Cast: Pooja Gandhi, Ravishankar, Makarand Deshpande, Raghu Mukherjee, Nisha Kothari, Bhavya, Sudharani
Director: Srinivasa Raju
When Veerappan, starring Devaraj and directed by Raveendranath, bagged three State awards, the jury’s wisdom was questioned on the ground that it amounted to glorifying crime. Dandupalya begs similar questions on how and to what extent crime is to be presented onscreen. The film centres around the infamous criminal gang that spread terror in and around Bangalore through their horrific acts. It presents these “real life” stories with all their crudity and horror intact.
The tone is set in the very first scene where gang leader Krishna confesses to cop Chalapathi he liked to slit his victims’ throats for the “pleasure” of listening to the sound of blood gushing out. As the story moves on, the director presents a series of cases in all their gory detail. After showing the gang eliminating a cop in its characteristic style, he moves on to narrate a few cases where it brutally rapes, murders and robs women and the elderly for a pittance without leaving any cues. The dutiful Chalapathi takes this up as a challenge and succeeds in tracing them all to the notorious Dandupalya gang.
Srinivasa Raju, the consummate director that he is, stumbles in narration. Had he focused on how Chalapathi follows up on the clues leading to the gang and proves their crime in a court of law — rather than focus on the splatterfest — the film would have gone up by many notches.
Precious time is wasted on glorifying criminal acts. The love story of Raghu Mukherjee and Nisha Kothari and their song sequence looks like a forced insertion to provide some relief from the incessant gore.
It is Pooja Gandhi in the role of Lakshmi who steals the show throughout. Breaking away from her usual romantic roles, she has proved her mettle as an actor. The scenes where she smokes a beedi, catches a pig, attempts to corrupt Chalapathi and undergoes interrogation are brilliant.
Makarand Deshpande and Ravi Kale live up to expectations. Jayadev as gang member Kothirama pulls off a coup with his appearance and behaviour. Ravi Shankar as Chalapathi is effective. Venkat Prasad’s camera excels in capturing the seedy and the sordid.
The audience can gear up for another gorefest: the director has already announced the sequel.