After Srimanthudu — which reportedly made Rs 2 billion in box office collections — expectations from director Koratla Siva’s next film were understandably high.
Siva chose to make Janatha Garage, an unabashed revenge drama that managed to grab attention with its crowd-pleaser of a trailer and its casting coup — Junior NTR starring alongside Malayalam superstar Mohanlal.
Alas, having eagerly purchased a ticket for the first day first show of Janatha Garage at a Mumbai theatre, I made my way out wishing that the trailer was all I had seen.
Most reviews have described the film as an entertaining ride — but it was a ride that passed me by. I found Janatha Garage more of a slow crawl, with gratuitous violence. So here’s my ‘anti-review’:
First things first — Junior NTR and Mohanlal are definitely the best parts about the film. Their screen presence is undeniable — not that this saves Janatha Garage.
A quick recap of the story, such as it is: Janatha Garage is a one-stop repair shop in Hyderabad — they don’t just fix cars, they fix lives and people’s problems. This family enterprise is presided over by Satyam (Mohanlal) who people look up to as a sort of demi-god (or Godfather, depending on which analogy you prefer).
Tragedy strikes when Satyam’s brother is killed, along with his wife. They leave behind a child, who is sent away to another relative in Mumbai, for his own safety.
No, there are no prizes for guessing that this same child grows into Junior NTR. In Mumbai, he has a cousin (Samantha Ruth Prabhu) and a friend (Nithya Menen) who he’s close to — he leaves them behind when he returns to Hyderabad as a research scholar. Once there, he quickly falls back into the family ‘business’ (of dishing out justice and retribution with a whole lot of dishoom) and helps his uncle Satyam battle the baddies.
Now here’s my take on everything that’s wrong with this saga:
The body count spirals ever higher — all in the name of dispensing justice. Vigilantism isn’t the same as justice served.
The Janatha Garage gang is so influential that even ministers of state and business tycoons can’t stop bringing up its name at any given opportunity. We’ve heard about the necessity to leave logic behind when watching some entertainers, but this film requires a complete suspension of disbelief.
“Janatha Garage — Repairs For All Problems” is supposed to be the principle followed through the movie. The only “repair” ever offered is violence. And then some.
The female leads of the film have blink-and-miss roles. That is a shame as Janatha Garage completely lacks humour except in the parts where Samantha’s bubbly persona makes an appearance, or the romance between her and Junior NTR lights up the screen.
The song-and-dance sequences — usually something to look forward to in a Junior NTR film — just about pass muster.
Not enough screen space is given to the actors who do make an impression, even in their all-too-brief parts: Vennela Kishore, Sai Kumar, Devyani.
If you’re a Mohanlal or Junior NTR fan, you will definitely make a trip to the theatres to watch Janatha Garage. But be warned, ‘entertaining’ is definitely not the word to describe this action drama.