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Vanaja is fifteen, beautiful and far too impulsive for her own good. In a seaside village in India's Andhra Pradesh state, trouble will find a girl like this and Vanaja meets trouble halfway. Ambitious to a fault, Vanaja talks her way into the household of Mrs. Rama Devi, the landlady who rules over the entire village. Rama Devi is a past master of kuchipudi, a South Indian narrative dance usually reserved for highcaste Brahmins. Despite her social position, Vanaja is desperate to learn. She insinuates herself into the mistress's favor, but is undone when Shekhar returns to the household. He is the mistress's son, and reckless when it comes to women. He takes advantage of Vanaja, leaving her pregnant. But Rama Devi is grooming her son for political office and will not abide a child born out of wedlock to a low-caste village girl. … More
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Critic Reviews for Vanaja
Bhukya delivers an entrancing and natural performance, deftly balancing both the wide-eyed childishness of a young girl with the dawning awareness of life's darker possibilities.
Vanaja is a timeless story of dignity maintained against all odds.
This is heart-wrenching Indian drama in the vein of Deepa Mehta's recent Water, again dealing with a young girl trying to find her self-worth in the midst of a repressive caste system and physical abuse.
It's not easy to make a very sad movie that doesn't make you want to jump out a window when it's over. Vanaja pulls this off.
Vanaja, a beautiful and heart-touching film from India, represents a miracle of casting. Every role, including the challenging central role of a low-caste 14-year-old girl, is cast perfectly and played flawlessly.
Rajnesh Domalpalli made this poignant 2006 drama as his thesis film for a master's degree at Columbia University, yet its technique and development of character and theme are far more accomplished than those of most student films.
Audience Reviews for Vanaja
Many Bollywood films are obsessed with material dreams, often depicting how a lower caste/class girl can find romance and fortune within the security of the lighter-skinned wealthy castes. This superb production undoes such a stereotype. Material ambitions can only prove devastating to a dark-skinned 15 year-old adolescent who wishes to exceed her fate, although all long within her soul there remains, as well, a sense of grace. Vanaja is directed with restraint by Rajnesh Domalpalli. It is an illuminating Hindi film and a credit to the fine arts program at Columbia University, which sponsored this project.
A heartrending story plot that centralizes on a young fifteen year old girl who dreams of becoming a dancer someday. In order to provide, and pay her father's debt, Vanaja works in the home of Rama Devi. It is there that she helps with the household chores, and takes dancing lessons. Soon after, Rama Devi's son Shekhar returns. Headstrong and outspoken, Vanaja suffers a horrific deal that ultimately changes her life.
Mamatha Bhukya, Urmila Dammannagari, Karan Singh, and Ramachandriah Marikanti stars. Worthy!
Primarily a sad movie, based on dancing and the dreams of a poor girl who ends up being forced to grow up, but I see how this relate to many countries where the poverty is so inmense, this actually is a fact of life!
I think the dancing made this movie great!!!!
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