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Home   >   Updates  > News   >  Panjaa - an excellent review by Hemanth

Panjaa - an excellent review by Hemanth

Pawan Kalyan’s star power needs no introduction and for more than ten years, he has been trying his best to do everything to enthrall his fans. I am certainly not one among them and I have no qualms accepting this fact. Except for Jalsa, I can’t think of a single film that I liked from his filmography since Thammudu (I didn’t like Khushi for some reason). Yet, the moment I stepped out of Panjaa, I knew that I had liked the film for what it was. Maybe it did help that I was expecting a film about Jai (not Powerstar Pawan Kalyan) set in a mafia backdrop. It certainly made a whole lot of difference compared to so many other viewers and critics who seem to know exactly what a Powerstar’s film should contain.

Everyone expects films to be entertaining and that’s fair because it’s the order of the day. Action entertainers are in vogue but to expect every film to be entertaining (read as packed with action, comedy, romance and emotion) is one of the tragedies of the current trend. Maybe that’s where Panjaa stands apart or for those who didn’t like the film, fails. Directed by Vishnu Vardhan, the film has Pawan Kalyan, Sarah Jane Dias, Anjali Lavania, Jackie Shroff, Adivi Shesh, Thanikella Bharani, Atul Kulkarni, Ali and Brahmanandam in lead roles.

Pawan Kalyan plays Jai, a close aide of a mafia don Bhagwan (Jackie Shroff). Vishnu Vardhan takes us right into the story and leaves it us to guess how powerful Bhagwan is. The opening scene shot on Atul Kulkarni introducing Jai as Bhagwan’s shadow is a clever scene to establish the lead character. Twenty minutes later, it becomes clear that Vishnu Vardhan had brought in his own style into the film’s narration and it’s not the usual Pawan Kalyan’s film which his fans have got used to for more than a decade. What I really really loved about the film is Vishnu Vardhan manages to keep Pawan Kalyan as Jai throughout the film. I can’t think of any other director in the past ten years who has been able to do that. For once, it was refreshing to see that the film gives more importance to lot more characters rather than stick to one character.

Jai believes in loyalty towards the man who stood by him in his darkest hour and he vows to do anything to protect him. Although he kills people, he’s not entirely a bad person. We come to know that since he missed a lot of things in his childhood, he spends a lot of time in a nursery. It makes him happy, even though it’s only for a little while. He yearns to be a good man, although his loyalty towards Bhagwan often brings him back to the dark side of his life. This is the story of a man who’s torn by what’s happening in his heart.

When Jai falls in love with Sandhya (Sarah Jane Dias), it helps him to take his mind off the clean up act he usually does for Bhagwan. He likes spending time with her and soon realizes that he’s in love with her. In turn, Sandhya likes his company although she doesn’t realize until much later that she’s in love with him. After a while, he only cares about three people – Chotu (Ali), Sandhya and Jhanavi (Anjali Lavania) because they remind him of the other side of life. The good and happy side of life. No wonder, when two of them are killed, he’s blinded by mad rage and vows to avenge their deaths. Bad things happen when the entire story is about people who are morally corrupt. We are told that power matters the most in mafia business and people can go to any length to have power.

One of my favourite scenes in the film comes in the second half. Jai removes his shoes and runs for a while in the hills near Sandhya’s (Sarah Jane Dias) house. He tells her that it reminded him of his childhood when he used to fly kites. Being with her at that moment means the world to him and he ends up confessing everything about his life to let go the burden of holding a secret for too long. In those five minutes, the whole crux of Jai’s characterization becomes clear.

Panjaa is a well-written tale about people who would do anything for their love, respect and power. The ‘so-called’ weak storyline has one of the best three-act structures I have seen in recent times. The characters are introduced, a lot of things go wrong in the middle of the journey and finally the protagonist has his revenge. Of course, it evokes a déjà vu in terms of how the story is narrated because of the choices Vishnu Vardhan makes right in the beginning of the film. Maybe only he can answer why he chose to narrate a story where the story progresses exactly how it should throughout the film. Mind you, there’s nothing sophisticated about the film’s central conflict. If someone tells you that there’s no ‘conflict’ in the film, then that person might have been watching the wrong film. This film is a story about one man’s internal conflict as much as it is about his conflict with the antagonists.

Pawan Kalyan excels in his role. Yes, he doesn’t show-off his full potential and energy in this film, but considering that he did exactly what he must for the role, his performance stands out. At no point of time, does the Powerstar dominate Jai and that was quite refreshing to see. The film’s other stand out performance comes from Adivi Sesh, who plays Munna. His characterization bears striking resemblance to Sundeep Kishan’s role in Deva Katta’s Prasthanam and Sesh has done an amazing job as the badass guy who fucks up a whole lot of things due to his impulsive nature. Bhagwan (Jackie Shroff) loves his son, Munna (Adivi Sesh) way too much and it’s completely justified that he wants to kill Jai, despite the latter being his most trusted aide for twenty years. Thanikella Bharani and Atul Kulkarni have decent roles and they deliver credible performances.

There’s a reason why the onscreen chemistry between Sandhya (Sarah Jane Dias) and Jai (Pawan Kalyan) lacks the zing which you normally expect. Jai is a mafia guy and to expect him to be like a 20-something whose hormones are on full throttle is a bit too much to ask for. The romance is subtle and it remains so for most part of the film. Anjali Lavania plays a club dancer who’s in love with Jai and she’s alright in her role. Ali and Brahmanandam have limited screen time and you can’t blame them for not bringing the house down with their antics.

Shot mostly in Kolkata, the film’s cinematography is another stand out feature. Call it slick or stylish, PS Vinod leaves a distinct mark with his cinematography. Yuvan Shankar Raja’s music is good and it’s still surprising why most of the songs were kept as bit numbers in the final edit. And kudos to Vishnu Vardhan! To have one of the biggest stars in Telugu cinema as the protagonist and making him stay within the character is quite an achievement. It’s true that the film’s best portions come in the first half and most part of the second half revolves around Pawan Kalyan and Brahmanandam, but there was hardly a moment where the story and narration seemed awkward. Right after the interval bang, you can imagine how the story would unfold and except for couple of twists, the proceedings go as you would have predicted.

Panjaa is not an extra-ordinary film but it has enough substance to appreciate the finer nuances. All you need is a little patience and an open mind to realize that it’s not a ‘laugh-out-loud’ entertainer. Words like a ‘sensible film’, ‘riveting action drama’ seem too alien but Panjaa is exactly that sort of film. And come on, you can’t complain about the ‘violence’ in the film. It’s a film about people who kill each other at the drop of hat for heaven’s sake!

P.S : Since a lot of you have already concluded that there’s ‘nothing’ in the film, good luck with ‘Gabbar Singh’. I sincerely hope that you find ‘a lot’ of things in that film to rave about.



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