Janata Garage review

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It was during the audio release function of ‘Temper’  that Jr. NTR goaded his fans into watching Temper. The movie also marked the beginning of a purple patch for him. Before the release of Temper many had dubbed him as a waning force, but he proved the naysayers wrong on two counts after the release.

First is obviously to those people who doubted that if Jr.NTR was still the box office draw that he used to be. Second was an answer to those people that sniggered at him for their perception of him. They thought he only chased directors who had a super hit as their last release. With Temper, he gave a hit and also proved that he doesn’t chase directors with super hits in their resume.

******

Saikumar’s character while speaking of Jr.NTR’s says, ‘very balanced, more dangerous.’ With a little change, Jr.NTR can also be spoken of as an actor – very balanced, more effective.

When Oopiri released in March this year, people came to know that Jr. NTR was the driving force behind the film and had to refuse Karthi’s role in the movie because he was with the look for Nannaku Prematho. When I saw the film, I felt that Jr.NTR couldn’t have handled the subtle scenes and it was better for the film that he made way for Karthi.

Janata Garage has a couple of scenes which are a slap to my thinking. The entire episode involving Rajeev Kanakala has Jr.NTR elevating his acting to another level without actually raising his voice. Similarly, the scene with Samantha, her parents and Mohanlal is one which will make you reconsider the preconceived notions about his acting. He acts brilliantly in the scene. It’s also ironic that Mohanlal moves away from the frame so that Jr.NTR can take centerstage.

******

Jr.NTR is the best dancer in the country. Period. He sets the screen ablaze whenever he gets a chance to shake his leg. Jr. NTR has tremendous acting chops. He could deliver on intense roles by getting loud. But can he be subtle and yet deliver? The answer from Janata Garage is a resounding yes. The fight where he explains nature’s fury and a few more sequences are indicators to that. He can also shift gears easily as he does after getting slapped. He stays silent for a little while and demonstrates his fury. All of this happens in a matter of seconds.

What can be said of Mohanlal that is left unsaid? He is so brilliant in the scenes even where he doesn’t have a dialogue to utter.  He spends most of the second half sitting in an arm chair, yet he conveys the anguish, joy and pride with his eyes. The man is an acting masterclass.

What exactly were Samantha and Nitya Menon doing in the movie? They have a combined total, probably, of ten scenes in the movie. Neither are the roles are well etched nor do they require extraordinary talent. Nitya Menon seems to suffer from the same affliction as Jr.NTR: not being able to judge the scripts properly.

There are a host of character actors that have very little to do in the movie. Yes, they appear in the movie but having nothing worthwhile to talk about their performances.

And yes, Kajal! It takes a lot to be in the frame as Jr.NTR in a song and yet steal the thunder from him. Kajal does the same in the song that appears in.

The camerawork in the movie is top notch. The visuals in Mumbai, Hyderabad and Kerala are captured brilliantly. Every single time we feel that the movie is dragging or becoming predictable, Devi Sri Prasad redeems it with his background music.

******

Koratala Siva, the director of the movie, sets Mohanlal’s character well. After a few minutes into the movie, the characters of Mohanlal and Jr.NTR run parallely:  Jr. NTR as an environment lover and Mohanlal as a man who can’t see people in distress. Koratala Siva builds the story up superbly until the intermission point. He could’ve taken the story along in various angles. Yet, he chose to proceed with the most feeble of the options .

Though he can build the story well, write the dialogues superbly and get the actors to perform well, he fails in the climax scenes in every movie directed by him. He seems to be at a loss of aforementioned abilities while writing the climax. This movie too, like Srimanthudu, ends abruptly and, sort of, leaves a bittersweet taste. He was lucky that he chose the main protagonists well.

The movie is presented well. I don’t know if it’s a conscious choice or an aberration, but Koratala Siva hasn’t shot a scene or a song abroad in his last two movies. In the present age, that’s a miracle.

