In Boyapati Seenu's films, it's always raining men - an art form that Dammu takes to a whole new level.
We aren't only referring to the moaning, bloodied, wounded, half-dead men who fall from the skies after the hero has kicked them. In Dammu, male aggression is mainly displayed in its central premise, one that extols the role of men in "protecting" society, and how this particular royal family is incapable of dignity merely because it doesn't have a male child. The film doesn't say this explicitly, but it implies that women basically don't count. Except to sleep with the men and make babies.
But enough of the snobbish feminism already. Let's, for a moment, ignore what Dammu doesn't stand for, and instead, talk about what it is
. The movie is primarily aimed at male audiences that like their violence physical and gruesome, and that enjoy their self-exploding jeeps and Tata Sumos. Sometimes, it is fascinating to see Boyapati contradict himself and this pitch of macho belligerence. For example, his villain is more bad-ass than some recent villains, but has a convenient change of heart in the climax.
It's not all bad, though. Dammu is also one of the very few Telugu movies, in recent times, that actually has the hero cry. The sensitive side of a rough-and-tough hero is a nuance that is never explored in our films, and so, NTR Jr. shedding tears in the midst of this blood bltizkreig is a bit of a surprise.
Dammu is seemingly a simple drama detailing the rivalry between two warring feuds, but depends heavily on the characterization of the people in the story. Jr. NTR plays a 25-year-old who chances upon a dangerous, simmering family feud that threatens the lives of several villages. Post-interval, after the characters have been established, the killing begins.
Dammu seems to have been made with the wrong lessons from Simha
, which was a package that worked for a bunch of reasons. Even though Dammu is well-presented, and several dialogues shine, one problem with it is that its plot is very medieval. It portrays a kind of factionism that is getting old, and doesn't look at things like contemporary movies do. For all its preaching about how killing is not good, there's never any smart way around the problems in the movie - the story is only about finishing off your enemies.
When the plot does twist and turn, it does so merely to expose yet a cliche or something illogical. The scene where several revelations are made about Vijay's (the lead) origins, is bound to elicit groans from the audiences.
Also, there's too much melodrama. True, Boyapati is great with emotion and drama, and knows how to create grand auras around his important characters - as is evident in Dammu's family scenes. But what he does here is drag the theatrics out till you no longer care for the people on screen, and drag the fights out till you've lost count of who's getting whipped. In addition, even though the comedy had great potential, with NTR leading all acts, but both Brahmanandam and Ali are wasted.
The actors, in general are not a problem here, unless you're counting Karthika. NTR displays zeal, and is good with the dialogues and the heroics. But he noticeably does not have the star stature to pull off the innumerable political speeches that are getting extremely blatant now (ever consider becoming the official Telugu Desam brand-manager, by the way, director?).
Most other actors have well-written roles - including Suman, Venu and Kota Srinivasa Rao - and are delightful to watch, but the second half has very little of them. Although Bhanupriya is left silently weeping all through, without make-up, her Gandhari-esque screen presence packs a punch. The heroines are in this only for the songs, and there is absolutely no romance. Trisha, thus, has been grossly wasted.
Dammu comes loaded with a grandiose background score - the loud chants and trumpets do get tiresome in the second half - that is in keeping with the tone of the film. Also, the cinematography is quite striking. But Keeravani's music for the mass numbers only serves to accentuate the offensiveness of the lyrics.
To be fair, Dammu did entertain us, but the interval changed things. Watch it if you're game, or a fan.