One of the goals of Popcorn Reviewss when we started out was that we will not differentiate between languages. This basically means that we will not restrict ourselves by covering only content from a handful of languages. As a result, we have been looking at films just the way should and covering them irrespective of any language or country they would originate in. I feel it is the moral responsibility of every reviewer to keep pushing the horizon. With that we have a new first on our site. It is the Odia Film Industry that has debuted on our site as I did finish watching the new Odia film DAMaN yesterday. It was a film that I had heard many great things about, and while the mainstream media may not have covered it, fellow reviewers from the digital media(read : Youtube) had. So with much excitement and not knowing what to expect, I finished watching DAMaN that marks the first Odia film to be reviewed on our site Popcorn Reviewss. So then is it worth your time, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Set in 2015, DAMaN(intentionally kept a few letters in caps, you will know when you watch the film) follows the story of a young doctor who having being posted at a remote location in Odisha, takes it upon himself to improve health facilities in the area. The story is heartwarming and supremely uplifting in many ways. Although this is a true story, you can see shades of Panchayat and Swades, although the story has a very positive vibe to it amidst a different trajectory. The screenplay standing at about 2 hours does make for a pleasant and supreme watch that may force you to shed a quiet little tear.
The drama does begin by giving you a reference of the land which was cut-off from the mainland. This was important to understand the topography of the area and how difficult it was in terms of the accessibility related to that area. Soon, you are introduced to the protagonist who we get to know is a freshly passed out MBBS graduate. As luck would have it, he is posted to this very remote location, a la Jeetu in Panchayat. The difficulties that the protagonist faces simply to reach his destination is nicely showcased here. The proceedings are simplistic but with a tinge of humour to begin with.
I did like how there was a good amount of effort in the world building here wherein the principle characters were well etched. The writing was all about exploring and growing in that environment. So one obstacle leads to another that causes a change of heart for the protagonist. As they say, God can’t come to save everyone, so he has made Doctors. Staying true to this line, the drama does explore on the good deeds of the protagonist as he continues his journey amidst multiple challenges. I did like how some of the myths were integrated in the story(like the villagers saying that a person was possessed by a spirit when in reality it was a case of Malaria). I would have also liked if the writing had explored a little on the Naxalite angle that always threatens to explode but it doesn’t eventually.
The drama at times does get borderline preachy but it does have its heart in the right place. There are several heartwarming moments packaged as a social commentary that is uplifting in many ways. Although the stakes are not quite raised neither is the writing very layered, the drama does feel like a warm embrace primarily due to its proceedings. The ending shall leave you with a lot of emotions as it will coax you to shed a tear or two. Overall, this may not be a perfect screenplay(as touted by a few) but it is a step in the right direction and a drama that may open multiple doors for the Odia film Industry.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are simplistic but definitely have a profound impact on the drama. The music and BGM are excellent and they add a layer of freshness to the proceedings. You can make out that the film had a low budget especially from the lighting perspective. The lighting is at times really dim but credit to the makers for still shooting through the shoe-string budget. The director’s chair is shared by two individuals – Vishal Mourya and Debiprasad Lenka and the direction is superb here. The drama is consistently engaging and engrossing and for that reason the direction should be applauded.
The performances are splendid here. Dipanwit Dashmohapatra as Rabi is earnest and sincere, a virtue that makes his character quite affable. Babushaan Mohanty as Dr. Siddharth is outstanding and hits all the right chords for a noteworthy performance. And his screen presence is quite good as well. All other actors are excellent as well.
DAMaN is a heartwarming and uplifting drama which is a step in the right direction for the Odia Film Industry. Available in a theatre near you.