******

Verdict : Watching this movie is pretty much feeling like Australia cricketers in the iconic Johannesburg match. They did everything right, but failed to finish well. Same is the case with Janata Garage too

Image courtesy : idlebrain.com

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Naanaku Prematho review

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Brian Charles Lara – This man was an exceptional batsman, doing stuff that few were capable of doing. He had an ability that was second to none. To date, he remains the only person to reclaim the highest individual innings score.

Till 2011, for a period of five years, he held the record of figuring in most lost matches. 63 of them. It was eventually broken by a teammate of his – Shivnarine Chanderpaul.

Now, ala Jagapathi Babu fashion, in the movie, I will ask you to remember this.

****

Sukumar’s title rolls are among the best in the industry. In this movie too, the title rolls are brilliant. But then there is a sense of deja vu to it as a similar thing was seen by me just a few weeks ago . Sukumar has had to bear the burden of being an ‘intelligent’ director. Sometimes, it seems as if he himself buys into the hype and over complicates a normal situation. Case in point, Jagapathi Babu’s introduction scene. The scene neither points to the menace of the man or to his intelligence. However, as the movie proceeds, we are provided an insight into his personality.

The scene where NTR asks Jagapathi Babu to play his own game, Jagapathi Babu, for the fear of being upstaged, asks one of his henchmen to play his game and when he realises he lost, he says the henchman lost the game. That is, at once, indicative of flaws and strengths of Sukumar at the same time. Strength because he built that scene up beautifully well (in a standalone manner). Flaw, because without setting the menace or the cantankerous nature of the man, he ran the risk of  making him a side note in the story.

Though it is difficult to maintain a count, there are as many good sequences as there are bad. One of the worst flaw in the movie is the lack of continuity or you can call it as undermining the audience too. When you yourself are pitched as an ‘intellectual’ or a ‘brilliant’ director and known for making ‘intelligent’ movies, you can’t have sequences for the sake of convenience.

There’s one sequence in the movie where NTR wanting to gift Jagapathi Babu a painting asks his associates to get the same painting from an auction. When the associates end up with a counterfeit, NTR rejects that painting because of a stroke of Cobalt Blue in the wing of the butterfly.  According to his reasoning the colour didn’t exist 2 centuries ago but when he has the original, he has no qualms in placing a camera in it.

When NTR and Jagapathi Babu meet for the first time, Jagapathi Babu plays the game that he plays with everyone else with NTR too. The beauty of the sequence is such that you too end up playing the game with NTR. Like Jagapathi Babu, Sukumar, as a director, tries to put you off the track when NTR borrows the phone from Jagapathi Babu.

The movie is such that the good in it is juxtaposed with the bad at all times.

****

Yes, what did I ask you to remember? Brian Lara. NTR is the closest we have that can be compared to him. He is one who is brilliant in each one of the ‘navarasalu of natana’. He has everything in him that can make him a reigning superstar, but he isn’t. Somehow, when it comes to him, the sum is never equal to the parts. This isn’t the first time that I am saying this.

NTR shines in the movie. The dances are effortless, as always. He blows the argument to smithereens about the best dancer in the industry with his moves in the final song. They are a treat to watch.

It’s  a little sad to see him go overboard with the promotions. ‘THE SCENE’ when it happens doesn’t quite make you cry as much as NTR said it made the people in the room cry. Yes, he performs admirably well in the scene, but it’s nowhere close to moving you to tears.

To call it his best performance would be doing injustice to his body of work. He has better performances than this. This is a different role for him.

****

There are very few movies in which actors match wits. This is pitched as one of them. Rather ‘Naanaku Prematho’ tries to be one of them, but it isn’t. The premise is set very early in the movie and you know how it’s going to end.

Jagapathi Babu could’ve done with a little more menace or some character build up or both. Though the character is sketched well, it pales in comparison with NTR’s

Rakul Preet Singh, dubbed for own character and does well in the scenes in Spain. Rajendra Prasad, Rajeev Kanakala and Srinivas Avasarala are adequate in the their roles. It is good to see Sukumar deviate from the stereotype in offering Thagubothu Ramesh a role in which he doesn’t need to drink. Sukumar plays cleverly with this point too, by making him drink a glass of juice and making him say that.

