Dasara: Harmonious Routine
Star Cast: Nani, Keerthy Suresh, Samuthirakani, Shine Tom Chacko, Sai Kumar, Dheekshith Shetty, and Poorna.
Cinematography by Sathyan Sooryan
Music Composed by Santhosh Narayanan
Directed by Srikanth Odela. Dasara Review
We heard that sun (Soori) rotates around its axis, similarly to the earth (Dharani) and moon (Vennela). But they revolve around each other and depend on each other for their survival. According to the latest findings, Sun revolves around the Galaxy center – a huge wrapped mass created by a Massive Black Hole. This Black Hole needed to be the story in this Dasara film. Had it been so, Soori could have guided Dharani and Vennela also to have the strongest possible characters along with him. A storyteller always knows what story to pick or where the drama lies within. Srikanth Odela is technically sound and visually with a good technician, who can deliver. But writing-wise, he showed no strength in this movie.
HUGE SPOILER ALERT
Dharani going by the title needed to be as rocky, layered, and as chaotic as the rock that we call “Mother Earth“. Dhara in Telugu and Sanskrit means Abundance of Patience. Earth in its formative years (millions of years) – used to be chaotic with volcanic eruptions and asteroid hits. Slowly, those hits made it strong enough to develop a protective layering called the atmosphere. This gave scope for refining sunlight and the energy helped it to cool down to a point that today, humans exist on it. On the other hand, Moon is another rock that shines only when Sunlight falls on it and it revolves around Earth. If it orbits outside of the earth’s attraction, then its days of doom can be calculated very easily. Still, a Billion years there for such an event to take place. But what is constant – Sun. Yes, until at least it doesn’t become a White Dwarf, it is “permanent”. In our lifetime, it is. Vennela (Moonlight) will appear only when Sunlight is reflected from it. Otherwise, it is either a red ball or a big black dot in the night sky.
Apply all this to Dasara, Soori is the cog for Dharani and Vennela’s lives. They survive with him and almost for him. Vennela cannot shine bright (laugh) without Soori but can Moon orbit around Sun (Marry)? Cannot. Dharani (Earth)’s attraction, in the film’s case, love is stronger like Gravity and nearer than far away Sun. This is how the opening scene where Dharani introduces Vennela feels. Without Vennela, nights on earth won’t help nocturnal beings or humans to survive. Yes, today we have the power of light in bulbs and earlier it used to be in the form of candles. But before candles, before the invention of fire? If the jokester and myth-buster in you are satisfied, now, let’s concentrate on the point to be made. Earth is dependent on Moon for the tidal energy that helps sea water to carry out energy transfer even better. And Moon is also dependent on Earth otherwise it would be a vagabond in a lonely vast space. If Moon starts to fall in love with Sun, the attraction might be great and far more gravitated, but that would be the end of the Moon. The attraction would be so huge that moon will eventually burn out or splung into Sun. Even for its safety and security, Moon being attracted to Earth is a necessity.
In this story of Dasara, the entire hypothesis explained above applies. Soori‘s entrance into Vennela’s life changed her course. She ended up being alone in space where bad attractions could have forced her into suicide. Dharani’s presence helped her to shine again. As a story or short story, this feels great to read. When you bring it all on-screen, it needs a lot more than just analogies, metaphors, and could’ve been should’ve been situations. Dharani cannot escape the attraction, then what will he do to go away from their lives? If he does so, can he survive? What if he decides to do so and Soori leaves Moon or Vennela to bring Earth back? Sun and Earth being locked gravitationally over millions of km distance is known today. But long ago, no one knew. This Soori-Vennela-Dharani story belongs to that Long long ago. Hence, it doesn’t figure out the why’s and just showcases a few things and we are expected to understand them. If we cannot understand what the creator (if there is one) wants to say through the creation, then what will we figure out as the purpose of the Sun-Earth-Moon triangle? Nothing. We just assume. As this is not complicated Astro-Physics and Astronomy, Dasara does have a creator and he should have created answers for why’s than just saying that this is a film and these are the scenes – take what you want or leave it.
Where did he do that? – Nice. Tell me Where did he not? Dharani is said to be outwardly fearful but he gets a commercial hero entrance as it is a commercial star doing the character. What if Soori’s presence only forces Dharani to do things – not like playing cricket to help Soori, not like stepping into a bar where he isn’t welcome due to caste oppression to save him, not pushing himself and his friend into trouble by hitting a policeman? Even though Earth and Moon’s bond is breakable as Moon is moving away from Earth, literally, Earth and Sun’s bond is unbreakable. So much so that when Sun, eventually becomes Red Giant, Earth gets swallowed into expanded outer layers. We don’t get any whys to understand the depth of the bond from both sides. What can Soori do for Dharani? Because Dharani does everything – sacrifices love, hits anyone, takes revenge, accepts his widow as a wife, even becomes his father or brother or son – whom Hindu Dharma gives a right to perform last rituals. Soori tries to do something and Universe chops off his head. Why not before that aspect some more drama? Why should Soori know the truth on the wedding night? Why not a day before? What he would have done then? What Vennela would’ve done? These questions might seem like I am asking for my preference to be shown on screen but they would’ve added layers to one-dimensional characters that never do anything. They just live and certain things happen by themselves as Earth is rotating and creating this illusion of time. Yes, the Script and Screenplay are also an illusion in this film. They are existent but somewhere in a visual where coal dust is flying around. Somewhere in a Silk Bar and somewhere underground where all weapons (pens, papers, laptops) are hidden. It is absent after the introduction and it is absent after interval twist and during climax, it feels so distant that it stops even appearing in those flashy visuals.
