When you decide to watch Telugu commercial films, especially ones starring Allu Arjun and other stars in his league, it is said that one should leave logic and intellect behind and not nitpick.
This formula applies to Harish Shankar’s “Duvvada Jagannadham” aka “DJ”, a largely predictable but still fun outing that’s a rehash of many popular southern commercial films. The film borrows heavily from Shankar’s “Gentleman” — about a do-gooder-turned-vigilante — but does innovate with a well written comic stretch towards the end, ensuring audiences walk out with a grin on their face.
Arjun plays a Brahmin cook in the film. He keeps talking about the importance of hing (asafoetida) in making a very popular south Indian dish. It only made me realise that the film missed an element like hing, say creativity, to make it a cut above the rest of the commercial films.
It suffers heavily from predictability and if not for that comic stretch in the climax, it would have been plain boring. Thankfully, Harish Shankar proves he has a few tricks up his sleeve and he uses them where it matters the most. For instance, Subbaraj’s character, though slightly irritating in the beginning, helps the film not go down a very predictable path and that words wonders for the film.
Allu Arjun dances like a dream, delivers powerful lines with panache and ease, but you still feel he hasn’t been used to his full ability. It’s not that Arjun is bad in “DJ”, but we have seen him do all of that in his earlier films and it’s a shame we don’t see more from him. As the Brahmin cook, he shows variety in his performance and aces the body language required for the character. As the vigilante, we see him play to the gallery using the same histrionics popularly associated with this kind of cinema.
Pooja Hegde sizzles on the screen in her most glamorous avatar yet. In her introduction scene, the camera is more interested to focus on her navel and she seems very comfortable in putting up a sleaze fest. It’s an art to titillate audiences and Pooja, taking a cue from the failure of “Mohenjo Daro”, scores big and she does it without making her character look vulgar or cheap.
“DJ” could have been even more entertaining given the familiar path it takes to narrate a very predictable story. Nevertheless, thanks to an energetic performance by Arjun and a laugh-out-loud climax stretch, the film doesn’t disappoint. Devi Sri Prasad gives just the kind of music hardcore Arjun fans would expect and he earns wolf whistles with the “Seeti maar” number.
Film: “Duvvada Jagannadham”; Language: Telugu; Director: Harish Shankar; Cast: Allu Arjun, Pooja Hegde, Rao Ramesh, Subbaraj, Tanikella Bharani, Posani Krishna Murali and Vennela Kishore; Rating: ***