Saturday, 28 July 2018

Junga: First half is Tamizh Padam 3.0 & Second Half is Telugu Padam 1.0

What if a bottle of Bovonto and a plate of mixture are the only refreshments provided at a meeting of all dons in Chennai? Imagine a gangster celebrating success party, obviously, for completing a kidnap mission, by serving upma, that too without any ingredient except a platter of baked rawa. Junga is made of such funny, creative and spoof elements, taking a dig at godfathers of Tamil cinema in the past. Not completely, though.

The miser don Junga(Vijay Sethupathi) has one goal for his lifetime - to reconquer his family's legacy, a theatre, lost by his lethargic dad Ranga and grand-dad Lingaa, both roles played by Vijay Sethupathi, again. So, Junga has to go through a lot of troubles and missions before winning his ambition.

A flabbergasting flashback, an aforesaid all-dons meeting, maintaining ethics by brutally killing a rapist, guns and goons, and long heroic stunts - Junga has it all packed, yet, unfortunately, only in its first half. Gokul's minute detailing and creativity make the first half of Junga to be an end to end spoof movie like the instalments of Tamizh Padam franchise. However, the latter half loses substance and moves with a blunt screenplay, blindfolded.

There is a scene where Junga indulges in a one-on-one conversation with Soapraj (Radharavi), who seems likely to be an imitation of Vito Corleone from Godfather franchise. The essence of the movie and the conviction of Junga is clearly evident in this couple of minute dialogue exchange. However, Junga loses this grip in a monologue of its pre-climax, where he narrates the entire story of the movie to Yazhini(Sayyeshaa). Despite the humour elements Gokul has emulsified over this monologue, and the impressive low and wide angles of cinematographer Dudley, it still couldn't be pulled off. When I put together such instances picked from both halves of Junga, I subsequently ended up tracing similar inferences all over.

Howbeit, Gokul, as a writer has excelled one more time, especially in character establishment. Moments like making missed calls, cross verifying his assistant-don Yoyo (Yogi Babu) whether he took back his pen, stocking food served at flights, pointing out the international call made by Yazhini, and chiefly, swimming across a -5 degree Celsius river to save 150 Euros, reiterate the Junga parsimony every time. Also, the recurrent transformation of Don-Paatti between naivety and thug-lifeness is something smart, that a writer like Gokul can do indisputably.

He also has touched upon the current trends in politics and cinema. The Pollution Control Board reference, Poetu Dinesh, success-party expenditure, production manager's significance and pretended-to-be developmental schemes of the Central Government. There is also a dialogue "Hindi enakku pudikaathu". To put it in the other way, it has as much content as required for free promotion.

Vijay Sethupathi is one of those very few actors who can patently make a simple or cliched script like Karuppan, Naanum Rowdy Thaan or Sethupathi, compulsive. However, the actor despite his overpowering screen presence, beguiling body language and deceptive dialogue delivery, could not save the second half of Junga. Still, in this half, I loved his dynamics in the umbrella stunt sequence transpiring in the midst of caricaturists.

Apart from him, Saranya as Don-Amma is one show stopper who scores a home-run even in the lesser screen space. The scene where she, along with Don-Paatti narrate the Ranga-Lingaa flashback, the consummate performer inside her peeps out for a show-off.

We have been used to hear the main theme being played at every other entry and slow-mo walks of heroes in movies of this genre. But, Siddharth Vipin underplays all sounds and has made a limited usage of Junga's theme to let audience starve for its next occurrence after each sequence. Vipin also stretches all interludes of a few, misplace, numbers eventually making us stretch in our seats with displeasure. It feels like, songs could have been cut-down or at least cut-shorted.

Junga leaves us in a lot of confusion like, how could one easily break into a mafia's castle?, why would a girl help a one-day acquaintance by cheating her father?, and what is the need of a song in the middle of a chase? are a few among many.

Beyond them, I really had a doubt, on who actually is the antagonist. It appeared to be Soapraj initially. As he disappears, then comes Chettiyar, who outwardly is weak. I also suspected even on some random characters like Poetu Dinesh, theatre Manager, Mafia Head, BRI personnel, and even Don Paatti for an instance. But, until the end, it was a mystery and eventually the movie ended. 

The 'success party' troll in the beginning and the 'running successfully' reference towards the end themselves are contradictory to each other regardless of Gokul's creativity. Had he been little more creative to establish Junga as full-length satire, it surely would, as he says, run 'really' successfully and apparently lead to a 'real' success-party.

- Santhosh Mathevan,
Chennai, July 28, 2018.

A part or complete version of this review by Santhosh Mathevan has appeared in This viewer's note is completely based on the perceptions of Santhosh Mathevan alone. This does not reflect the views of two or more people or a community. Queries and criticism shall be addressed to the writer only.