Dhanam is the story of a girl trapped in the oldest profession and the director weaves an erratic line of contrived episodes trying to give what he assumed to be a social message against superstitions. It is a mediocre film made with gaudy incidents, gawky treatment and garish visuals.
In Hyderabad, at a nameless slum lives Dhanam (Sangeetha), a street walker. But, she is a flesh trader with a difference. With the money earned, she indulges in social welfare activities like helping the needy and is treated as a devatha by the slum residents. A police officer Rama Rao (Ashish Vidhyarthi) is seen making an inquiry about Dhanam.
In Rajahmundry lives the family of Acharya (Girish Karnard), who is in the timber business dealing with teak wood logs. He has three sons and a daughter. His family strictly follows the traditional Brahmin customs. The eldest son Ananth Sastry (Prem) is sent to Hyderabad for higher studies. He promptly falls in love with Dhanam who tries to discourage him. He however wants to marry her. She says she will agree if his entire family agrees to his marriage after knowing that she is a prostitute.
Ananth and Dhanam arrive in Rajahmundry. His family is aghast at the proposal. Vedagiri (Kota Srinivasa Rao), the family astrologer convinces them that Dhanam’s arrival as daughter-in-law brings good luck. The marriage of Ananth and Dhanam is performed. But Vedagiri the astrologer knows about the past of Dhanam and casts an evil eye on Dhanam who rejects his indecent proposals.
Dhanam gives birth to a girl child. A vengeful Vedagiri says that the child should be killed to save the family from disaster and death. Will the child be killed? The rest of the story leads to a poisonous climax with Dhanam back to square one.
Sangeetha has plenty of scope to emote and she tries to make the best of a badly penned character. Girish Karnard and Kota Srinivasa Rao are their usual selves. Prem is all at sea. All others go through their motions.
It is very difficult to handle the theme of a prostitute in a feature film. Bollywood film Guru Dutt’s Pyasa was entirely in a different league. Hollywood films Woody Allen’s Mighty Aphrodite, Jennifer Connelly’s Requiem for a Dream, Patricia Arquette’s True Romance and Julia Roberts’s Pretty Woman have been dealt with in different dimensions but with insight and sensitivity.
Director G Siva had a concept of making a prostitute as a married house wife but he executed it with gaudy incidents, gawky treatment and garish visuals. The screenplay is littered with episodes which are in poor taste. The treatment is voyeuristic and at times vulgar. The dialogues are badly written. The music by Ilayaraja is sadly not up to the mark except the kanhaiah song. Technically the film is average.
Director G Siva appears to be a firm believer in cinema being a powerful medium and it should give a social message. The message seems to be that there is nothing wrong for a girl to be a prostitute as long as she helps the neighbours in times of their monetary need. The second message seems to be that a woman wronged can get away with mass murder and even the police connive at the crime.
Dhanam horrifies you with its concept, content and characterization. Forget about that this film was ever made.
The Cast and crew
Sangeetha, Prem, Girish Karnard, Kota Srinivasa Rao, Ashish Vidhyarthi and others
Producer: Addala Venkatrao
Music Director: Ilayaraja
1 out of 5
Review by Deen Kumar