Duvvada Jagannadham: Strictly for Bunny fans
This Allu Arjun movie's duration is its undoing.
Here in Tollywood, we showcase at the cost of sale. Star quality is a greater priority than cinematic efficiency. How we goad at grandeur and end up with hollow stuff! Grotesque. Our scripts ape our malls: a little of everything, not enough of anything; well packaged; designer product screaming at you; multiple offerings for varied taste; unauthentic multi-cuisine. Tollywood's curse: Stardom over everything else finds expression in every moment of this Harish Shanker (director) indulgence. It is obvious that time, money, effort (even creativity) are hugely invested in the project that treads the all too familiar path. A huge cast is in place to keep the star in his orbit. Watch with a yawn.
The multi-faceted do-gooder with a no-holds-bar attitude is Duvvada Jagannadham aka Sastry (Allu Arjun), or DJ for short. Reels are stretched to talk about his Brahmin (timid) backdrop. He is, however, made of sterner stuff. The Allu in him cannot be stifled. So he grows up to the vengeful blood thirsty do-gooder. When he is not doing yagnas or reciting the kavacham, he is conspiring with police officer Purushotham (Murali Sharma), whom he saved from the jaws of death when DJ was a lad. As part of a large family (Tanikella Bharani, Chandra Mohan and a team of comedians), Sastry is Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde rolled into one and to perfection. In the midst of wedding preparations of his cousin Vignesh (Vennela Kishore), he falls in love with Pooja ( Pooja Hegde), who initially plays a prank on him. Bad guy Royalla Naidu (Rao Ramesh), is in an unholy alliance with the Home Minister (Posani). They seek to cement their political ambitions by getting their children (Subba Raju and Pooja married). Even Pooja is game till she realises that the groom in waiting has multiple behavioural disorders including talking to his dead mom. Between the successful business heir with OCD and the humble Tarzan back home, Pooja makes her choice. Meanwhile battle lines between DJ and gets sharper. So how the revenge and romance converge make for rest of the script.
Cast: Allu Arjun, Pooja Hegde, Rao Ramesh
Director: Harish Shankar
As ever, a star-dependent script is dependent upon the star. DJ works if you are willing to vote for Allu Arjun. It surely works for his die-hard fans. For the more tolerant or less expectant others, it still may partly. One recurring question across the board is, why would one make a 170-minute film? Clogged with songs and fights, the cast is forced to drift with the inane. The same exercise, if crisper, would have certainly have been more effective.
In short, duration is its undoing. Also, with so much stated about the good and the bad, the connect is flimsy. Of the cast, while most deliver, it revolves round the three principal characters: the hero, the heroine and the villain. Pooja Hegde ends up being a pale version of Shruti Haasan. Actors are so willing to be objectified. Refusal to do so is not just a personal call. It could reflect a social sensitivity. About time this aspect is taken care of, at the cost of the whistles that the scenes may otherwise elicit. Rao Ramesh in the past couple of years has made good use of the opportunities that have come his way. He is natural talent and he brings home a fine sense of timing and balance.
In the final analysis, the make or break is Allu Arjun. You do get the feeling that, while trying his very best, the punch is held back. The conversion from the Brahmin to the muscle-man lacks credibility. This, however, is more the failure of the script than the actor. If the film is to be tested by the central theme that it is your action and not your personality that delivers, this film fails.