With family emotions oozing in every scene and Nani maintaining his brooding tone each time he talks to his family members, a better title would have been ‘Naidu gari kutumbam’ or any other generic title.

Poster of Tuck Jagadish with Nani holding a sickle
Flix Review Friday, September 10, 2021 - 11:50
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One cannot help but wonder why the film is titled Tuck Jagadish. Did they just decide upon that title because of Nani’s strange obsession with tucking in his shirts —  all the time? It is in no way relevant to the story, at least in the first half of the film. With family emotions oozing in every scene and Nani maintaining his brooding tone each time he talks to his family members, a better title would have been ‘Naidu gari kutumbam’ or any other generic title. Directed by Shiva Nirvana, the film is a potpourri of cliches. Broadly, it is the same story that we have seen on screen multiple times. That of a wealthy zamindar —  with 500 acres of land —  supposedly doing good to the village, and the zamindar’s son coming from a city and taking up the mantle to ‘reform’ the village. Tuck Jagadish stars Nani, Ritu Varma, Aishwarya Rajesh, Jagapathi Babu, Daniel Balaji, Nasser and a host of other actors.

In the fictional rural village of Bhudevipuram, the residents are violent and land disputes within family members often result in revenge killings. And it becomes Jagadish’s (Nani) responsibility to teach them family values and overcome these disputes. What Jagadish’s father, Aadishesh Naidu (Nasser) was doing as a feudal lord without government authority, Jagadish continues to do from an official position. The reason for Jagadish imparting family values whenever a dispute arises is because his own family is a wreck. The film keeps reiterating that having a joint family is a bigger asset than owning vast amounts of wealth.

In this village, while Aadishesh Naidu is a modern day Gandhian with Vinobha Bhave characteristics, his rival is Veerendra Naidu, another zamindar, played by Daniel Balaji, the evil person who is set to encroach upon lands and turn the village into his private fiefdom. Perhaps, the only saving grace of the film is that it is not outrightly one Naidu family against the other. There is a twist, you see.

Unfortunately, Tollywood films have always looked at village life from the perspective of Gandhi, or to be more precise, from an upper caste perspective that romanticises it. Villages are a cesspool of casteism. Defying caste codes will result in violence of various degrees. 

The love for villages by upper castes was best observed by Dr BR Ambedkar several years ago. “The love of the intellectual Indian for the village community is of course infinite, if not pathetic,” he wrote more than 70 years ago. He described the village as a “sink of localism, a den of ignorance, narrow-mindedness and communalism.” But in films like Tuck Jagadish, village life is made to seem like a paradise, with none of these aspects being represented for what they are.

Even if we are to ignore the politics of the film, the plot still has gaping holes in the logic. In "mass” films, the audience are made to overlook certain aspects of reality, but how can one be convinced that a man who was preparing to leave the country, had been writing Group 2 exams all along, in secret? However, the background score by Gopi Sundar, particularly during the action sequences, is impressive.

The film has two female leads —  Ritu Varma (Varalakshmi) and Aishwarya Rajesh (Chandra). Aishwarya Rajesh is adequate as Chandra, the naive niece who is determined to marry Jagadish. However, her character is not well-defined. A disgruntled Chandra marries Veerendra Naidu’s brother, as Jagadish does not reciprocate her love. From this point, she is used only as a tool to showcase the masculine side of Jagadish. Ritu Varma is convincing as the Village Revenue Officer, but since the film is from the male lead’s perspective, she too comes into the story as a mere filler.

In this ‘family entertainer,’ with a host of actors, sadly none of them stand out.  My curiosity about why the film was titled Tuck Jagadish was solved in the latter part of the film, albeit with a silly story,  but I would still go with the title of ‘Naidu gari Kutumbam’ or ‘Aadishesh Naidu gari abbayi.’

The film is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the series/film. TNM Editorial is independent of any business relationship the organisation may have with producers or any other members of its cast or crew.

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