Dayavittu Gamanisi movie review: In this Kannada film, four disillusioned men find happiness only in dreams
Director: Rohit Padaki
Rohit Padaki’s Dayavittu Gamanisi tries to put its hands in its pockets and walk into the club of new-wave of Kannada cinema. The guards at the entrance take a look at the film and allow it without frisking it much.
The movie works on two levels – anthology and hyperlink. There isn’t any ticking clock reminding us that the characters are going to meet somehow, somewhere. That suspense was evident in last year’s Kahi. Also, Kahi was structured in a way that permitted all the main characters to explode on the screen simultaneously, whereas Dayavittu Gaminisi opens slowly, chapter-wise.
Four clear stories are present in Rohit’s directorial debut. They are titled 'Whirlpool', 'Existence', 'Illusion', and 'Decision'. If the titles are interchanged, it’d still behave in the same manner. The order doesn’t really matter here. Maybe, it would for 'Decision', since it is in this part of the film that all the characters decide to move, both literally and metaphorically.
Each of the chapters is filled with male actors who know how to put their heads down in order to pull off a sorry face. Comedy dramas are increasingly turning into black comedies now. The movement is strong in the US, with many television shows and mainstream films picking up the pieces of the genre to paint a happy picture with a broken brush. The Netflix show BoJack Horseman comes to mind when I spot such things in fiction.
The central theme of Dayavittu Gamanisi screams disappointment. Rajesh Nataranga (Chapter 1) is at that age where everyone asks him why he hasn’t gotten married yet. He says he doesn’t feel like it, but, when an opportunity comes his way and dies down, he’s dejected.
The second chapter, featuring Vasishta N Simha and Sangeetha Bhat, is probably the only short that starts off cheerfully. Is Vasishta’s star power the reason for this kind of packaging? While all the other chapters creep up with a light sense of foreboding, Vasishta’s chapter begins with the usual elements of a star movie. It wouldn’t be impractical to say that he’s the face of the movie. He has climbed the ranks of stardom in a short period of time. The belief in his status gets proved in the number of whistles he gets when he makes his stylish entry as a pickpocket.
I couldn’t help but wonder that these men (including Shatamarshan Avinash from Chapter 3 and Raghu Mukherjee from Chapter 4) are happy only in their dreams. Rajesh dreams of a woman waking him up and pushing him to the bathroom with a bath towel. Vasishta follows Sangeetha Bhat in the song, 'Marete Hodenu'.
The visuals of 'Marete Hodenu' pop up from his eyes; Sangeetha’s just a part of his fantasy. Shatamarshan Avinash, the swami who says that there’s more to life than making kids to his followers, dreams of the woman he detests. He acts like he hates her, yet what does he see when he closes his eyes? The beach, the woman, and himself!
Then there’s Raghu Mukherjee who spends his nights on the bench outside his house because his wife, played by Bhavana Rao, won’t let him in. She’s mad at him for prioritising work over family bonding. Even while struggling on the tiny bench, in his dream, he’s flirting with her.
These dreams perish the minute reality hits them. Their lives go back to square one – Avinash packs his bags and goes on another journey, Rajesh goes back to being the eligible bachelor, Vasishta goes back to jail (as a proxy), and Raghu goes back to his distressed wife.
The theme of disillusionment affects the women of Dayavittu Gamanisi, too. They are equally cut up by the hardships they go through every day.
The one strong element I liked about the movie was how Rohit used the Kannada language. It stays true to the characters’ backgrounds, whether it’s Raghu Mukherjee picking up his phone and using a cuss word for his boss, or Jayanth Kaikini putting his poetical skills to perfection in 'Marete Hodenu'.
In this journey called life, is companionship a necessary evil as in the case of Raghu’s story, is it a distant cloud that tantalises and doesn’t get any closer, as portrayed in Rajesh Nataranga’s chapter, or is it a luxury, like it is shown in Vasishta’s episode? I know the person who has the answer for this: the Swami!