‘Dorasaani’ review: a romance that wasn’t allowed to be

An oft-told tragic romance gets a new lease of life, unfolding in rural Telangana of the 80s

Dorasaani can be likened to a Sairat, if you will, set in rural Telangana of the 1980s, where the fault lines of social hierarchies run deep. Or, it can be viewed as a Romeo-Juliet kind of tragic romance, he looking up to the first floor windows to catch her gaze. The story of a poor boy falling in love with a rich girl, if narrated well, can still have that universal resonance, especially in the context of ‘honour’ killings. Incidentally, the story is inspired by true incidents.

After languishing in prison for about 30 years, a Communist rebel (essayed by Kishore) is free to go home. He has no home, but he wants to go and find out what happened to a boy he met — Raju — and if indeed he married the dorasaani (dora refers to the zamindar/landlord and his daughter is the dorasaani). When the prison warden asks if Raju was another Naxal, pat comes the reply ‘premikudu’ (a guy in love).

A lot has changed in 30 years. The village doesn’t remember Raju or his father, who eked out a living by whitewashing homes. ‘Who does whitewashing these days?’ someone laughs. The now abandoned zamindar’s house and the rocky terrain bear witness to a story that happened long ago. Hidden among the rocks is a sheath of papers, and a red-hued cloth. The pamphlets had once been circulated by the rebels; behind these red-toned pages, Raju had scribbled poems of love. Red is both the colour of rebellion and of love, contrasting the pistachio green ambassador and the earthy terrains of the hamlet.Dorasaani

  • Cast: Anand Deverakonda, Shivathmika Rajashekar, Vinay Varma
  • Direction: K V R Mahendra
  • Music: Prashanth Vihari

In the world inhabited by dorasaani (Shivathmika), most villagers didn’t know her name — Devaki. She’s the chinna dorasaani and no one dares to turn their gaze towards the zamindar’s palatial home, and, to her. She studies in the city, sheltered by her brother and his wife, and has come home on a break. Dressed in all finery, she’s that proverbial bird in a golden cage. Much later, when she steps out on a moonlit night, she will remark that she never thought the world is so beautiful. Opening up her world is Raju (Anand Deverakonda), who is also studying in the city and has come home for vacation.

He is acutely aware of the class hierarchy, and doesn’t hide his dislike for it. He’s thankful that his parents have had the courage to dream beyond their means and encouraged him to study. He tells his friends, all of whom have remained voiceless in the village, to study — not to get a job, but to empower themselves.

Both Anand and Shivathmika are debut actors with promise, in sync with their respective roles. Anand’s voice and looks are a huge reminder of his much-famous brother, Vijay Deverakonda, but it’s easier to connect with Anand as the film progresses and he puts forth a convincing performance. Shivathmika establishes dorasaani with innocence and an old world charm; she shines in that sequence in the police station.

What works for the film is their performance, along with the way KVR Mahendra establishes the romance. The childhood episodes, for instance, are revealed to Devaki at a stage when she’s already drawn to Raju without any preconceived notions. Poetry scribbled on walls and narrated over the only telephone line in the village, strengthens the bond.

Prashanth Vihari’s score has its roots in classical music and carries with it every emotion demanded by the story. The fear of young love being discovered by dora (Vinay Varma with his intimidating presence) and at the same time, the growth of the Communist movement, all get conveyed through the score. The production design and cinematography (Sunny Kurapati) also ensure that we see a lived-in village of the 80s.

However, when you strip off these refinements of the milieu, there isn’t much happening in terms of the plot. The two sub plots, one involving Kishore and the other featuring Sharanya (remember her as Sai Pallavi’s sister from Fidaa?) could have been explored more effectively.

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