attention of Imperial stormtroopers aboard the train. An exciting action sequence ensues, wherein Charuk tries to distract the stormtroopers from locating his Force-sensitive sisters, only to become entangled in an attack by local rebels. After this incident, Rani and Charuk arrive at a small village and are welcomed by an elderly woman called Rugal (Lillete Dubey of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel fame) who allows them to stay and eat. But the arrival of a Sith Inquisitor (Neeraj Kabi from Ship of Theseus) forces Rugal to reveal her true nature as a Jedi Knight, culminating in a climactic battle sequence between the two characters.
This short ends in a similar way to what we saw in “Screecher’s Reach,” with Rani being taken under the wing of an older Force user, though this time around Rugal certainly seems to be on the other side of the ongoing battle between good and evil. I really liked how 88 Pictures brought a distinctly, undeniably Indian flavor to “The Bandits of Golak,” while still keeping things pretty firmly grounded in the Star Wars galaxy. The animation is bright and energetic in the best Bollywood style, though– for better or for worse– there are no musical numbers to be seen. My only real gripe here is that we’re back to lightsaber duels again after a couple more innovative takes on the Star Wars: Visions concept. Still, the design, attitude, and performance of the Inquisitor is enough to keep things interesting, and I liked the protective relationship between brother and sister, loyal partners in fleeing from the forces of darkness.
My Vol. 2 ranking so far:
1 – “I Am Your Mother”
2 – “Screecher’s Reach”
3 – “The Spy Dancer”
4 – “In the Stars”
5 – “Sith”
6 – “The Bandits of Golak”
7 – “Journey to the Dark Head”
Star Wars: Visions Vol. 2 is now streaming in its entirety, exclusively via Disney+.