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1981 196’ col/scope Kannada d/sc S.R. Puttanna Kanagal pc Ashok Arts st Ashwath dial Yoganna lyr Vijayanarasimha, Kanagal Prabhakar Sastry c Maruthi Rao m M. Ranga Rao lp Arathi, Ashok, Ambarish, Rajanand, Ramakrishna, Musari Krishnamurthy

Kanagal’s epic features Arathi’s most famous performance: she plays a stage actress in the folk theatre who marries a rich man (Ramakrishna) and ostensibly adapts to the required upper-class lifestyle. Her intense desire to perform on the stage is rekindled when her old theatre group arrives in her city. She agrees to replace one of the actresses in an emergency. The sexual release she experiences in acting emerges forcefully during a street procession when she appears to be ‘possessed’, to the intense embarrassment of her husband. Her obsession with acting leads to a divorce and her husband gets custody of their son. Having become a film star, she has an affair (coyly presented in the film) with a sexy young man (Ashok) who turns out to be her son. In a drawn out climax, the son tries to reconcile his parents but arrives too late to prevent his mother’s suicide. Kanagal extensively used hand-held camerawork and a distorting wide-angle lens which, in a CinemaScope frame, creates a disturbingly unsettling space, aggravated by the primary colour schemes. The film’s publicity claimed it showed the backstage world of the old Company Natak.