By T S Sudhir
Title of screening : Jana Sena
Cast : Pawan Kalyan
Running time : 105 minutes
Release date : 14 March 2014
Screening at Novotel Hotel convention centre, Hyderabad
Rating : 2.5/5
If `Jana Sena’ were to be a film, it would get fantastic reviews: if the reactions of the two film journalists flanking me at the opening show was anything to go by, Pawan Kalyan has delivered a total paisa vasool film. The lady to my left spent more time clapping to the Power Star’s punch dialogues rather than taking down notes while the exuberant journalist to my right put finger to tongue to whistle incessantly instead of pen to paper.
In this mono act, Pawan gave a `I, me, myself’ performance. He was alone on stage, armed with a sheaf of papers, replete with punch dialogues, with liberal references to many of his films. Though Pawan has the reputation of having his heart in the right place, on Friday evening he came across as someone who had woken up one fine day and decided to criticise everyone else for the problems facing the country. Sample this : “Mr Rahul Gandhi, you have to learn from your grandmother how to lead the nation.”
This expensive production – the party was launched at an air-conditioned convention centre amidst 500 bouncers for security and barcoded passes for the nearly 5000 people who were invited – seemed aimed at retorting to the barbs aimed at him by different politicians. Didn’t someone tell Pawan that if trolling the Congress and TRS was his intention, all he needed was a handle on Twitter to do the same at zero cost?
So Jairam Ramesh became `Mountbatten’ for his role in the division of Andhra Pradesh, Rahul Gandhi and Robert Vadra got threatened and KCR’s daughter Kavitha chided for not revealing the source of the funds into her NGO, `Telangana Jagruti’. “I don’t give a damn” he screeched as he vowed to ensure the Congress did not win a single seat in Andhra Pradesh. “Congress hatao, Desh bachao” was his parting shot and in some part of the country, Narendra Modi would have chuckled. To borrow a line from Vidya Balan, it was “entertainment, entertainment, entertainment”. Though to be fair to Pawan, this was no Dirty Picture, the arrangements at the venue were neat.
With 19 films behind him, several of them superhits, this 42-year-old obviously knows how to hold the attention of the audience. So the film began with a bang, with him jogging on to the stage (I must admit I had imagined that he would emerge out of the smoke riding a bike), amidst an uproar from the assembled fans. Midway, he lapsed into flashback talking about his childhood in Nellore, a bit of song and a dose of mother sentiment (when will Tollywood get out of this hackneyed plot structure?). The audience at this stage was fairly quiet, waiting for the climax. And the hero did not disappoint, verbally bashing up the political `villains’. If only dialogues could win elections, Akshay Kumar would be PM.
Pawan’s entry into politics got everyone excited primarily because it highlighted mega cracks in Megastar Chiranjeevi’s family. Ironically, the Union minister of state for Tourism is also the campaign committee chairman of the party in Andhra Pradesh that his younger brother now seeks to demolish. Clearly Chiranjeevi is not able to get Pawan to toe his line. “Bhai, tum yahan sign karoge ya nahin?”
In political terms, Pawan Kalyan’s entry means different things to different people. The Congress is as good as dead in the 13 districts of Andhra Pradesh so flogging it is the easier thing to do. Given that the actor has vaguely ruled out contesting elections this time, all eyes are on who he extends a helping hand to. Sources say Chandrababu Naidu is keen on Pawan’s call sheet and may offer him a role in a TDP-Jana Sena co-production. It would also be sweet revenge for Naidu who holds Chiranjeevi responsible for spoiling his electoral chances in 2009 by launching his Praja Rajyam and eating into the anti-Congress vote. Naidu’s calculation is that Pawan could ensure the Kapu and youth votes come into the alliance kitty.
On the streets, there would be few who would take this Friday release seriously. Being an aware citizen is one thing, being a responsible leader quite another. With his aloof, temperamental image, most do not think Pawan Kalyan is cut out for politics. Besides the manner in which his brother let down those who voted for him, hoping that he will emerge as an anti-Congress, anti-TDP political force in time to come, has meant there is a trust deficit with regards to Chiranjeevi’s thammudu (younger brother).
At the end of the 105 minutes, Pawan Kalyan did not give the impression that he was the new political star who had arrived on the Andhra scene. His motivational speech wouldn’t give Robin Sharma a run for his money either. His glitzy promos talked of a revolution, a world of equality, peace and brotherhood. All nice, positive, noble thoughts but all I want to know is – Who is the producer-director of this film?