There was a time when a film set in a rural background meant feudal wars, a hero trying his best to drill sense into the rival camp and when pushed to the wall, taking up violence to teach his opponents a lesson or two. As an aside, you had more than one heroine to romance the hero. Dammu takes us back by a few decades and treats us to one such story. The film rides high on emotions and violence is thrown in for good measure.
The expectations were sky high since Dammu came from Boyapati Srinu, who has the mass hit Simha. The film opens as Srinu calls the shots with ‘start, camera, action'. Within seconds, we are transported into sepia-tinted frames of a village where a man's head is chopped off. In this area (shot in and around Pollachi), two warring families are headed by Nasser and Suman respectively. They follow a strange tradition of exchanging ‘thamboolam' and fighting for supremacy during Sankranti jatra. Bloodbath ensues for those two days without the interference of police.
Nasser and Co. overpower Suman and hoist their flag at his abode. Suman vows to avenge the insult stating that his new-born son will be groomed to be a fighter and will return in 25 years to settle scores. In the mean time, Nasser and sons have a field time hunting and killing newborn male children.
NTR is a happy-go-lucky guy who grows up in Hyderabad, displays his heroic skills and falls in love with Trisha. How he is transported to the land of the feudal families and salvages the situation forms the rest of the story.
Dammu is about star power and NTR does his job to the hilt. He delivers dialogues (sadly, quite a few bordering on double entendre) aplomb and draws whistles. He is totally in control in action sequences, which are the highlight of the film. But after a point, the bloodbath tests your patience. In the climax sequence, NTR delivers a monologue of how he wanted to shun violence but got sucked into it and vouches that violence and death are no means to settle scores. But by then, we have watched people being tied to vehicles/horses and being dragged on the roads, countless bodies floating in a muddy pool or hanging by tree branches that we are tired.
Nasser, Bhanupriya, Suman and Tanikella Bharani do justice to their roles. Venu and Abhinaya are refreshing in supporting roles. Trisha and Karthika (as the second girl pining for NTR) stay content with playing glam dolls. It's a pity, since we know both of them are capable of much more.
Watch Dammu if you are game for a typical ‘mass' entertainer where the hero does some thigh-slapping, sings and dances with two heroines, makes you laugh with his comic timing and looks at home in action sequences.
Cast: NTR, Trisha, Karthika Nair and Nasser
Direction: Boyapatti Srinu
Music: M.M. Keeravani
Plot: The hero tries to drive sense into warring feudal groups but discovers he has to take the violent path.
Bottomline: Rides on star power