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Dasara Is Disgracefully Shoddy & Misguided





Rating: **

Nani is a very competent  actor. But he  is  not an actor  who can play  a ruffian comfortably. He tries hard. With his tanned  complexion(half the  budget  must have gone in buying bootpolish  because  as  we know, all  lower-caste  characters  in our  movies  have to be dark skinned)   and  flamboyant  expressions of  retro-ruggedness(the  film is set in the 1980s in a village of alcoholics in Andhra  Pradesh)  Nani plays Dharani,a character   from the same lineage  as  Allu Arjun in Pushpa The Rise , except for the fact  that Allu Arjun’s shifts from rustic and aggressive to  a one-man  killing machine were  interesting to watch.

 Nani is  painfully selfconscious  in his tribal avatar . His  performance is so choked with sincerity you feel like telling him to take it easy. Dikshith Shetty who plays Nani’s  chaddhi buddy Suri comes  across as relatively relaxed. Keerthi Suresh  who plays the third  angle in this  rough dread-neck triangle is  incredibly hammy and  loud. What a comedown for the actress who  was so brilliant  in Saani Kaayidham.

Only the Malayali actor Shine Tom Chacko makes some effort at  nuance in a film steeped in barbaric  caste and  choler(anger)  stereotypes. Chacko as Chinna Nambi has nothing to do except act mean with his dignified wife (Shamna Kasim) and lust after Vennela in strawberry fields(in  a manner of speaking)  . To prove how perverse Chinna is,we are told he  sniffs at  Vanella’s saree(when she’s wearing them or on the clothes line , we don’t know)  and  thinks of her while making  love to his wife.

 Dirty boy!  Speaking  of which , everyone except Keerthy looks unwashed .Not surprising, since  the men spend  all the time warring and  drinking. The village we see in Dasara is as anarchic as Mexico during drug season. Veerlapally is  run by the alcohol mafia.When Dharani and Suri fight them, tragedy  strikes in  waves that are as familiar as  the Maldives  beaches.

There is nothing in Dasara that is even remotely  original let alone attention-grabbing except for a  cloistered chase through the village between the  two heroes  and  the bad guys  who are duly masked, and  not because they fear  Covid.

The  climax  at a Ram Navami festival with an effigy of Ravana being torched symbolically while  Dharani and the  villain fight it out, is  denuded of  all thrill and excitement. It all seems  shamefully assemblyline. Making it worse was  the Hindi dubbing which is  so uneven it makes the characters  sound twice more dumb than they actually are.

The songs too have been translated  wholesale with not a thought for rhyme or reason. I am sure the  film’s intended energy is far more  manifested in the original Telugu version. In Hindi , Dasara seems  a poorly scripted and acted country-cousin to Pushpa The Rise… Dharani The Fall.

Sathyan Sooryan’s vigorous  cinematography survives the  brutal assault on the senses  by other technicians  who feel relentless motion  can cover up for the lack of authentic emotions.  Even a mass funeral sequence seems overly theatrical . Melodrama is a  grave matter in Dasara.

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