The six-part series, which also stars Diganth Divakar, among others, is currently streaming on Talkies App
Last Updated: 08.29 AM, May 04, 2022
Story: Vanaja (Bhoomi Shetty), runs a small hotel that serves non-vegetarian fare, the only one catering to 4-5 villages in the neighbourhood. The bane of Vanaja’s life is that her father was a sixty year old when he married her 20-year-old mother, with the latter running away in the middle of the night with another man, when Vanaja was a toddler. Growing up with an aged parent meant that Vanaja had to take responsibility of him and the household at a young age. She’s the breadwinner with her little run-down hotel that is also her home. She’s also quite the spitfire, who doesn’t mince her words and doesn’t hold back from striking anyone.
When her livelihood is then threatened by a visitor from the city, all hell breaks loose. Can Vanaja win this battle?
Review: At first, the story of Vanaja seems quite interesting. Growing up as the child of a man old enough to be her grandfather and dubbed the offspring of the woman who ran away, Vanaja’s had it tough, which toughened her up as a person. She’s not the most civilized person and is quite foul-mouthed too. But despite the fiery exterior, she’s got a caring heart, be it for her aged father, her very-pregnant employee who has a drunkard and abusive man as husband, as well for the only man in their neighbourhood, Veeru, who likes Vanaja just the way she is.
Director Aneesh Poojary Venur doesn’t take long to establish Vanaja’s character, problem is, it gets repetitive and tiresome after a point. Bhoomi Shetty’s Vanaja has the same expletive-laden lines, the threats to break bones and the actual physical violence in pretty much every episode. And yet, after establishing her as this spitfire woman, at the slightest hint of trouble, she is the typical damsel in distress with no fight left in her.
When the villain in Vanaja’s life, Robert (Diganth Divakar), enters, the writing, quite honestly, gets shoddy. Robert has driven all the way to this village, his girlfriend in tow, to take possession of Vanaja’s hotel and the land surrounding it. He has documents to prove that it all belongs to his mother, Mary, who has sent him to get the job done. But Vanaja too has papers showing that the land is in the name of her mother, Leela. Vanaja, of course, is her usual loud and abusive self, even smacking Robert around, so he goes to the local cop to help sort the matter.
If a villain has to be truly badass, he has to make a sexual overture towards the heroine, apparently. So, here too, Robert tells Vanaja that all her problems can be solved if she agrees to spend the night with him. If you are rolling your eyes at this, Vanaja agreeing to these terms and conditions and sitting all decked up like a bride with welcoming fruits and snacks by the bedside will have you want to gag. If the director thought that the twist in the tale that comes up just then saves the plot, well, he’s mistaken. It’s quite laughable.
Vanaja is the second original Kannada web series from Swayam Prabha Entertainment that I caught on Talkies App. While this one has problems with the writing, one cannot help but notice a lack of quality production values. The shows appear to have been made on shoe-string budgets and that’s quite a downer. The streamer has several other original productions currently available, which we shall get to soon enough.
Verdict: Bhoomi Shetty does her best to do justice to the role, but is let down by the writing. This one can be skipped.
PS: Most Kannada filmmakers also think it necessary to have a Christians character wear a very visible rosary or crucifix to establish their religion. Apparently, a very Christian sounding name is not enough.