Lovers of Indian cinema will find an antidote to slick Bollywood entertainments in this modest social drama, shot in the rural south with a cast of nonprofessionals. Fourteen-year-old Vanaja (Bhukya), daughter of a poor fisherman, dreams of studying classical dance and indentures herself to the feudal village landlady (Dammannagari), a great performer in her youth. The girl excels at her art—there are several engaging musical sequences—but when she is raped by the landlady’s privileged son (Singh), she discovers the confines of her caste and sex. Vanaja’s narrative meanders, but the film evokes village life with stark authenticity.
Cast and crew