By Rohith Raju
Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews
Amidst the mainstream era that’s prevailing all over, we hardly have time and patience for art films. Right? Perhaps! Are we that busy that we have no time to spend on a film that’s bundled with profound cinematic aesthetics and opus, offbeat sensibilities, and lot of inspiration and reality to derive that will certainly change the way we think about society, finally leading us to empathize with the film’s persona? Not time, a little bit of patience will do it keenly.
Regarding that, I would like to take honour to critique Rajnesh Domalpalli’s ‘Vanaja’ which never got a release in India. May be he needs an introduction and so his film too, as the number of art film viewers in Telugu are in negligible count compared to other regions. And I hope this film gets a release in India soon.
Rajnesh opens the film with a kid trying to disrobe ‘Vanaja’ (lived by Mamatha Bhukya, a 14-year-old girl) followed by a stage performance of a troop, only to bring to life the extinct art of ‘Burra Katha’. Vanaja, then, gets a chance to encounter one of the soothsayers of that troop, who was in her final years. She discloses Vanaja that she will become a great dancer, and goddess ‘Parvati’ is the only rival for her. This inspires her to learn dance with the assistance of the village’s landlord, who’s also a dancer. Soon Vanaja gets employed in that landlady’s house and entices her to get trained in dance. With all her resolution and yearning, she aces the Kuchipudi dance in almost no time. The ‘Thillana Dance’ made me awestruck. The kind of experience it gives, the essence of music built in it, the dedication of Vanaja to accomplish it, enlightened me to a much greater extent. And, life seems happy for her, but she’s not aware of the mishap that’s about to happen to her.
After a glimpse at the picture, what tickled on your mind? Why is she crying? What’s the trauma she has encountered? Has anyone clobbered her? Or, did she…? All your assumptions go in vain when you discern about her pathetic turmoil. The landlady’s son, who has arrived from states, has exploited Vanaja’s virginity at just the beginning of her puberty. Now, just imagine what would be going on in her conscience? What could she do now? The totality of her life has undergone inevitable changes. Vanaja, being a low-caste girl, has no choice left to marry that landlady’s son due to caste disparities. Besides this, her father’s solace to alcohol topples her in a woeful way. But she harbours courage in her to confront the repercussion which, for her and people of such kind, is a cumbersome task.
After hearing everyone’s suggestions, Vanaja resists to abort. She doesn't seem to reciprocate. May be for couple of reasons; as the baby being the only evidence for the sin the landlady’s son have committed, or she would have owned the baby that she’s carrying, realizing that she had became a mother.
With things being forging drastically, either for good or bad, Vanaja, in little time, engenders motherly love towards the child. She wishes to raise him. But, however, she’s aware of the fact that she can only be his mother and cannot nurture him to be a doctor or an engineer. And everyone’s asking these questions; will her future partner accept her? How could she manage both career and the baby? Having keenly scrutinizing the circumstances, Vanaja is seen quite contented having left her son with them to grow in a fortunate way, only because of the landlady who promised that she would send child back to her in future. It’s the best she can do, to be precise. And in the end, there’s a sense of positivity in her words hoping for a better tomorrow.
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