A line, a metaphor, or a visual cannot create drama. Saying that Hanuman becomes Rama in the absence of Rama, doesn’t make any sense. Ram is Ram and Hanuman is Hanuman. There can never be two Rams – Valmiki said this with the Parasuram sequence – and yet Srikanth Odela tried an illusion of creating two Rams or equating Hanuman to Ram. Who is Hanuman and who is Rama? Even the director cannot clearly state it. Because Dharani appears like Hanuman with the neck locket and mythological inspiration – Hanuman doesn’t remember his strength until someone reminds him – Dharani cannot overcome his fear unless he drinks alcohol. Still, he ends up with Sita, who is lusted after by Ravana (Chinna Nambi), so he has to be Rama. Who is Soori then? Does he become a tree? According to some stories – Sita got married to a tree before Rama, as she had a Dosha. Valmiki Ramayana doesn’t mention it or clearly state if Sita is elder to Rama. Still for this film and analogy, because Sita (Vennela) had a dosha of losing her first husband, Soori like a tree sacrificed by the storyteller and real Ram (Dharani) came out. Well, in this case, Hanuman’s locket can be called as the friend that helped him to overcome fears. See, when you write something in so long long ago format, the assumptions go brutally wild. So, like Galileo, if someone can bring a telescope to watch into the vast minefield of a script with gaping holes, one may be able to clearly define the characters, their arcs, and the plot. Valmiki clearly mentions Ramayana is about King Rama who became Lord because he eliminated a Demon. One of the 1000 bad traits gloriously visible in Ravana is Lust. He is not eliminated because he lusts after Sita, but it is used as the reason to eliminate him. Valmiki says so, not me. Dasara Review
So, Soori loving Vennela, Dharani loving Vennela, and even Villain lusting after Vennela leaves us with nothing but a simple, for the lack of a better word, silly or silk-y adaptation of Ramayana. A film story needs a strong foundation, a base where important characters are clearly defined. Even in KGF  – every character is defined. The world of KGF is cruel and brutal still it leaves space for a mother to pop in. For a friendship to build, for a love to blossom, and for a rivalry to magnify. Here, all Dharani had to do is wait for him the Chinna Nambi to come back to his house and slash his head from his neck. Where is the need for him to marry Vennela? Where is the need for him to say a heroic line like, “I will bring him out in front of everyone“. Why did Chinna Nambi’s wife (Poorna) not revolt against him when he touched another woman? When she can reveal it to her husband’s father and ask him to stop him, why did she not do so? What makes Chinna Nambi, so threatening? His ability to catch a Cock and beat it to death? His ability to lose a cricket match? His ability to lose an election to Rajanna (Sai Kumar) and stay silent? His ability to not rebel against his father? What makes him threatening? In my book, he is just a mean guy with money who can hire a few rowdies. If I want to make a statement, I can make it by bringing his chopped head to Silk Bar and sitting there. Only if my purpose is to change the lives of people by force and ask them to stop drinking, then I need to be strong enough to kill 30 people in front of a crowd to fear me.
But then that makes me rowdy, not a hero. Still, I am ready to take it for a good purpose. Even this kind of justification is not given. Again, we have to assume this and we have to think that this might be the director or writer’s intention. Because they won’t try to be clear when they can blatantly state that it is Veerlapally Ramayana and overtly call it Dasara. The political angle should have been the main cause for the villagers not realising the side effects of alcoholism and being content with one-quarter of alcohol for life. Gets completely side-lined for an unnecessary twist. Had the film just been a political drama, the definitions would have been clear. Dharani is asked to marry Vennela by Soori. Vennela tries to honor her childhood friend and one day her husband’s dying wish. But she is unable to accept and for Dharani, she is still Soori’s wife. Now, politically Chinna Nambi is trying hard to win it all back. Soori wanted an alcohol-free life for himself and Dharani, as per Vennela – a teacher’s wishes, an alcoholic would have had to give up. Vennela would’ve had to understand the love and responsibility of Dharani. Slowly, the lover in Dharani should’ve asked him to accept Vennela as his wife and when she ultimately accept him, he should’ve finally let go of the feeling of being with his friend’s widow and wife. Well, the same film without that twist, sounds much better and much more focused on reforms. Rajanna, Shivanna, Chinna Nambi, and everyone else would not have been caricatures. Social reform even though leaves us with drawing parallels to Kantara  and Rangasthalam , would have been a much more focused and massy version of Rudraveena . If it had to be a lusty villain then Kaliyuga Ravanasurudu ’s film way, would’ve been much more prominent than this Dasara way of either here or there.
Nani did everything he can. Changed his body language, gave enough screen time to other characters, gave up on his usual strengths and even let his dialogue delivery be changed to Srikanth Odela’s liking. While he shines, the film doesn’t. As for rest, all are left to be caricatures. All did their parts well but writers dug a hole to hide their equipment. Thankfully, Cinematographer Sathyan Sooryan and Musician Santhosh Narayanan did not do so. Dasara is supposed to be a festival of Harmony. Rather this film ends up being a celebration of the Harm-onus routine. While we cannot experience even Sun-Earth-Moon don’t stick to a routine. Their routine lies in orbiting and revolving around some heavier mass than them, the path defers, and the effect is mutual however small and tiny or minuscule they might be. When such big things want a slight change in their routine why can’t a commercial film be something bigger than that routine and a long long ago, so long ago story? Maybe because we can’t get a Valmiki to dramatise what happened or imagine what could happen and write an original in the times of “copy-paste adaptative inspirations”.
Theatrical Trailer: Dasara Review