Top 5 Foreign Films of 2007
"Beatuful and heart-touching film from India, represents a miracle of casting... Domalpalli tells his story with tender precision, and never an awkward moment" --Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times, 20th Dec 2007."Absolutely Timeless"
- New York Times"Auspicous Debut.. makes you eager for Domalpalli's next work"
- Newsweek"A film that touches the heartstrings"
- Variety"This is a movie exotic in look but recognizable in truth, the venture of a novice filmmaker very much ready for prime time"
- LA Times"If Domalpalli keeps this up, he might become something new for movies - a discreet combination of Satyajit Ray and Douglas Sirk"
- Boston Globe"Meet bright-eyed Vanaja.. possessed of a spirit as large and a smile as wide as the Indian Ocean"
- --Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer"Sublime Direction... Wonder Filled Film"
--San Francisco Chronicle, 5th October, 2007
Set in rural South India, a place where social barriers are built stronger than fort walls, Vanaja
explores the chasm that divides classes as a young girl struggles to come of age.
Vanaja (Mamatha Bhukya) is the 14 year-old daughter of a poor, low caste fisherman, struggling with dwindling catches and mounting debt. When a sooth-sayer predicts that she will be a great dancer one day, she goes to work in the house of the local landlady, Rama Devi (Urmila Dammannagari), in hopes of learning Kuchipudi dance while earning a keep.
Sexual chemistry is ignited between her and the landlady's son, but the situation suddenly turns ugly when Vanaja s superior intellect pits her against him in a public incident which ultimately humiliates him in front of his mother. Matters escalate, spiraling downwards and she is pitched into a tale of class, family and animus from which there is only one escape.