What is this strange journey of life that brings people together in mysterious ways, is a question that Dayavittu Gamanisi asks at a certain point. Watching its four short stories unfold, one gets the feeling that it isn’t that life is mysterious; but the men who fumble their way through it, failing to understand the emotional lives of women, are always missing the point.
Dayavittu Gamanisi is an ensemble film following the lives of four men who are struggling with relationships in their own way.
There’s Sathyanarayana (Rajesh Nataranga), a bachelor who’s unready for marriage, who’s pursued by a father (Prakash Belawadi) desperately seeking to marry off his daughter.
There’s Proxy (Vasishta N Simha), a small-time crook who falls in love with a musician and school teacher (Sangeetha Bhat) but is unable to tell her how he feels.
A swamiji (Avinash Shatamarshan) who thinks he stumbled onto the answers of life in renunciation, but is unable to come to terms with his strong feelings against a sex worker, occupies the third tale.
And finally, there’s Raghu (Raghu Mukherjee), a white collar worker caught between the demands of his job and his neglected wife (Bhavana), as well as a woman colleague (Samyukta Hornad) who seems too eagerly interested in him.
The four tales wind their way through very different paths, changing rhythms and emotional registers enough for the two-hour film to hold the viewer throughout. Director Rohit Padaki, together with cinematographer Aravind Kashyap, paints a rich canvas that grasps the nuances of life in the big city. The soundtrack by Anoop Seelin gives the film a rich, warm tone.
Not all of the four episodes work as well, with the first tale forming the high point of the film, thanks in large part to the amazing chemistry between Rajesh Nataranga and Prakash Belawadi. The sheer surreality of the way in which the market transaction of an arranged marriage progresses between the two men, with the woman entirely absent is also a treat to watch.
Vasishta N Simha’s character also shows off some interesting depth, though one feels that the second tale proceeds a bit too abruptly, not giving him enough time to fully explore his role.
The third and fourth parts of the tale are the weakest, one taking a fairly predictable route towards the exotic, and the other staying too much on the surface of modern middle class life.
Perhaps the biggest problem in the film is the fairly self-absorbed nature of its protagonists. While these men are miles ahead of the entitled heroes we are used to seeing in mainstream Kannada cinema, they still don’t really seem to connect with the fact that women have emotional lives of their own.
It’s really surprising how little time is given in the film to the women characters and their thoughts. When they do speak, it seems like they’ve only been given enough lines to move the plot along, and the men hear only what they need to.
This is a real pity, because the film writes its male characters sensitively enough to make us like them with all their flaws. But, unfortunately, they don’t move very far from their very interesting starting points, and their emotional journeys feel stunted in the end. It is telling that the film relies on a very contrived and non-committal ending to not quite resolve the four tales.
Still, Dayavittu Gamanisi shows a lot of potential from its director, and is engaging enough if you’re tired of the done-to-death masala films.