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Dollu Movie Review

by rameshe

Critic’s Rating : / 5

Dollu Movie Review : An empowering tale of preserving folk arts

Plot: Bhadra, a dollu kunitha artiste, is torn between preserving the traditions of his ancestors and fighting with his friends who are succumbing to the alluring city life, as opposed to the meagre money that their art offers. How does he manage to fight this problem?

Review: Dollu is the full-length feature film debut of Sagar Puranik, which has fetched him many accolades, including the National Award for Best Kannada Film. It also marks the debut of Pavan Wadeyar as a producer. What is heartening about Dollu is that it chooses to tell a tale that is native to Karnataka, showcasing the truth about traditional arts, and yet has a universal appeal. One walks out of the theatre feeling positive, empowered and optimistic, which is the film’s biggest win.

Dollu begins with the viewers being introduced to the mythological tale behind the dollu kunitha art form, which also introduces us to the town where the film is set. One gets to see some breathtakingly-choreographed sequences of the art form, while also understanding how tough it is for traditional folk artistes to survive in a world where a quick buck is more luring than toiling hard to make much less money pursuing their passion. Bhadra, the protagonist, is torn between these two worlds, as he strives hard to keep alive the dance form and the age-old traditions.

Where Dollu scores is the fact that while it is doesn’t have mainstream narrative, there are enough money shots that ensure that it remains entertaining. There is also a degree of sensitivity in the dialogues and treatment that lends gravitas to the film. For instance, while the film primarily focuses on Bhadra and his set of friends, his sister Lachchi and love interest Priya have well-written scenes at crucial points that talk about pertinent topics like consent and inclusivity. This is a welcome change as most films have these thoughts being mansplained. Here, there are strong women characters that know to speak their mind, which is refreshing.

Apart from Sagar’s taut direction, the film also scores big in terms of cinematography and sound design, both of which are crucial to the narrative. Abhilash Kalathi deserves special mention for his camerawork, with long and wide shots that create the ambience for the story. The sound design, especially for the performance and practice sequences, stands out.

Debutant Karthik Mahesh shines in this film; his performance seems effortless. Nidhi Hegde and Sharanya Suresh deliver what is required in crucial moments. The ensemble has mostly newcomers and all of them add their natural charm, which lends a sense of authenticity and credibility to this tale that shies away from overly melodramatic sequences. Dollu definitely will remain one of the most refreshing tales that have been told in recent times.

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