Movie: Palasa 1978
Banner: Sudhas Media
Cast: Rakshit, Nakshatra, Raghu Kunche, Thiru Veer and others
Music: Raghu Kunche
Cinematography: Arul Vincent
Editor: Kotagiri Venkateswara Rao
Producer: Dhayan Atluri
Written and Directed by Karuna Kumar
Release date: March 6, 2020
From the last few months, ‘Palasa 1978’ has successfully generated buzz with several celebrities heaping the praise and Allu Aravind handing over an advance to the movie’s director for his second film. The film’s trailer has also looked quite promising.
Let’s find out whether the film has lived up to all the buzz.
1978. Mohan Rao (Rakshit) and Ranga Rao (Thiruveer), two brothers from a Dalit family in Palasa, working as workers in a local cashew nuts factory, are known for their artistic talent – folk singing.
When they face caste discrimination, they take up the sword to revolt against the owners. But they cunningly make a peace with the brothers and wait for the right time to strike back.
How Mohan Rao’s life turns volatile with the path he has chosen is all about the movie.
The film has mostly newcomers playing the lead roles. Rakshit as the main hero is just okay. Tiru Veer as Ranga Rao shines in his role. Raghu Kunche as the villain is impressive.
The cinematographer and art director have succeeded in recreating the 80’s of the Srikakulam region. The background score has worked well. But songs don’t ring much. Editing should have been sharper.
Engaging first half
Perhaps taking inspiration from Tamil directors like Pa Ranjith (‘Kabali’ and ‘Kaala’), debutant Telugu director Karuna Kumar presents the theme of caste oppression and Dalit revolt in ‘Palasa 1978’. The first thing that we notice in ‘Palasa 1978’ is its raw narration that we generally see in Tamil movies.
The poor rustic conditions, the dialogues filled with uncensored words, the caste politics, the actors who look like the villagers of the bygone era… such an environment we see in realistic movies of Tamil cinema, where glamourous strappings have no room.
“Palasa 1978” has also similarities with “Rangasthalam” but this one wears a Dalit theme on its sleeve from the beginning of the movie.
Like “Rangasthalam”, it also has brother-sentiment and revenge element. But this is more about caste discrimination and urges all Dalits to take up studies seriously.
The director has also established the fact that the politicians use Dalits as pawns in the games of power. And the rich and powerful cannot be defeated easily thought the means of the judiciary in our present system is subtly told.
However, the film also has drawbacks. It turns monotonous after a while. The second half loses the grip. Plus, the romantic track between hero and heroine is quite bland and artificial.
The overt stress on the aspect of women going into the fields with ‘lotas’ is off-putting. Also, it has more of a documentary approach.
But this is not a regular commercial film. ‘Palasa 1978’ is a film with a limited appeal, and it is for the discerning audiences who like realistic approach.
Bottom-line: Voice Against Discrimination