‘Oorichivara Kalakarulu’, a short film depicting transcendent art wins accolades

The filmmaker from Vijayawada depicts the struggle a young lower caste girl has to go through in pursuit of her passion for Bharata Natyam, when art was considered an exclusive higher caste domain a few decades ago

Published - May 16, 2024 10:08 pm IST - VIJAYAWADA

A poster of “Oorichivara Kalakarulu’‘ and the filmmaker Maddula Vijay Raju.

A poster of “Oorichivara Kalakarulu’‘ and the filmmaker Maddula Vijay Raju. | Photo Credit: G.N. RAO

It was Mahasivaratri day when the Ramalingeswara Swamy temple at Yanamalakuduru village saw large throngs of devotees joining the high-octane celebrations that included special pujas and a cultural programme.

“Suddenly my attention was distracted by a young girl with a bunch of balloons trying to find buyers among the crowd. A Bharata Natyam dance being performed on the stage deflected the little one’s focus and she stood still, her head tilted to one side, watching with fascination the rhythmic movements of the performer,” recalls Maddula Vijay Raju.

“Art transcends all boundaries, it cannot be bound by caste, class, creed and social status,” mumbled the 27-year-old and thus was born his next shot film “Oorichivara Kalakarulu”. The 38-minute shot film depicts how resilience and determination of a father-daughter duo, who belong to a lower caste and live in the village periphery, help them overcome social barriers and follow their passion.

The film’s protagonists Shivudu, who plays ‘dappu’ at funerals, lives at the village periphery with his 10-year-old daughter Nandini, who has a burning desire to learn Bharata Natyam. Shivudu is wary of the possible repercussions from the upper castes in the village and tries to dissuade Nandini from following her passion. But Nandini is persistent. Shivudu is equipped with the nuances of the Bharata Natyam, which he learnt secretly in the past by intently watching the daily dance classes for girls belonging to the affluent families in the village courtyard, from a tree-top, but he has never allowed this art to surface in the public.

Nandini’s joy knows no bounds when Shivudu gives in to her pleas and teaches her the dance movements, secretly in the confines of the four walls of their thatched roof and warns her against public display of her talent.

But in the next few days, the secret is out at Nandini’s school where her teacher asks girls in the class to enrol their names for a Bharata Natyam dance performance in the Independence Day programme. When the teacher finds none of the girls impressive, Nandini blurts out in excitement that she can dance too. The teacher is impressed by her talent and allows her to sit inside the classroom from that day (hitherto she was made to sit outside for being a ‘social outcast’).

The incident comes to the notice of the sarpanch and the angry village head humiliates Nandini in front of the villagers. Shivudu is agonised and he dies of anguish. Nandini plays the dappu, drowning her sorrows in its rhythmic and resounding beats.

“The film is a fiction set in the 1970s-80s when art was always associated with higher class. The lower castes were either ignored or it was considered activism, instead of art,” says Vijay Raju.

Other films

The native of Yanamalakuduru, who has a diploma in animation, he quit his job in the corporate sector to learn the nuances of the craft of film-making. Starting with small ventures like “Stay home save life” during the pandemic-induced lockdown, he made seven-minute short film ‘Payanam’, followed by two more projects titled “Jai Hind” and an ad film on Disha Act introduced by the Andhra Pradesh government.


“Oorichivara Kalakarulu” won him widespread accolades. The shot film has won an award in the ‘Best Director-Jury” category at the Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival-2014, an independent film festival held in New Delhi on April 30, 2024. It has also won another award at the South India Film Festival in the “Long Format Film Under 60 minutes” category. Vijay Raju’s work has also been nominated in the ‘Kalakari’ segment of the South India Film Festival held in Hyderabad recently.

“Receiving the award from none other than mega star Chiranjeevi was a special moment for me,” he says.

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