Average Rating: 6.9/10
Reviews Counted: 27
Fresh: 22 | Rotten: 5
No consensus yet.
Average Rating: 6.8/10
Critic Reviews: 14
Fresh: 11 | Rotten: 3
No consensus yet.
Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 1,778
With the haunting adolescent drama Vanaja, Indian writer-director Rajnesh Domalpalli rewrites the oft-told tale of a young girl's journey into womanhood, by filtering its parameters through an indigenous Indian cultural lens and the concept of the caste system. The picture's title character is a fifteen-year-old girl living and coming of age in a seaside village in India. Vanaja's heart longs to enter the household of Rama Devi, under whose tutelage she can master the South Indian narrative
Oct 20, 2006 Wide
Mar 28, 2008
Emerging Pictures - Official Site
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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.
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.
A wondrous piece of filmmaking and a sensitive, engaging movie from a first-time filmmaker working on a shoestring budget with a cast of nonactors.
There's loads of atmosphere and charm to this tale, but little that seems compelling or heartfelt to the drama, which in contrast feels sketchy and contrived, without a clear sense of character beyond conceptualized stick figures.
Stunning portrait of caste oppression in South India, as well as the struggle of a young woman from the lower caste's to elevate herself through dance.
[The film] shows, through Bhukya's heartbreaking performance, the difficulties faced by those trying to bust through the layers of class oppression.
A large chunk of the film's success rests on the shoulders of its young star, Mamatha Bhukya.
Written and directed by Rajnesh Domalpalli as his graduate thesis at Columbia University, Vanaja is an engaging and shocking look at class, gender roles and sexuality in rural India.
I wish that I could also highlight the film as the best thesis film I saw in 2007, but with Charles Burnett's Killer of Sheep re-released earlier this year, Vanaja unfortunately has to settle for second place.
[Domalpalli] adds to the glory of contemporary Indian cinema, indeed all cinema, with the humanity of his vision, healthily unbridled sensuality and fluid technique.
Simultaneously resigned, frustrated, cautiously hopeful, angry and ravishingly beautiful, this story of an impoverished country girl who tries to better herself through Indian classical dance is a stunning debut for writer-director Rajnesh Domalpalli.
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