Release Date: August 31st, 2007 (Cinema Village) by Emerging Pictures.
The Cast: Mamatha Bhukya,Urmila Dammannagari, Karan Singh, Ramachandriah Marikanti. Directed by Rajnesh Domalpalli.
In Telugu with subtitles.
BASIC PREMISE: Vanaja (Bhukya), a 14-year old South Indian girl from a poor family who works for a landlady, Rama (Dammannagari), and must come to terms when Shekhar (Singh), Rama’s son, rapes and impregnates her.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Vanaja feels mildly engaging with decent acting, strong character development, but an uneven plot that occasionally drags. Mamatha Bhukya, in her acting debut, plays the titular character, Vanaja, a young teenage daughter of a poor fisherman from a rural town in South India. To financially support her father, Vanaja becomes a servant for a Rama, a strict landlady who used to be Kuchipudi dancer and now gives her dance lessons. Just when you think the plot will be focused on their tense relationship, Rama’s son, Shekhar, a political activist, visits home and flirts with Vanaja. He turns her world upside down when he rapes and impregnates her, which leaves her with the dilemma of whether or not to keep the baby because in that culture, unmarried women with children are looked down upon. She hasn’t even let Shekhar know that she’s pregnant with his baby. Should she marry someone who raped her just to save her reputation? At this point in the plot, writer/director Rajnesh Damalpalli includes some contrived scenes that seem tedious, uneven and occasionally drag. It would have been more compelling to include more scenes during which Vanaja and Rama interact with one another. Fortunately, the vibrant dancing sequences, along with Mamatha Bhukya’s very convincing performance, help you to be marginally immersed into the character-driven, yet unfocused narrative.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: At such a tender, innocent age, Vanaja already deals with the very grown-up issues of motherhood and marriage, so it’s quite heart-wrenching to watch her come of age in this overwhelming way. The decisions that she makes during this ordeal force her to prepare for life’s harsh realities which will certainly affect her for the rest of her life.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Occasionally tedious, contrived and uneven.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 3
IN A NUTSHELL: Well-acted and heart-wrenching with vibrant dance sequences, but the slightly uneven, contrived plot occasionally drags.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: DVD
The "V" Menu