Duvvada Jagannadham movie review : Allu Arjun dances like a dream; film is loud, inconsistent
DJ - Duvvada Jagannadham, starring Allu Arjun, is the kind of film which should be shown in meditation centres to build your resilience.
Now, don’t get me wrong - I’m not trying to poke fun at the film, but it’s the first thing I can think about a film which so inconsistent in its tone that it makes you want to take some time off, after watching the film, to meditate a bit to calm yourself down.
It’s loud enough to make you want to appreciate the beauty of silence and more than that, it doesn’t quite build on its emotionally strong moments to narrate a gripping story.
Quite early into the film, we are told everything there is to know about the film - Duvvada Jagannadham (Allu Arjun) is a Brahmin cook, who also doubles up as a vigilante eradicating criminals. DJ isn’t the kind of film which pays much attention to suspense and as a result, we are pushed to make peace with Allu Arjun’s makeover as a Brahmin cook, who just can’t stop saying - “Manam Sabhya Samajaniki Em Message lu iddamani? (What’s the message we are driving home?).”
There’s enough use of Sanskrit grammar that’ll remind you of your intermediate days and how you used to mug up everything. It’s funny when you do it couple of times. But DJ doesn’t know where to stop it. Every joke is stretched until it stops being funny.
So, what’s the film about? While DJ (Allu Arjun) is busy eradicating criminals in the society, he comes face to face with a bigger predicament which triggers a series of events that change his goals. He realises that there’s a bigger villain who has wrecked havoc on the lives of millions of people. This villain, we are told, is Royyala Naidu (Rao Ramesh). And then, the two indulge in trying to guess the real identity of the other person, which leads to some bizarre results in the end.
On the other hand, it would be totally unfair to brush off DJ. There are some areas where it genuinely works and is fairly entertaining. Allu Arjun aces the role of a Brahmin cook and he’s a delight to watch when he tries to reprimand his family members for not adding inguva (Asafoetida) in pulihora (tamarind rice). Then, in another scene, he makes the entire family, and also the audience, cry when he talks about relationships within a family. That Allu Arjun is a good actor needn’t be reiteratred and he has proved it time and again.
In DJ, he pulls off another solid performance; however, there’s only so much an actor can do when the story doesn’t quite pack in enough material to engage the audience at a deeper level.
Instead, we are left in the dark to appreciate how well Allu Arjun dances and the actor leaves no stone unturned to make you appreciate him all over again. But look beyond Allu Arjun’s classy moves in Seeti Maar and Asmaika Yoga, all you find is a story that struggles to find its rhythm. And just when you are about to root for the characters, we are distracted once again by another sub-plot which doesn’t strike the bulls-eye.
The film’s second half in particular feels like a drag, especially when director Harish Shankar tries to tie all the threads. There’s Subba Raju, cast in a crucial role, who makes quite an impression when he displays his idiosyncrasies, but the same doesn’t quite seem as much fun in the film’s defining moment. It’s like a joke which you think is funny, but once you tell a million people, all you get is empty stares.
Yes, we do laugh when we are supposed to, but DJ isn’t the film which you want to remember long after you walk out of the theatres.
Among others, Rao Ramesh shines in his role as Royyala Naidu, which is a more sinister version of what his father Rao Gopal Rao played in Aa Okkati Adakku way back in 1992. Then, there’s Posani Krishna Murali and Murali Sharma doing their usual bits. Pooja Hegde, who plays Allu Arjun’s romantic interest, is the eye-candy in the film and her onscreen chemistry with Allu Arjun works well.
The crux of the film is that when you want to do something good for the society, you don’t have to be in the limelight. It’s the underlying theme of almost every superhero film. In DJ, the superhero is also a wonderful chef, who runs a pure vegetarian catering service. Somewhere it made me wonder, if the film too required its share of inguva (Asafoetida), because the one which we are served right now is bland and occasionally reminding us the familiar taste of Telugu cinema.
The point is when you try making a new recipe, it’s not merely enough to have all the right ingredients. You’ve to know when to switch off the flame. In the end, when you think about this DJ, it just gets loud, louder, loudest. Thumbs down. But hey, Allu Arjun still dances like a dream!