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Monday, July 13, 2020

Dorasaani movie review: A squandered opportunity

In Dorasaani, Mahendra uses the feudal backdrop as a bait to lure in the viewers. Only after we take the bite, we realize that the film has no depth and the director was only splashing in shallow waters.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Written by Manoj Kumar R | Bengaluru | Published: July 13, 2019 8:35:01 am
Dorasaani movie review Dorasaani movie review: The film sets up the audience for a-knife-in-the-gut but only delivers a rap on the knuckles. 

Dorasaani movie cast: Anand Deverakonda, Shivathmika Rajashekar
Dorasaani movie director: K.V.R. Mahendra
Dorasaani movie rating: 2.5 stars

In Dorasaani, debutant director K.V.R. Mahendra has reimagined Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet-esque story in the context of the class struggle in Telangana in the 19th century. Raju (debutant Anand Deverakonda) falls in love with Devaki aka Dorasani (also debutant Shivathmika Rajashekar). And, the hero becomes restless to an extent that he even risks gruesome death by sneaking into the compound of Dorasani, who is the daughter of the village landlord.

It’s just a matter of time before Devaki start reciprocating Raju’s overtures. She was always feared and revered but no living man in her life ever approached her with romantic motives. She gives into Raju’s bold moves and even begins appreciating her own beauty. The daring gestures of Devaki and Raju to profess their love for each other is what gets you hooked to the narrative.

The feudal system that treats the working class people with extreme prejudice only adds to your anxiety. You fear the cruelest of cruel punishment that Raju might get when he’s caught kissing Devaki not once but twice. As you prepare yourself to encounter a gut-wrenching scene, the hot-headed thugs that are conditioned to kill without thinking twice start showing qualities like discretion, and even kindness.

The point is that the film sets up the audience for a-knife-in-the-gut but only delivers a rap on the knuckles. The very reason why we worry about the well-being of the young lovers is the barbarism of the feudal masters. It stills beats logic why Mahendra would downplay the atrocities and medieval ways the landlords dealt with their opponents.

The discrimination against working class people, brewing communist rebellion, police brutality, and hapless position of the women under the feudal law, such critical and engrossing themes just get a passing reference in the film. It is criminal to let such rich set up go to waste because Mahendra was not ready to dig deep.

We have seen numerous screen adaptations of the classic Romeo and Juliet story in the past. Last year, film editor B. Ajithkumar reinterpreted the classic premise in the light of the growing culture of political killings in modern-day Kannur with his directorial debut, Eeda. The focus of the Malayalam film was more on the senseless violence than the longing of the star-crossed lovers. The lead pair mainly suffered from their inability to understand their respective families’ thirst for blood. The never agonised over the possibility of never having a happy ending to their love story.

In Dorasaani, Mahendra uses the feudal backdrop as a bait to lure in the viewers. Only after we take the bite, we realize that the film has no depth and the director was only splashing in shallow waters.

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