Dammu (Boyapati Seenu)
by Srikanth Mantravadi
For all the good taste in cinema I profess to have, I am still a major fan of commercial cinema and by commercial cinema I mean epic mass movies like Indra, Aadi, Chatrapathi etc; not soft romances and quasi gangster movies . Dammu is a worthy addition to that list. It is essentially a retread of the faction movies of the past, especially Aadi and Indra, when it comes to the storyline. The major reason why movies like Dammu still get made is because a major bloodshed is always good. Revenge feels good. It is cleansing, cathartic and is the best payoff possible in movies.
Boyapati Seenu, like Rajamouli, chooses his payoffs wisely and milks them fantastically. He knows that the best form of catharsis comes when the hero has to go to war with family pride and honour at stake. It helps if there is a history of violence and the backs are to the wall. Makes it all the more stirring. It is the reason why Gladiator is epic. It is one man taking on an empire to avenge his personal loss. It is the reason why Eden Gardens 2001 was epic. It is two me defying odds and staging an incredible comeback. Fighting for an ideal or ideology can be rousing but a fight for personal reasons almost always surpasses that. Remember Chak De India? It is not so much about the underdogs winning but about Kabir Khan’s redemption; the evisceration of past injustices.
Coming back to Dammu, Boyapati is a canny director. He knows that the first half could be filled with establishing the feud and the characters. The second half is where the action usually is and it is here that all the setup could fizzle out if it is not handled well. So what does he do? He manufactures, what I call, epic mass moments. These are usually the payoff moments where uninhibited heroism crushes down with vengeance and inevitability upon villainy. And the success of the movie is directly proportional to how many genuine epic mass moments the director manages to pack in. All of us like fights but nobody likes a meaningless fight. The stronger the justification the better the fight looks. So, just when you are thinking that the movie is meandering to the obligatory final showdown, Seenu bumps off the hero’s baava (Venu) after spending some time establishing his good natured character.
The best faction movies always horrify through an unexpected tragedy and make the loss feel personal. And then the cathartic hack-a-thon begins.
Dammu has a lot of epic mass moments. Boyapati is the next Rajamouli what with the latter dabbling with offbeat subjects off late. He has the skill to gradually build scenes and deliver the payoffs well. NTR is perfect in the role. If you are a fan of the genre and get thrills like I do from watching solid bloodshed then Dammu is for you.