Friday, January 20, 2006

Jogi (2005)

Jogi (2005)
Featuring: Arundati Nag, Shivraj Kumar, Jennifer Kotwal and others
Directed by: Prem

One of the most successfully running movies of 2005 in Karnataka – Jogi. Prem has had a pretty good commercial success so far with his previous outings. Invariably his themes revolve around parental love and the need to appreciate that emotion in today’s world. Personally, I was not at all impressed with ‘Excuse Me’ (a review I had posted earlier) due to various factors but let us look at Jogi now.

First things first. The unusual hairdo given to Shivraj is the first thing that catches your eye. He has gone ahead and experimented with at least this aspect which is something Kannada ‘superstars’ are not known to do. Then we have a solid soundtrack. All the songs have become chartbusters with Gurukiran scoring a big one with this movie. Technically well shot and decently presented package is what ‘Jogi’ comes across as.

Dissecting a movie like ‘Jogi’ is easy. It is definitely a commercially designed family entertainer (although parental guidance is strictly advised) with loads of well shot sequences, apt dosage of emotional bliss, soundtracks shot exclusively in bright locations to please the eye and loads of ‘Manmohan Desai-style’ clich├ęs. But is this necessarily a bad thing? Not really when you have powerhouse performers in Arundati Nag and Shivraj Kumar.

Madesha (Shivraj Kumar) lives in his own little world somewhere in the foothills of Male Mahadeshwara mountains in a nondescript village called Singanalloor with a doting mother Bhagyamma (Arundati Nag) and a sick father (Ramesh Bhat in a wasted role). A family that is poor to the world’s eye but is wealthy in never ending love and mutual affection. They have no money but family is their wealth. Madesha and his mother share a very special bond. Being the only child there is a lot of pampering in place. Dance forms are one of the many ways the family members communicate and entertain each other. Simple people with a heart of gold.

First strike. The father passes away. A heartbroken Madesha has found grief for the first time and has a hard time getting a grip with it. He realizes he is the ‘man of the house’ now and needs more money to support the mother. In an attempt to follow his rather ‘colorful’ Bangalore-based friend, he decides to visit Big Bad Bangalore after all. As happens in most movies, a simpleton from the village that he is, Madesha is cheated and left on the roads. A kind gentleman offers him a simple tea-supplier’s job which he gets pretty good at.

Second strike. An unplanned brawl with a nameless ruffian (rowdy alias underworld goon) lands Madesha (now popular as Jogi due to his rather bizarre appearance) ends up in him chasing the foul mouthed goon down the narrow streets of Bangalore and chopping him up left ,right and center. The next thing you know the obvious has happened – the innocent village bumpkin Madesha has automatically entered the ‘field’ of rowdyism. What is very neat about this arrangement though, is that he never really does become a ‘rowdy’.

Third strike. A lost and panicky Bhagyamma reaches a rainy and chaotic Bangalore looking for her son! Thanks to Madesha she has had no clue where he is and what he does for a living. So while Jogi is busy keeping rowdys who get into jail just to watch him ‘perform’ entertained, Mother Jogi is wandering the streets with a rather young looking Jogi’s photograph (looked more like something shot at a police station). With much of ‘this and that’ she runs into Ms.’My-Kannada-is-out-of-sync-in-an-obvious-way’ Jennifer Kotwal. A journalist wannabe busy shooting rather bizarre ‘controversies’. She manages to convince Mother J to stay with her while she helps bag Madesha.

These are the basic strikes that turn and twist the movie around a bit. Goons, cheats, mafia, police, politicians, commoners, micro-mini clad ‘college goers’ et al…everyone seems to make a rather insignificant appearance in the movie. However, the movie really is about Madesha and Bhagyamma. The tagline of the movie ‘A feel that never ends…’ is the full stop if this movie was a sentence. Hence, as always, I leave the full stop for you to appreciate or flame.

Performances wise Arundati Nag once again proves that people connected with theater cannot go wrong. She is the nucleus in the script and manages to hold the sometimes out-of-place goings on in one rhythm. Her portrayal of the innocent and motherly Bhagyamma is sure to win her a few awards in the supporting actress category. Shivraj Kumar has reached a point in his career when one need not scrutinize his acting prowess which has been proved many times. He pulls off this rather unique rowdy’s role with finesse. Although I thought he underplayed many scenes unconvincingly. His facial expressions could have added more power into some of the crucial scenes. But then, maybe that was intentional…I cant say. Jennifer is.. well.. nothing more than a very confident dancer. Her emotions are usually with a wide open mouth and she has a terrible time syncing the background dialog with what she is saying. No relation in some places. One area that clearly needed a lot of work. With her experience on the small screen being pretty way back, she pulls off a decent one anyway. Her costume designer was probably sleeping so let us leave it at that.

Prem tries to do an Upendra-style by bringing different scenes together towards the end. You know…the ones where people go…”Ah! That makes sense now!” and he actually does a pretty good job at that. Although, personally I have always admired Upendra’s direction so I am not at all convinced Prem has that kind of a genius in him…yet.

Technically well shot with a good background score. Editing could have been more precise since it’s a commercially appealing movie. The distant wide angle shots of Singanalloor are beautifully co-ordinated and deserves a thumbs up.



1 comment:

ORama said...

Cool!