Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Vamp or Not? Once Upon a Warrior

Directed by Prakash Rao, Once Upon a Warrior or Anaganaga O Dheerudu (to give it its original title) was a Bollywood production, in Telugu, that was unique given its Disney backing. One supposes that Disney saw this as a doorway into a large new market.

The film itself is a fantasy epic set in the mythical tear shaped land of Angarajyam, where the populace are terrorised by an evil sorceress called Irendri (Lakshmi Manchu). It is Irendri who is the focus of our ‘Vamp or Not?’

In many respects she is like any witch type character from many a western film (though somewhat more colourful in costume). Late in the film we discover that she was stopped previously by a swami but she managed to put her essence or soul into an amulet, which passed down to her descendant, the good gypsy Priya (Shruti Haasan) and (when the pendant is touched by fire) she was able to reform and begin her evil ways again.

Siddharth as Yodha
The core story concerns the children of a village all falling into a sleeping sickness due to the evil taint Irendri had left behind – in the form of skeletal serpent servants. One man, Druki (Vallabhaneni Ramji), is sent to fetch a miracle child called Moksha (Harshitha) back to the village in order that she might save the children. Her protector is the blind warrior Yodha (Siddharth). He happened to be in love with Priya and believes her to be dead.

drop of blood
As it happens she is held captive by Irendri who maintains her youth and power by periodically taking a drop of her blood. This is placed within the magical pendant and she needs Priya as it must be the blood of a relative, Priya being the last of her line. When blood is placed in the pendant (which is captured by a serpent) she replaces the stone and she is infused with energy. At one point – when she goes to harvest the blood – she states that she needs blood and becomes physically weak. She questions how long she has to thirst for blood.

a bath of blood?
She also seems to bathe in blood – or at least a bath that has red liquid – but this was not definitive. She worships a serpent demon called sarpa sakthi – this actually takes form through her hair – and this being informs her that the blood of Moksha – if taken during a lunar eclipse – will grant her immortality. This, of course, is a further example of gaining power through blood.

revitalised through blood
I think this is enough to class her as a vampiric witch and thus I have gone Vamp. The film itself isn’t too demanding and seems aimed generally at a younger audience. It then veers off into less trodden pathways, such as making Yodha a drunk and watching him go off to con drinks out of travellers. Of course good has to triumph over evil and true love has to find its course and singing and dancing have to happen. The imdb page is here.

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