*Some spoilers ahead
Almost every movie that comes from the house of Harish Shankar revolves around the male protagonist. The female lead’s screen-time, in his films, is dependent on the star status of the male actors they are paired with. In Subramanyam For Sale, Regina Cassandra was an integral part of the story. However, Gabbar Singh’s Shruti Haasan and Duvvada Jagannadham’s Pooja Hegde are pushed to the ranks of spice girls as Pawan Kalyan and Allu Arjun are bigger draws at the box office.
Arjun plays a dual-identity holder in this action drama. He’s a Brahmin cook who wears vibhuti in one role and a no nonsense vigilante in another; a combination that brings laughs and fights equally. His vibhuti avatar speaks in riddles and is a happy-go-lucky person. He’s the sort of guy that brings little smiles to the people around him by understanding their needs without them having to spell it out. And, as a vigilante, he uses guns, blades, and all kinds of weapons. He dons the hat of the superhero (minus the cape) with the help of a police officer (Murali Sharma). Viewed through the lens of sharper eyes, DJ is Pokiri with a fidget spinner.
Pokiri unmasks Mahesh Babu’s force in the final act, whereas DJ does it in the first five minutes. What we have here is a mixture of Arjun’s charm and untoasted twists that are strung together by natural doses of comedy.
His jobs (as a cook and as a crime-fighter) pull him toward Royyala Naidu’s (Rao Ramesh) unholy circle. Rao Ramesh is again terrific as an uncouth villain who counts nothing but money. He measures every word he utters. This trait makes his Telugu sound luscious. He brings newness to his character in the way he dresses, and in the manner in which he throws glances.
The climactic scene featuring his son (Subbaraju) and him is goddamn hilarious. Subbaraju questions Ramesh’s love for his dead wife. When Ramesh answers in the affirmative, Arjun prods Subbaraju to ask Naidu why he didn’t name any of his businesses after his wife. Ramesh, with an innocent face, tells his son that his wife’s name (Pullamma) is not pleasing enough. All the three actors compete with each other’s energies here. This two-and-a-half-minute gag is probably the best stretch in the entire movie. It gives the actors something heavy to chew on in terms of comic timing, and, for the audience, it works as a jolly good ride. E. V. V. Satyanarayana would have definitely enjoyed this particular scene if he were alive today.
Without Pooja Hegde, the movie would have been about 25 minutes shorter and, I wouldn’t have missed anything. Her character is mainly present for the songs. She looks like an angel in every scene she’s seen in, there are no second thoughts about that. But other than the camera romancing her midriff, what is she adding to the movie? The makers must have thought, “May lip sync go to hell as long as she shakes her perfect legs to “Gadilo Badilo Madilo”, “Seeti Maar”, “Mecchuko”, and “Box Baddhalai Poyi”.”
The romance portion between Arjun and Pooja is unbelievable and awful. Are these staid strands coming from the lack of knowledge of not understanding what women want? Is it so difficult to write their parts?
If the idea is to make a ‘mass’ film with a ‘mass’ star, directors can very well make films without female leads who don’t have anything to do. This’ll obviously cut through the clutter and give a better shine to the end-product.
Duvvada Jagannadham is made up of fun components. In spite of that, it doesn’t give a wholesome experience of watching a kickass entertainer.