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Product Details

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • ASIN: B0013K8LC0
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa0331540) out of 5 stars 22 reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0431c00) out of 5 stars Outstanding Indian drama about class and choices May 2 2008
By Gerard D. Launay - Published on
Format: DVD
Lovers of foreign cinema will not want to miss this simple,yet moving story of a young girl from an inferior class who wants to make something of herself through dance. Music, dance, color all add to the splendor of this film, but what really makes it work is the strong performance of the lead character - a young girl who challenges her position in society by seeking out a great teacher of Indian classical dance. After some difficulty, she persuades the teacher to give her private lessons at no charge.

Problems occur when she disobeys her teacher, and when she attracts the sexual interest of the teacher's son. Everything about this film feels authentic. It is neither a scathing comment on the plight of the poor or the caste system, nor an overly sentimentalized version of a person overcoming her social disabilities. Recommended.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa061de1c) out of 5 stars A true work of art and a masterpiece July 22 2008
By Sreeram Dhurjaty - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The movie is in Telugu with English subtitles and not in Hindi as a another reviewer suggests.

I was fortunate to attend a private screening of this movie, in NYC, by the director Domalpalli. This movie is a true work of art reminiscent of early Satyajit Ray. Knowledge of the Telugu language enhances the experience that this movie conveys, even with excellent subtitles.

Using amateur actors Domalpalli has captured the strains of the caste and class system which are real in rural India. There are many poignant scenes in this movie where the aspirations of a young girl are pitted against the shackles of class and caste. Each character in this film adds to the rich dimensionality of emotions that are conveyed by this film This film has made very good use of color and sound in order to enhance the visual as well as auditory experience..

Unlike "bollywood" movies where there are characters that are only good or bad, each character in this movie exhibits both qualities, to a greater or lesser extent, and the depiction of these is a tribute to the Director's artistry.

I would have expected this film to be more popular especially, in India, where it has not been released. The lack of financial resources seems to have handicapped the producer and director in giving this film the much wider audience that it richly deserves. I also suspect that this movie is too close for comfort to some who would rather sweep issues, such as caste and class, under the rug.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa04609b4) out of 5 stars "Only Goddess Parvati Will Rival You In Dance" May 18 2008
By Brian E. Erland - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Note: Hindi with English subtitles.

To be honest, I have to admit to having mixed feelings about `Vanaya', the award winning Indian film from '07. Immediately enthralled at the beginning by the exotic and beautifully captured visuals of rural India, the mesmerizing Kuchipudi music and dancing and the innocent, genuine charm of its young star Mamatha Bhukya I couldn't wait for the story to unfold.

Unfortunately midway through the film the storyline abruptly changes course with the arrival of Shekhar (Karan Singh) a potential love interest and eventual male antagonist. This addition delegated the music and dance aspect of the film to a minor subplot substituting class struggle, caste system concerns and gender issues in its place. In my opinion in doing so they ultimately neglect the most appealing aspect of the story.

Please don't mistake this slight personal disappointment of mine to mean that this isn't an excellent film because it definitely is. I just feel it would have been more effective as an exploration of the cultural and spiritual roots of the dance rather than the social commentary it evolved into. Nevertheless 'Vanaja' is a quality film that deserves to be seen by a wide audience. Recommended viewing.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0eaba5c) out of 5 stars Insightful movie about the caste system in India Sept. 18 2009
By Z Hayes - Published on
Format: DVD
"Vanaja" is a Telugu movie (with English subtitles) which won a couple of film awards, most notably the Best First Feature award at the Berlin International Film Festival. The movie explores the life of a low-caste, impoverished young girl, 15-year-old Vanaja [Mamatha Bhukya] who lives with her fisherman father in a little village in Andhra Pradesh, India. The girl is bright, and eager to learn, but financial need necessitates her taking a job in the household of Rama Devi, a rich local landlady. Rama Devi is well-versed in the Indian dance form Kuchipudi, and when Vanaja shows an interest, the landlady agrees to instruct her. Things seem to go really well for Vanaja, as she matures into a competent dancer, until the landlady's son returns from the States.

The story up to this point was a joy to watch, as the viewer gets to see an awkward young girl, who is also very poor, come into her own. The dance sequences have a certain air of innocence to them as Vanaja learns the movements and begins to compete. But the story, predictably [this being a social commentary film] takes a dark turn. Vanaja's sexual awakening is explored in brief, something that leads to an unwanted pregnancy, resulting in questions - will Vanaja abort or keep the baby? How will this impact her dancing? Does she have a future? Can she overcome the constraints imposed by the harsh, unforgiving caste system?

Mamatha Bhukya may appear too young to play a 15-year-old [she seems more like 12 or 13], but she plays her role to perfection. Her performance mesmerizes from the first scene till the last. There is an air of innocence and naivete about her, but also a shrewdness and street smartness that makes her wise up to the ways of the world very quickly. And when she's vulnerable, exposed, and hurting, she breaks one's heart.

Recommended for all those who are keen on social commentary films, dealing with the themes of exploitation, caste, female empowerment etc. Another movie I watched years ago which also dealt with the caste system in India and had a powerful impact on me was Vedham Puthithu in Tamil.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0854c84) out of 5 stars this movie is for REAL! Jan. 5 2009
By Miladys Le Blanc - Published on
Format: DVD
when i first saw this movie, i thought i was watching a documentary on the village life of india. as the minutes went by i had realized that it was a movie. the young actress who plays vanaja has command of every scene without having to do so. the director did a superb job of creating and leaving this movie in its natural state, not at all having all the embellishments of a bollywood movie. it was very easy on the eye. you felt that you could dive in at any moment and feel as daring, deceitful, curious, ambitious and as hopeless as vanaja did and snag a few mangoes too, scrub the floors, feed the dogs, hang the clothes, squeeze in some dance practice and be unjustifiably raped by the mistress's son. ouch! you really felt the pain for when the specially made ointment was inserted to ease the pain. you felt the burning, stinging aching throb. what is a girl to do for when her status won't allow her to ever progress having been "stained". it'll be much harder now to get married. the prospects are very low. dance was her salvation! her best friend was her unconditional backbone. her dad was hopeless, but he did try to do right by her. when he died, she asked, "did he leave me any words?", she was told, that he said that he was 'tired'. they have an elephant as their pet, and goddess. you want a trip into the reality of india, and feel the injustice that exist and have some good laughs too, believe it or not, then watch it on link tv or buy it on amzon!

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