****

Verdict: A disappointment considering what could’ve been. Sukumar needs to drop the monkey from his back and try to make a normal film without trying to hoodwink himself, audience or both

Image courtesy : idlebrain.com

Temper movie review

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In a cricket centric country like India, the common tendency is to compare knocks played by different cricketers. It is , a certainty, then, that these things lead to a few arguments. Thankfully, the other passion in India- movies- doesn’t lead to such arguments. We have the directors to thank for that.

Puri Jagannath has directed 25 movies before this. Most or all of them have the protagonist playing a loud mouth. The heroes in the Telugu movie industry want to act in a movie directed by Puri Jagannath, because he elevates the hero character in his movies like no other. Simply put, he is the director that every hero wants to act under.

So, with such a database, his own movies, at hand, it’s obvious that he would try to do the simple comparisons that a cricket crazy fan would do. Probably his comparison would be how a specific hero would have performed in that role and how a hero would perform if he were to enact his previous role.

Probably out of such comparisons was born Temper which seems like a rehash of Businessman and Rakhee.  Yes, it has all the elements that a typical Puri movie has, but, as a friend of mine said, and as I felt, the first half was entirely NTR trying to prove that he can fit in the same shoes as Mahesh Babu. Well, he did come into his own in the second half, but the film as a huge sized ‘Businessman’ hangover all over it. Probably that’s the exact reason why the presence of Kajal Aggarwal doesn’t help.

***

NTR has been without a hit for quite some time. He has tried his hand at routine entertainers and failed. He then combines with a man who gave him one of the biggest disasters in life and succeeds. Does the movie give him everything that he wants from it? The answer is probably no. Does it give his legions of fans everything that they want from him? Partly yes, maybe. The title song has probably the best moves from him in a long time. Viewed in isolation, his performance was good too, but as mentioned before it somehow reminds us of Mahesh Babu.

Every movie that I watch of NTR strengthens my belief that with him, the sum is never equal to the parts. The best dancer in the industry, the best actor in the industry and the person with the best dialogue delivery in the industry. Though he is the best individually, he ain’t quite the numero uno in the industry. He is further down in the pecking order than that.

You don’t need further evidence than watching the audio release function of the movie to realise how desperate he was for a hit. Hype doesn’t help him and he doesn’t seem to realise that. His movies release with immense hype and fail to set the cash registers ringing- most of the time.

Like Pawan Kalyan had a turn in his fortunes with Gabbar Singh, NTR too deserves one, but does he have the chutzpah to choose a script that needs him to shed a lot of chains he is bound by?

He is very good with the emotional scenes in the movie and doesn’t break a sweat in most of the scenes. His scenes with Posani Krishna Murali are very good in the first half. Posani acts as his conscience keeper and the scene where the character and the conscience converge is one of the best scenes in the movie.

One of the biggest comforts in the movie is the relatively short role for Ali. His roles are usually reserved by Puri for entendre and vulgar gestures. We are also helped by the censor board as they have been quite liberal in chopping the dialogues that might have had us squirming.

***

The penchant of Puri Jagannath to use vulgarity as a tool to sell his film is not unknown. This film has less of that and rightly so. When the language used in Neninthe was abusive, I thought it was in keeping with the people that he purported to show. But it became a common fixture in all his movies. Gone was the loveable rascal nature of his heroes. Instead we had people whom we would love to hate in his movies as heroes.

Kajal Aggarwal comes in lesser scenes than Madhurima, if we remove the songs. The others acquaint themselves well.

Yes, the pre-climax twist. Probably hearing about it dampened the shock factor for me as I knew there was something coming but never knew what it was. It is unique too.

