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Opinion | Dasara, Pushpa and Rangasthalam: The shared DNA of downtrodden heroes and Sukumar's influences

Nani's Dharani in Dasara, Allu Arjun's Pushpa in Pushpa: The Rise and Ram Charan's Chitti Babu in Rangasthalam all hail from the lowest stratum of society.

Opinion | Dasara, Pushpa and Rangasthalam: The shared DNA of downtrodden heroes and Sukumar's influences
Srikanth Odela's Dasara has many influences from director Sukumar.

Last Updated: 08.05 AM, Mar 31, 2023


Dasara is directed by debutant Srikanth Odela. Before making this movie, Srikanth assisted director Sukumar with movies like Nannaku Prematho and Rangasthalam. And we can see many of Sukumar's influences in Dasara, especially how it traces the evolution of its downtrodden hero. 

The one question that followed Nani everywhere he went while he was promoting Dasara across the country was: how Dasara looks a lot like Sukumar's smash hit Pushpa: The Rise? During one of his "Ask Me Anything" sessions on Twitter, Nani gave a witty response to this comparison. He tweeted, "Terminator and ddlj are not same coz both srk and Arnold wear a leather jacket ;) #AskNani.” He was right just because Nani's Dharani and Allu Arjun's Pushpa share almost similar fashion sense — unkept hair, thick beard, soiled shirt and lungi, and a large appetite for alcohol— doesn't necessarily make them the same. But, the similarities between Dharani and Pushpa go beyond their dirty and scruffy appearances. 

The character DNA of Dharani and Pushpa is the same. In fact, the highly-sentimental personality of Dharani is a lot like Ram Charan's Chitti Babu in Rangasthalam. Dharani, Pushpa and Chitti Babu all hail from the lowest stratum of society. Pushpa is a hard-boiled businessman with a singular vision of becoming rich and amassing all the power he can, so he doesn't get pushed around by people of privilege, Dharani and Chitti Babu are different. They are not ambitious as Pushpa. And Dharani and Chitti Babu have an innate drawback they struggle to overcome. Pushpa has no weakness of his own, except the one imposed on him by the society based on his caste identity. 

Dharani is a coward and he can't do anything daring and challenging unless he's as drunk as a skunk . Chitti Babu is hard of hearing and he refuses to use a hearing aid to protect his pride. Both these characters initially refuse to accept their shortcomings and do everything to ignore that. And their denialism costs them dearly, setting them on a path of self-discovery, which forces them to confront their inner demons and overcome them. 

Unlike Pushpa, Dharani and Chitti Babu don't readily revolt against oppression. They are happy and content in the stations that have been allotted to them by society's caste hierarchy. However, they only rise in revolt when their obedience fails to protect their loved ones. 

Dheekshith Shetty and Nani in a still from Dasara
Dheekshith Shetty and Nani in a still from Dasara

The three movies share similarities in terms of their rustic visual style, strong social commentary, and powerful performances. However, there are also some key differences between them. For example, Rangasthalam has a more complex and multi-layered storyline, while Dasara has a more straightforward and predictable plot. Rangasthalam explores the theme of political corruption and the exploitation of farmers by powerful landlords, whereas Dasara focuses on caste discrimination and the struggles of the downtrodden. 

Pushpa has a wider scope, as it deals with the red sandalwood smuggling trade and its impact on the lives of the people in the region, while Dasara has a more singular focus on its protagonist and his journey.

That said, all three stars, Nani, Ram Charan and Allu Arjun, who are known for their charming looks, in Dasara, Rangasthalam and Pushpa respectively, ditch their glamour and strip down to their undies as they take on powerful men who are products of a highly prejudiced society. 

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