'Jawaan', starring Sai Dharam Tej, Prasanna and Mehreen in key roles, hits the screens this Friday. Here is our review.
Jai (Sai Dharam) is a walking GK-pedia, a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, and dreams to land a job at the DRDO. His loving family of parents (Jayaprakash and Eeshwari), siblings and their others are his sources of emotional and moral strength.
Keshav (Prasanna) is a hi-tech criminal who masterminds bomb blasts and worse. He takes up a traitorous deal of handing over to foreign powers Octopus, a powerful missile developed by the DRDO for use by the Indian Army.
Somehow, Jai gets an inkling of this secret operation. He decides to take it upon himself to discover what really is going on at the DRDO so much so that someone wants to steal something from it. He realizes that Octopus is critical for national security and, like a one-jawaan army, he spoils Keshav's grand mission.
A megalomaniac, Keshav now decides to cleverly use Jai himself for his operation and eventually get hold of Octopus. The rest of the film is about the mind-games and cat-and-mouse chases.
It really takes quite long for the film to come into its own. The entire block in the second half where Prasanna and Sai Dharam live together under the same roof is gripping. The pace becomes quite racy here and one would have loved to see such strong content in the first half, too.
If the hero's decorum and earnest patriotism (the scene where he explains why India is a success story despite 1000 years of slavery and alien rule by juxtaposing the success of his family members is touching) are a treat to watch, Prasanna's glamourized appearance and non-cliched behavior are welcome.
But for the fact that two mandatory songs impede the flow in these portions, the narration is rather convincing.
One is expected to suspend his/her sense of disbelief in the climax. The villain has planted bombs across Hyderabad. The city will be reduced to ashes in no time if triggered by an SMS or a call. This is when a top cop (Naga Babu in a cameo) says that it's not possible to jam the signals and carry out other operations because permissions have to be sought from higher-ups! Yeah, true. Why would the higher-ups bother to give the permissions immediately when all that is happening is a city being bombed?!
In his attempt at showing the whole fight as the hero's and the hero's alone, writer-director BVS Ravi takes too many cinematic liberties. The whole world knows that Octopus is being sought to be stolen by India's enemies. But the hero is left to fight it alone as if Octopus were his ancestral artifact that only he is expected to safeguard! National security has been treated as a joke and it's glaring, glaring and glaring!
You have to see what the hero does when he doubts something fishy is happening with respect to the DRDO. He alerts no law-enforcement authority. He goes to no police. Straightaway, he steps into the DRDO building by devious means and gathers some clues (fortuitously delivered straight from the heavens) in a jiffy!
Instead of portraying the global-level criminal Keshav as coming from the same world as the hero's (they are childhood friends), he should have been shown as hailing from another world for better effect.
When your life starts going haywire since the arrival of a person, the first thing you do is suspect that person of doing foul play. But our hero doesn't do that. He doubts all his friends!
The rom-com track starts off with Bhargavi (Mehreen) riding the hero's bike in rain, him being intimidated by her 'fastness' and proceeds with scenes where the hero asks her this in a lift, of all the places: 'Experience undha?'. You can imagine. By the way, the lovers have a regular meeting place and you will not forget it long after watching the film. It's because it's after a meeting at this place that at least one forced duet happens. In another mind-blowing scene, she actually listens to the frequency of his heartbeats and discovers that he is lying to her! She is the undeclared, true-blue DRDO scientist of 'Jawaan'.
Sai Dharam's performance ranges between subtle and energetic. He goes rather slow with his dance moves, perhaps keeping with his characterization. He can excel in an out-and-out family drama, one feels. Prasanna may give a run for the money of some actors by bringing something fresh on board. In this film, though, he doesn't get to speak memorable lines. Mehreen is wasted in a routine role. Jayaprakash, Kota Srinivas Rao, Sathyam Rajesh and others do an okayish job.
SS Thaman's title song and the romantic 'Bugganchuna' are good to listen, although picturization is a turn-off. KV Guhan's cinematography is adept, so also SR Sekhar's editing.
The second half is engaging but for the climax. There are many loose ends. A crucial national security issue has been treated as a mega joke. Had the cinematic liberties been contained, the embarrassing flaws could have been avoided.