In cricketing terms, this movie described as a match, would be a match where it meandered along all the way, only to come to life in the final few overs of an ODI. All of it because one batsman decides to go kaboom! But then it would always be compared to innings that came before it and that’s where it would pale!

Verdict: A movie that became a hit because NTR wanted it to be a hit and the people obliged. It’s time he obliges and gives people what they have been rooting for

Thoughts on Rabhasa

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When the song ‘Raakasi Raakasi’ was released I couldn’t help but wonder as to why box office success is eluding NTR for a long time. He can act well, dance well, emote well and probably is the best modulator of voice in Telugu Film Industry now. Now we can add singing to the repertoire as well.

NTR, in a short span of thirteen years, can claim to have been through a lot that very few actors can claim to have. Ever since he appeared on the marquee as a child artiste in Bala Ramayanam, he was earmarked for stardom. It was not a question of if, but when! His debut film was an unmitigated disaster. His second film, helmed by SS Rajamouli, was a fair indicator of his capabilities than his first.

Though he rose to stardom with Aadi, there was a frequent criticism, not untrue, that he tried to use lineage to the maximum possible effect. A lot of people were of the opinion that he grew in the industry with sheer willpower. From being a mascot of a specific caste to being dropped like a hot potato by the same people- NTR has seen it all. Probably, this being out of favour with some influential people has affected his standing in the industry as well.

The last blockbuster we had from NTR was Adurs- whatever the makers of Badshah do to convince you, don’t believe that it’s a blockbuster. He campaigned for TDP while the shooting of Adurs was on. At that time, going by the way he spoke at the road shows, he was considered a Chief Minister candidate in the future- once again in the footsteps of his much revered grandfather. Though TDP are in power, his name is not heard in the circles that matter.

The experiences- good or bad- leave you a changed man. NTR, much like all of us, was also a changed man. Gone was the man, who was on the threshold of Superstardom. Instead we have an actor who is struggling to add a blockbuster to his filmography. He has himself to blame for trusting the directors rather than the script.

His choices after Yamadonga make you feel that he wants to knock on the doors of Superstardom again. Nothing else can explain him acting in two Meher Ramesh movies in three years. If Kantri had shades of Mahesh Babu from Pokiri in it, Homo Sapiens are still trying to figure out the mess that Shakti was. Apart from Brindavanam and the aforementioned movies, there hasn’t been a movie of NTR (after Yamadonga) which has been helmed by a director without a super hit or a blockbuster as his previous movie.

Probably not craving for the blockbuster might set the actor and performer in him free. He needs to be particularly careful while choosing his movies in future.

Santosh Srinivas was a cinematographer before he earned his chance as a director for Kandireega. Kandireega was watchable only because of Sonu Sood. He took a lot of time to make Rabhasa. Yes, he fell sick during the making but all he could come up with a brilliant performer at hand was a mixture of Ready, Mirchi and Don Seenu.

There were a lot of stories doing the rounds of the disagreements between NTR and Santosh, but they were all squashed by the parties concerned. If at all the stories were true, then they must have been because of the poor execution by Santosh.

Bluntly said, it’s difficult to see him get a chance to direct the big stars in the near future

Samantha has completed her transition from a beautiful lady to a glamour doll. While it’s good to see her trying for versatility, you would still love to see her enact the sort of roles she did in the initial part of her career and the one she did in Manam. Every attempt to get closer to the masses (so-called!) with her skin show has resulted in her falling flat on her face. A quick question to herself can untangle her from the dilemma that she finds herself in- will people remember Samantha from Ye Maaya Chesaave or Alludu Seenu ?

 

It is baffling to see Praneetha laying waste to a golden chance provided by the blockbuster that Attarintiki Daredhi was. Only she can explain why she agreed to the two bit role in the movie. She will soon find herself relegated to inconsequential roles if she doesn’t choose carefully.

 

There are a lot of characters in the movie and not all of them have been utilized well.

 

Verdict : The movie might be aired on channels in a few months now, which would be a good time to see it

 

Image Courtesy: idlebrain.com