Director: Sagar Puranik
Cast: Karthik Mahesh, Babu Hirannaiah and Nidhi Hegde
Pravaha (2004), and Bharat Stores (2013), the two award-winning Kannada feature films, dealt with the onslaught of globalization and urbanization on local traders and rural artisans. They advocated the need for transformation with changing times while emphasizing the importance of reviving tradition.
‘Dollu’, by debutant Sagar Puranik, goes in the same direction. The film won 17 awards at national and international festivals, including the National Award for Best Kannada Film. It is a tale of Dollu Kunitha, a fading folk tradition involving explosive drumbeats, dance and devotion in perfect synergy.
The film, which is set in a rural setting, deals with the life of Bhadra, a young Dollu dancer. For Bhadra’s father, Dollu Kunitha is sacred and should not be used for money or practiced by women.
Bhadra and his friends interpret Dollu Kunitha, for meager earnings, which attracts the wrath of his father. The friends abandon Dollu Kunitha and move to Bengaluru for better income. Left alone, Bhadra pledges to ensure that the art survives and that the annual performance at the temple continues.
He leaves for Bangalore, intending to bring his friends back, just for four days for the annual performance. However, they reject his idea as they would lose money by missing work.
Will Bhadra manage to organize an annual performance without his friends? Is there hope for art? These questions find answers in the climax.
Sagar uses powerful imagery to portray a conflict between an elderly father and a young son. Aspects like passion and inevitability, tradition and modernity are well integrated into the story. He spins the climax with his feminist approach. It’s still a bit predictable.
Abhilash Kalathi’s cinematography captures the rhythm, movement and pure, thrilling energy of dance. Ananth Kamath M’s soundtrack is soothing. Karthik Mahesh, Nidhi Hegde and Sharanya Suresh deliver powerful performances.
The pace of the film slows down a bit while the treatment of the theme of migration is incomplete. The absence of intense movements or heartbreaking scenes are the disadvantages of Dollu.