Koratala Siva is just three films old, and already, each has the same theme at heart. The hero is a personification of everything good on earth. A family elder whose values the hero diligently follows. A romance. A social cause. More dialogues about values. And (literally) ground-breaking stunts. Janatha Garage, starring Jr. NTR and Mohanlal, is made of this same stuff.
There’s nothing wrong with fine-tuning a particular genre. Except, when each new film seems more derivative than the previous one.
Anand (NTR) is an environmental rights activist. He fights for nature. He stops diwali celebrations because fire-crackers pollute. He campaigns against selling plastic bags at a liquor shop. He spends his weekends camping in lush forests and valleys with his friends. He takes on influential people in Mumbai to protect trees and parks.
Back in Hyderabad, Anand’s estranged uncle Satyam (Mohanlal), a mechanic, runs a shop called Janatha Garage. It’s a haven for the underprivileged, whose problems Satyam solves. It all began when Satyam and his men killed the men who sexually assaulted the daughter of a client. Now, he runs a kind of parallel government. He’s a messiah who attends the Chief Minister’s council meetings!
Predictably, the two good souls Anand and Satyam meet. What follows next forms the story.
It takes the director the entire first half to establish just how good the two main characters are. Unfortunately, these scenes seem far too staged. For instance, to show some goons the strength of nature’s fury, Anand beats them in ways that represent natural calamities – he breaks one man’s skull on the ground (earthquake), throws another into a pool (tsunami), and so on.
Saving the environment through physical violence is just one of the many paradoxes in the film. It’s also an instance of just how mixed the director’s message has become, when portrayed on screen. Ultimately, Satyam’s influence on the people of Hyderabad and the government is so exaggerated that, laughably, an entire PWD project is cancelled just because Satyam rejected it.
Janatha Garage suffers from the same problem Srimanthudu had: every conflict is solved through stunts. At various points, the villain and other goons meet the hero. He then beats his way out of the situation. Before the first stunt sequence is over, we know that this will be the formula for the rest of the film. And we already know how it’s going to end.
And although we have two mighty actors as protagonists, the two main antagonists do not match up. Sachin Khedekar tries to be menacing but lip-sync fails him. And Unni Mukundan, who looks fitter and more beefed-up than Jr. NTR, can’t deliver a single punch. Not even during the climax.
With this predictable script, Janatha Garage plods on and on, from one stunt to another. Meanwhile, Kajal Aggarwal shows off her toned belly in a special song, thrown in as a break from all the fight scenes.
This is Mohanlal’s second film in Telugu, and thankfully, the makers decided to go with a dubbing artist for him. It’s oddly unsettling to see Mohanlal perform to an alien voice, although the actor does stand tall in his scenes. He hardly ever smiles in the film and his brooding – not just through his words but through his eyes – leaves a mark.
In Koratala Siva’s films, there is usually one actor whose only job is to cry on cue with hands cupped over her mouth, and then say one melodramatic line towards the climax. In Srimanthudu, it was Suganya, in Janatha Garage it is Devayani. Despite this, the most disappointing female characters are those played by Samantha and Nithya Menen. We are told that Anand and Bujji (Samantha) are in love, but not once do we see them talking about anything meaningful. While Samantha, who looks familiar in her now-cute-now-glamourous role, Nithya Menen, who is known to don roles of some weight looks like a misfit in this film.
After a runtime of 163 minutes punctuated with sermons, stunts and a scantily-clad Kajal Aggarwal, we are left wondering what should be a good name for a garage that mends broken scripts.
The Janatha Garage review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.