Okay, let's do it again
- imagine having a good meal. Great starters, good hot soup and some well-made roti and curries for the main course. Now you think you'll have a small helping of biryani and then round it off with dessert. And the biryani is so spicy that you end up with burnt taste buds. Additionally, the curd in the raitha has soured - you've lost your appetite completely. And then all the same things as then go wrong with the dessert. That is Janatha Garage for you.
The film starts off in a decent manner. Koratala Siva establishes the premise of Janatha Garage - a garage that is run by Satyam (Mohanlal). Satyam helps a poor man who comes to his garage for help, and soon pretty much becomes the saviour for the poor and downtrodden in the area. His brother and sister-in-law are murdered by a rich industrialist as a warning to Satyam. Satyam then sends his brother's son Anand (Jr. NTR) away to Mumbai to grow up in a peaceful environment.
Twenty odd years later, Anand grows up to be a nature lover busy in studying and protecting the environment. He's also in love with his maradalu
, Bujji (Samantha). Anand visits Hyderabad on an exchange program and ends up meeting Satyam. Satyam likes Anand's dedication towards his cause and asks him to come and lead Janatha Garage as the cause needs young blood. Anand accepts and becomes a leader. What consequences this leads to forms the remaining movie.
Janatha Garage works well until the interval. Showing NTR as a nature lover is a gamble, but Siva handles it smartly. He infuses some humor, adds a concept fight where NTR talks about showing the power of nature, and has three well-shot songs with NTR showcasing his dancing skills. Mohanlal's track and his enmity with Mukesh Rana (Sachin Khedekar) are shown in parallel, and by the interval things are poised just right.
It is right after that that the movie begins going downhill. The nature lover part is forgotten and the movie gets into regular NTR mode - fight after fight, item song, tragedy, heavy and hammy sentimental scenes, the mandatory comedy and the final fight. The predictability post-interval is so high that even people stepping into cinemas after ages will be able to guess the next scene with unerring accuracy.
Koratala Siva needs a course in finishing his films. He has lofty plot points (never mind if you don't like the execution) and great stars, films songs nicely, and then decides that the only way he can end his film is by having the hero kill all the villains in the aluminum factory set. He clearly writes impressive scenes and plots, and when the movie has run for a good 150 minutes, just finishes it all in a hurry.
Jr. NTR performs like only he can - using his superb voice modulation to full effect, underplaying emotions in a controlled manner and dancing like a dream. Mohanlal brings the required gravitas to his role, but you really wish he was given more to do. The heroines Samantha and Nitya Menon are criminally under-utilised. The movie is filled with about a zillion other actors all of whom barely have any lines.
DSP scores a very different album - more situational songs that gel well enough on screen but will be forgotten soon after. Thiru shoots the movie beautifully, and the colour template and the warm tones suit the film wonderfully. No expense has been spared, either - the film is high on production values.
There is a fight scene in Janatha Garage in the second half where Mohanlal's followers see NTR take over the battle. For every person he beats up, they react and go "Aahhh - beat them up like that". When the director uses reaction shots of his supporting cast to tell the audience what they should feel, all's not well with a movie.