I have been away from Television far too long to realize the fact that the cable TV networks have become a treasure trove of Hindi and South Indian films. Films released as late as March and April are finding their way to the Television screens at a rate that was unimaginable a few years back. I know this now because of the simple fact that I have been spending a lot of time in places across Northeast where you cannot step out of your hotel rooms after 5 pm. In these places, all that I have left to do is watch TV or read books as there is no internet either. After a little tuning up with the commercials that really bothered me at first, I now find myself quite comfortable watching films on the Television networks.
The latest offering from Tollywood has been Janatha Garage. The film has been dubbed into Hindi from its original Telegu/Malayalam language and has also been chopped off by at least 30 minutes. I assume the songs were the ones that were cut as I couldn’t find any songs in this film and I know for sure that it had many. The company that is responsible for the dub and re-presentation is Goldmine Telefilms and you will find their channel on YouTube where they gleefully upload the same films. Thus for uninterrupted viewing, YouTube is where you need to go.
Coming back to the film, Janatha Garage is the story of Satyam (Mohanlal) a mechanic by profession who lands up in Hyderabad (renamed Cyderabad) city and find himself entangled with the sufferings of the locals. He decides to take matters into his own hands where the law has failed to bring justice to the oppressed. In no time he becomes a la-Robinhood character for the locales. But his heroics brings a swift end to his brother and his wife. Crestfallen, he sends his infant nephew away from Janatha Garage forever to ensure his safety and security. Years later, his nephew grows up to be just like him in matters of swift justice and environmental protection. He comes back to Hyderabad not knowing his lineage but gets in the crossroads with Janatha Garage. What happens next forms the crux of the narrative.
This is a film on multiple social matters like injustice, environmental protection etc and it punches in a lot of heroism into its characters. There are multiple scenes where you will cheer and clap for the heroes. There are multiple scenes where you will feel proud of the way that the characters take. There are multiple lovable sequences and some really inspiring ones.
However, strangely enough, the film fails to strike a chord with the audiences at many levels. The primary reason for that is that the director is so busy trying to make the two primary characters larger than life that he totally forgets to add some believability and credibility to the story and the screenplay. The film could have been a lot more than a masala potboiler but unfortunately, it settles to be one for the front benchers alone and that’s really sad.
We know how effective Mohanlal can be when he wants to be and this film is no exception. He is terrific as Satyam, the man who masterminds the Garage and who, in the end, hands his legacy over to his nephew. His performance is soulful and lovable but where the film fails is in the manner in which the story takes his character forward. The way he takes retirement, the way he hands it all over to Anand (NTR Jr), his nephew and how his character turns up in the second half is too much to fathom.
Similarly, the arc of Anand’s character is also too unbelievable to fathom. He starts off as an environmentalist and becomes a full-fledged Bhai in no time. His portions with his childhood sweetheart (played by Samantha Ruth Prabhu) who he dumps at the blink of an eye is painful and so is the scene where he lets her go. Also why he so suddenly developed so much love and respect for Satyam is never explained. It is also never explained how he is such a mercurial fighter. His source of superpower is also a mystery. The way he gets involved with Nithya Menen’s character is another laughable addition. It’s way too quick for the liking.
NTR Jr, over the years, has metamorphed into a crowd puller. That is something I never expected when I watched his Ghayal that was out on Moserbaer VCDs. That was a below average film with a flabby and atrocious hero. He has not only cut down his waistline but has also done a great deal with his acting. He may not be able to stand his grounds in front of Mohanlal’s charm, but he still does well in his presence. The rest of the cast including the two heroines and Sachin Khedekar as the primary antagonist have nothing to do.
The film does have its share of ballistic action and likable cinematography. I just loved the background score of the film. I won’t be able to comment on the songs but the dubbing is top notch. The people dubbing for both Mohanlal and NTR Jr have done a good job in keeping the mood and dialog delivery of both the characters intact. I would still suggest that you watch the Telegu version of the film with subtitles as I believe that’s the best way of watching it.
Overall, Janatha Garage is a lukewarm entertainer that is done in by some horrendous writing. With some more sense and sensibility in the story and screenplay, this film would have gone on to become a cult classic like “Shivaji The Boss”, “Aparichit The Stranger” or for that matter “Mudhalvan” (all of which were made by S. Shankar). In a film like this, the believability factor counts for a lot. When you lose the credibility of the proceedings and the characters, you also lose the entertainment, drama and punch associated with it. That is what is wrong with Janatha Garage. The film had its heart in the right place but failed on the execution part.
Rating : 2.5 /5 (2.5 out of 5 Stars)