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 Harishanker (direction) 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 multifaceted do gooder with a no hold bar attitude is Sastry (Allu Arjun) doubles up as DJ. 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) who as a lad he saved from the jaws of death. 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 trick on him. Bad guy Knicker (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 dead Mom. Between the successful business heir with OCD and back home humble Tarzan, Pooja makes her choice. Meanwhile battle lines between DJ and Knicker Raju gets sharper. So how the revenge and romance converge make for rest of the script.
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 as why would one make a 170-minute film. Clogged with songs, fights the cast is forced to drift with the inane. The same exercise if crisper would have certainly have been more effective.
In short, length is the undoing. Also with so much stated about the good and the bad, the connect is very 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. 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 feel 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 test by the central theme that it is your action and not your personality that delivers, this film fails.