Vanaja | Chicago Reader


Rajnesh Domalpalli made this poignant 2006 drama as his thesis film for a master's degree at Columbia University, yet its technique and development of character and theme are far more accomplished than those of most student films. The title character (Mamatha Bhukya) is a motherless 15-year-old forced to support herself and her drunken, penniless father. After hiring on with a wealthy old woman who was once a famous dancer, she persuades her employer to teach her the classical dramatic form of Kuchipudi, but she can't outwit the lecherous young master of the house. The casting of amateur actors lends the story verisimilitude, as do the rugged south Indian locations, their colors brilliantly captured on Super-16 film by Milton Kam. In Telugu with subtitles. 112 min.


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