Losing steam is a luxury excellence cannot afford.
Much like a Merc running into unexpected ignition troubles smack in the middle of a traffic-laden road, causing untold agony to motorists in a mile's radius, Julaayi is a sorry waste of a beauty of a film. What makes it hurt twice over is that for many, it's a picnic gone wrong, and not just a trainwreck in the distance. This Trivikram Srinivas - Allu Arjun combination was supposed to have been a formidable entertainer - a return to the post-Pokiri
Tollywoodian combination of writing, slickness and star power.
And indeed, that is how it starts - on a high note. Ravinder Narayan (Allu Arjun) is a brilliant 25-year-old, jobless and lazy, and generally given to smart-aleck-ness of the "I am smarter than an Einstein equation" kind. One day, after a heated conversation with his father (Tanikella Bharani) about how he is contemptuous of the middle-class pace of life, and how he wants to make it big really fast, Ravi heads to a pub to make some quick money gambling.
A seemingly casual conversation with a bunch of suspicious-looking people on the way (Sonu Sood and gang) changes his life forever, as Ravi then gets involved as a witness in a massive bank robbery that a gangster (Sonu Sood) called Bittu pulls off. Bittu is arrested but soon gets away.
Meanwhile, as part of a witness protection program, Ravi is sent to Hyderabad to live with Sitaram (Rajendra Prasad), a faint-hearted cop who has never shot a bullet into anyone in his entire career. The Bittu-Ravi games then begin, and fun ensues.
For about an hour, Julaayi is absolutely electric, with Trivikram's sumptuous dialogues owning the film. There are moments when you realize that Trivikram isn't a writer of merely lines - he also has mastery over the visual, the screenplay, the parts of the scenes that must be watched
and not merely heard. What does justice to his incisive dialogues is the expert team on screen, and with Allu Arjun leading the pack, it only seems uphill from there.
But later, when Ravi rants at how the police are so incapable they let the criminal get away twice
from under their noses, you cannot help feeling a bit cheated yourself - it is clear that Bittu's repeated escapes are a ploy to keep the plot going despite it having run out of fuel. The story could have been wound up pre-interval, but it is not. The second half of Julaayi is then a huge set-up for something really big - that doesn't happen. There's nothing going on between the hero and the villain for a long long time, and in the meantime, we have Ravi wooing Madhu with a gun, and also a semi-funny scene with their parents meeting.
What goes wrong with these potentially perfect movies, then? Why do even the best of our writer-directors give in to the folly of driving this "pre-interval/post-interval" wedge into their plots? Why can't we have seamless entertainers where "Interval" doesn't mean a change in audience experience?
In any case, the dry humour is rather brilliantly written, and that saves Julaayi from going into absolute decay. With Ravi teaming up with Sitaram, and his wooing his plain-Jane (but not for long) heroine Madhu (Ileana), there are some fun scenes to indulge in.
The acting is as good as it can get. Allu Arjun's stardom doesn't overshadow Ravi, and he makes for the perfect self-assured rebel that the movie is all about. Ravi, in fact, is a well-etched character that doesn't find a parallel in the rest of the film. Ileana looked like she has a meaningful role, but as it turns out, she's limited to being cute and helpless.
Sonu Sood is your usual lanky villain, and while his lip-sync goes awry, it's nice to see him back. Brahmaji and a couple of others aid him. Rajendra Prasad has a key role in the film, as do Rao Ramesh (as a police officer) and the set of comedians - Brahmanandam, M S Narayana and Dharmavarapu. Posani Krishna Murali makes a brief (albeit much cheered-on) appearance, Vennela Kishore has a 2-minute cameo, Ali appears for a brief minute, and Udaya Bhanu dances for around 30 seconds.
Devi Sri Prasad (who also breaks into a jig himself, with "Bunny") has a hit on his hands. The songs are far too many and far too ill-placed, though. The film is visually slick, but the action sequences aren't too extra-ordinary.
Julaayi could have been a much better film, but it might just do as long as you're not wagering your life on it.