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.