Rated 3.0

Writer-director Rajnesh Domalpalli’s feature debut begins as a sort of offhandedly feminist, multi-culti Karate Kid of South Indian dance, and winds up an interrogation of caste and other cultural barriers to women’s rights. The eponymous, dance-happy teenaged heroine (Mamatha Bhukya) mischievously makes an apprentice of herself to a matronly village elder (Urmila Dammannagari), only to run tragically afoul of the mistress’ strapping, predatory, twenty-something son (Karan Singh). It feels like the MFA thesis project it is—the non-professional cast flounders occasionally and the narrative seems weighed down by its own increasing burden of social relevance—but Domalpalli doesn’t skimp on textural specificity, and sometimes, particularly in the dance scenes, his movie really does come to life.