Jai Simha: For hardcore fans and masses
The first half is entertaining but an overdose of melodrama in the second half slackens the film's pace
Balakrishna is, without doubt, the darling of the masses. And if his film is slotted for Sankranti, it creates tremendous fanfare. Time and again, the 57-year-old actor has proved that the festive season works for him and his fans. This time too, his actioner Jai Simha directed by KS Ravikumar presents him in a role that suits him the best.
Director: KS Ravikumar
Cast: Balakrishna, Nayanthara, Harrippriya, Natasha Doshi
The film introduces Balakrishna as Narasimha, a man with a dubious past, who leads a nomadic life with his one-year-old son. He lands in Kumbakonam, earns a living as a driver to the village temple’s trustee -- played by Murali Mohan. During the course of his life there, Narasimha learns that his childhood sweetheart Gowri (Nayanthara), who hates him due to some reason lives there. Meanwhile, he gets framed for the murder of the town’s dreaded gangster Kaniyappan’s (Kalakeya Prabhakar) brother. Who is Narasimha and why is he on the run forms the essence of Jai Simha.
The first hour of Jai Simha is entertaining with Balakrishna in his elements -- the best part is the actor’s discourse about priests and slokas. The director handles this hour competently with some feel-good moments in a territory that seems quite familiar to us. He extracts a strong performance not only from Balakrishna, but also from the supporting cast including LB Sriram, Prabhakar and Murali Mohan. The story begins to unravel from the pre-interval episode and becomes quite predictable. Ten minutes through the second hour, an overdose of melodrama further slackens the film’s pace.
Unlike some of his recent outings like Lion and Paisa Vasool which shows him in overblown roles, Balakrishna gives a restrained performance in this film which is loaded with chilling action sequences, entertainment, and heart-wrenching emotions. He is effortlessly pleasing and infuses his portions with the right amount of vulnerability, composure and strength, delivering a performance that is nothing short of perfect. Ravikumar hasn't been able to muster up something fresh for the audience and the film appears like a throwback to several intense action dramas from the 90s. However, he reinvents the much-revered formula with contemporary treatment. Story-wise, there’s nothing much to talk about, but it definitely unleashes Balayya's charisma.
The film is enhanced by interesting twists, striking camerawork and exhilarating backstory. On the flip side, the mature love track between Narasimha and Gowri lacks novelty. Sample this, Narasimha is too scared to ask Gowri’s father (Prakash Raj) for her hand. Naturally, her father isn’t fond of Narasimha owing to his temperament. The comedy track appears forced and hardly brings any laughs.
Natasha Doshi scorches the screen with her oomph, while Nayanthara looks elegant and gives an effective performance. Hari Priya too finds a strong role.
Overall, KS Ravikumar knows the pulse of the audience and succeeds in his endeavours. He doesn’t deviate from his signature style of storytelling and has neatly packaged the emotions and comedy in a film that will inevitably be cheered by the front-benchers and enthusiastic fans this festive season.