South Stream: KS Ashoka’s Dia

Manoj Kumar R
Dia

Dia is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

Kannada movie Dia has been garnering good reviews ever since it debuted on Amazon Prime Video. The reviews were glowing to an extent where it made me feel guilty of not catching this movie in theaters. And when I finally streamed the movie from the comforts of my couch, did it sweep me off my feet as I expected? I am afraid not.

It looks like an honest effort of storytelling is so rare to come about that when we see a movie like Dia we go gaga. Dia embodies the spirit of an indie movie, and all the praise that it is garnering is well deserved. But, it was not the groundbreaking movie that I was made to believe. The accomplishment of Dia lies in its writing. Director KS Ashoka takes popular tropes of the romantic drama genre and turns them on their heads. This movie is a byproduct of clever writing. And Ashoka seems to take joy in challenging the audience at every turn with a twist.

To naked eyes, Dia is a love triangle - one woman and two men. But, it is just a distraction as Ashoka’s actual trick is afoot somewhere else. He wants you to think that you have figured it all out. Just when you relax, he pulls a tortoise from the hat, instead of a rabbit.

For example, Dia means lamp, whose primary quality is to remove darkness around it. It is such a name that brings to our mind - sunshine, joy and good vibes. Despite its feel-good movie tone and uplifting narrative arc, Dia is dark, gloomy and a tragedy of errors.

Dia Swaroop (Kushee Ravi) is a dorky, girl-next-door kind of character, who falls for her senior in college the moment she sees him. He is Rohit (Dheekshith Shetty), a top-ranking student and popular among girls in college.

We see Rohit through Dia’s eyes. She is smitten, jealous and head over heels in love with him. But, she never really gathers the courage to speaks to him. His popularity terrifies Dia, who despite rehearsing her introduction line hundreds of times in her head, fails to talk to him in reality. Her nerves get the best of her, every time.

The set-up is something we are aware of. An unpopular girl in love with the popular guy of the college. At first, we know that the hero won’t even notice her existence. We even wonder, did he even look at her at least once? But, no. Since Ashoka keeps us locked in the head of Dia, we don’t grasp the possibilities of the premise.

And then we meet Adi (Pruthvi Ambaar). He is full of life and antics. A man who believes that life is full of surprises and miracles. He ushers in the light during the darkest time in Dia’s life. His positive outlook is a direct contrast to Dia’s pessimism. She thinks life is full of pain and problems. Now, we know where Ashoka is going with that story. Adi is a white knight who lights up Dia’s life again. Or so we think. Can darkness in Dia snuff off the light in Adi?

Dia is a tormented soul like Wolverine. Enough said.