It was over 35 minutes into episode one and the lead protagonist had not uttered a single word. Finally, when he speaks he tells his son on a Ferris wheel…
“if you close your eyes and look below, you’ll be scared. Open your eyes and look out, the town will be under you.”
The latest Telugu original series on ZEE5, Gods Of Dharmapuri has been reeling in the rave reviews from the viewers. The biggest win for this 10-episode spectacle is its honesty and simplicity to story-telling. There’s politics, crime, greed, lust, family, love and whole lot of drama. Yet nothing seems too much or too heavy. On the contrary, it’s totally binge-watch worthy. Directed by Anish Yohan Kuruvilla, the series takes place in the fictional town of Dharmapuri during the 1960s and ’70s.
A young couple cross mountains, bare feet, with their two sons in hopes to start a new and fruitful life, where no one knows them. Pratap Reddy and his wife Saroja, clearly have an unpleasant history which is why she is desperate for her kids to have a normal future. They don’t have to spell out this fact, the actors, Raj Deepak Shetty and Sruthi Jayan, convey in it a subtle way – but you might miss out in it if you blinked your eye. Pratap, with his wide and muscular frame, is not a man to sit quietly and take orders. And that is why the story begins.
Dharmapuri is already tangled in too many conflicts. The educated liberals want to establish peace and equality but the old and powerful know to how to win their people. And this conflicted ground becomes the land of the uprising for an entirely new and unexpected entity of power. Pratap Reddy, rarely speaks, even as he rallies in the streets for people to vote him. That’s his power. The promises he makes, of bettering the lives of labours, are quickly forgotten by the character and by the storyteller.
However, it isn’t about the forgotten promises (by the storyteller) yet it is about the forgotten promises (by the character). Power is a gamble. And once you get hold of it, you cannot resist letting it go. That’s the kind of a house in which Venu and Ravi Reddy are raised in. Their mother is the one to hold their hands and guide them straight. While Venu is hell-bent on driving his mother out of the dirty waters, Ravi is too busy being proud of his father – with whatever little he could understand.
Obviously, the kids grow up to be what we thought of them to be. The elder one, played by Satyadev, is the hero of the show in more ways than one. He is smart, educated, thoughtful and still cunning. The younger one, portrayed by Karthik Rathnam, is a character who is as messed up on the screen as in his head. He is young, wild, hedonistic and delusional by the world of Bruce Lee films. For him, falling in love with a girl is as easy as it is to stab his enemy. He does wicked things and speaks foul language, but there’s good in him too.
While Saroja indulges in poojas and prayers for the gods to show some mercy upon them, her son Venu tries to do good whenever and wherever he can. But fate has different plans for them all! Three men of the Reddy family decide to step out and take reigns of the game – for once and for all. They get to the enemy, D.N. Reddy, played by veteran actor LB Sriram, after many disguises and attempts to get it right. But power doesn’t really reside where men believe it does. Killing the enemy was not the solution at all.
Who is more powerful? The axe that broke the rock or the hand that lifted the axe?
The razor-sharp editing skills of Abhinav Reddy make the plot intense and interesting at this point. Because the real enemy is still out there. As we inch closer to the climax, the drama builds up, thanks to its incredible background score, which is never too powerful on the ears but lifts the story several notches higher. Director Anish plays a supporting role in the show and once you watch it, you will understand why we say that he is the real god behind G.O.D.
When you have such a stellar cast, talking about their brilliant performances isn’t needed. Yet special mention to Jagadesh Prathap Bhandari who plays Chalapathi – he is the one to make you root for the protagonist with his sheer and unhindered belief. He also makes you weep as he weeps, banging his head with hands. The cinematography pulls you inside the world of Dharmapuri with its spectacular beauty that is yet simplistic.
The show doesn’t go too far with what can be done. But allows enough space for the viewer, the characters and the story to breathe, instead of shoving with layers and layers of material. If you’re waiting for a story from your home ground that makes you proud, Gods Of Dharmapuri is your best bet right now. If you’re looking for another compelling story, check out Kailasapuram on ZEE5.