Vet helmer Girish Kasaravalli returns to pre-independence India with "In the Shadow of the Dog," a study of a woman caught between tradition and desire. Beautifully acted literary adaptation about a widow forced to accept the reincarnation of her late husband drags in the last third, but employs attractive lensing to address engrossing questions of hypocrisy and women's roles.

Vet helmer Girish Kasaravalli returns to pre-independence India with “In the Shadow of the Dog,” a study of a woman caught between tradition and desire. Beautifully acted literary adaptation about a widow forced to accept the reincarnation of her late husband drags in the last third, but employs attractive lensing to address engrossing questions of hypocrisy and women’s roles. Winner of the Karnataka State Film Award for best film, the pic could find a niche among smaller fests in search of regional subcontinental fare.

Village elder Achchannaiah (Sringeri Ramanna) hears that a young man claims to be the reincarnation of his son, who died 20 years earlier. Daughter-in-law Venkatalaxmi (the superb Pavitra Lokesh), accustomed to her widow’s status, wants nothing to do with the guy, but her ailing mother-in-law (Rameshwari Varma) urges a meeting. Vishwa (Ashwin Bolar) proves to be immature and irresponsible, but the community’s insistence on his authenticity reawakens Venkatalaxmi’s longing for full reintegration. Lovely images compensate for over-extended though thought-provoking meanderings.

In the Shadow of the Dog

India

Production

A Basant Pictures production. (International sales: Basant Productions, Bangalore.) Produced by Basant Kumar Patil, Abhishek Patil. Directed, written by Girish Kasaravalli, based on the book by S.L. Bhyarappa.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), S. Ramachandra; editor, Manohar; music, Issac Thomas Kottukapally; production designer, Ramesh Desai; costume designer, Ananya Kasaravalli. Reviewed at Rotterdam Film Festival (Maestros), Jan. 25, 2007. (Also in Palm Springs Film Festival.) Original title: Nayi neralu. Kannada dialogue. Running time: 135 MIN.

With

Pavitra Lokesh, Rameshwari Varma, Ananya Kasaravalli, Ashwin Bolar, Sringeri Ramanna, Raghunandan, Rohini, A.R. Chandra Shekara, Chandramathi, Ramesh, Aruna Balraj, Madhu, Sindhu Rao, Sadananda Bhatta.
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