In Telugu movie comedy circles, Nellore Pedda Reddy is a cult name that still evokes laughter. Somewhere down the line, the Telugu film industry started taking its Nellore Pedda Reddy way too seriously. As a result, we are never short of overtly jingoistic movies whose sole purpose is to elevate the hero – almost comically, for the now-well-versed audience.
K S Ravikumar’s Jai Simha is the jarring tale of a bunch of people who can’t get enough of screaming and fighting with each other, with one man trying to be the destroyer of evil and protector of the innocent. Er, like Superman on a bad-hair day?
Narasimha (Nandamuri Balakrishna), in his urge to help people, ends up stoking hostilities with some nasty, bloodthirsty people. But, since it is time-consuming to actually create feasible back-stories, the screenplay uses a simple placeholder – younger brothers of villains, who end up dead.
A don in Kumbakonam and another with powerful political aspirations have both lost their dear younger brothers thanks to that darling of the masses, Narasimha. They unwittingly try to take revenge, but little do they know the power of a Telugu movie hero. He can lift a police van with one hand, make a mockery of Archimedes by getting a bed, with the villain on it, to turn 90 degrees vertically, and smash his way through from inside a goods-container with his SUV. I am talking 0 to 100 in no seconds!
There is Gauri (Nayantara), the protagonist’s love interest who brings grace to the proceedings, but can she salvage such a comically loud saga? Gauri’s father (Prakash Raj), who was also Narasimha’s teacher, convinces him to walk away from her life, given that the latter’s life was perpetually in danger because of his vigilante activities.
In order to achieve that, he marries Manga (Hariprriya), who ends up dying anyway, because, well, she was there just for a song and to give him twins, whom Narasimha eventually hands over to Gauri (anonymously, because true love!).
If that doesn’t sound bizarre enough, there is also a dishonest cop turned mute spectator married to Gauri. After some shenanigans early on in the movie, he is pretty much there to admire Narasimha, like a Justin Bieber fan.
Amidst awkwardly flying stuntmen and gaudy suits, not to mention some really creepy dance moves and Brahmanandam’s stale comedy-side-plot, the movie hurtles towards a rather quiet ending – the hero walking away because the love of his life has to be happy with her husband and kid, who by the way is not hers.
It is hard to understand why this movie was made. It would have been much cheaper to take a bunch of other Telugu movies, chop parts of them and put them together, and end up with something cleaner than this. Telugu cinema’s obsession with the use of knives, axes and sickles in the modern era is rather weird too.
To complete the rather staid formula, there are also a couple of punch dialogues and preaching, this time about the importance of temples and priests. Can we really separate our politics from our movies?
The songs are dull and the choreography is an embarrassment; the overblown heroism is so outdated this movie would have been a right fit for the 90s. The enormously talented cast, which includes Ashutosh Rana and JP Reddy, manages to crucify itself at the altar of blockbuster heroism fuelled by antediluvian revenge plots. Seriously, the audience deserves better during the festive season!
Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Neither TNM nor any of its reviewers have any sort of business relationship with the film's producers or any other members of its cast and crew.