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Dvija

CULTSCORE OVERVIEW

SCREENPLAY
7
ACTING
6
MAKING
7

 

Directed by AK Srikanth | Reviewed by Rich Monetti

Religion by nature makes doubt the primary characteristic of believers and the doctrine they embrace. Who is God, what happens after we die and will I see grandpa when I get there? We all live in hopes of unravelling the mystery. But the actual danger lies in certainty. So when followers believe they actually have the answers, religion can go off the rails, and in DVIJA : The Tale of the Twice Born, AK Srikanth reveals the locomotive disarray in full force.

The film inspired by Harusame Monogatari’s 1809 novel, DVIJA means twice born the. The first is a physical birth and the second is spiritual. So for our purposes, the film foretells with titling that reads “A Voice in the Wilderness.” Thus, a remote village in India hears the call.  “Are you sure you heard chanting,” the village elder doubts the account of his younger.

Not enough to simply let the supposed sighting go, the possibility of flushing out a nearby deity is too strong. Night falls, the men descend and they get their God

A full moon obscured by a rolling fog reinforces the mystery, and the resulting Deepak cinematography allows DVIJA (Savitha Sastry) to give life to the darkness. She’s clad in deep blue frock with a bright red twist above, and against a melody of the ancients, her rebirth does the dance called the Bharatanatyam.

Dating back more than 2000 years, the classical dance form hails from the South of India and has its origins in the religious themes of Hinduism. With only two arms and legs, Sastry’s precise execution of the art form conjures the multi limbs of the ancient stone statues we’ve all seen and brings actual movement to our mind’s image.

There’s also an innocent joy in her movement and eyes that reveals a being unburdened by the physical world. So the background moonlight seemingly emanating from DVIJA’s soul, the spiritually ensnared males are sure they’ve seen the light, and  proceed to bring home their prize.

She emerges on the village with the men reverently following, and the viewer reacts in kind as the surrounding nature takes a back seat to her bursting colors and sheer life force. At the same time, the elevating melody overcomes us with a serenity that is outer worldly, and the nearly slow-motion traverse has her almost floating like the God she is.

In other words, AK Srikanth has expertly set the stage, and all cued up, the villagers are more than ready to receive the enlightenment that their religion promises.  At least, that’s what these villagers and all the God fearing among would claim.

In truth, what human beings really want is answers, and after a year of leaving them in the dark, an elder lays it on the table like she’s speaking for the whole world. Pressing DVIJA on salvation, the old woman pleads, “We have not the patience of the Gods.”

The insistence thus highlights the divergence between the people and their supposed deliverer. Sastry emotes a calm that screams she is present and her followers in their anticipatory movement, facial expression and discourse are everywhere else.

Not what the village was expecting from a God who can be anywhere, DVIJA continues to elevate their ire and the overall unsettling casts doubt on the long held certainties of these believers.

Uh-oh.

Yes, we’ve seen this movie many times before in history and real life. As a result, The villagers mistake their flawed human certainties for the omnipotence they are supposed to assign to their gods.  

Power corrupting absolutely, they then act accordingly. Violence, hate and arrogance reveal as the true colors of the devout in doubt, and instead of receiving the salvation, they are left to wallow in their own failings. Too bad that DVIJA was only a God because Srikanth expertly shows us that no one stands a chance when humanity rolls in with the worst it has to offer.


Rich Monetti was born in the Bronx and grew up in Somers, New York. He went onto study Computer Science and Math at Plattsburgh State. But after about a decade in the field, he discovered that writing was his real passion. He’s been a freelancer since 2003 and is always looking for the next story. Rich also dabbles with screenwriting and stays active by playing softball and volleyball.

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