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'DJ': Dangerously Mixes Religion, Crime

Allu Arjun is the Salman Khan of Telugu cinema, albeit a slightly less arrogant-looking and more middle-class Salman. His new film which has out-succeeded the Salman starrer "Tubelight" in Andhra Pradesh, is a curious hotchpotch of cuisine and crime.

In what appears to be a tailor-made role, Arjun plays twin personalities in one role. In one avatar, he is a rapid-talking dhoti-clad cook and caterer serving food and advice to revellers and mourners alike with the dexterity of a multi-tasking Robin Hood.

But hang on. Duvvada Jagannadham has a secret life. A call every now and then from a fatigued policeman (Murali Sharma) transforms Duvvada into a bloodthirsty suburban vigilante who steps in to snuff out crime lords and their goons when the law fails.

If you find the thought of a cook moonlighting as a law-breaking crime buster to be alarming, wait till you see how the film mixes and merges religion with crime. In fact, violence is seen as a parallel religion by the director, as huge dollops of saffron and red are hurled on the screen every time Duvvada Jagannadham turns into DJ to kill a baddie with a relish that he employs when bending over the aromatic pot.

To his credit, Allu Arjun pulls off the remarkably mild-and-wild character transformations with a credible cuteness. He is at once ferocious and feisty. He kills with the same gusto that he invests to making and serving food.

Arjun uses a different voice quality for the two roles. Even his dialogues are different in each character. Yes, this actor will entertain and engage. But he will also alarm and disturb you with the casual insouciance he applies to slipping from feud to food and from broth to bloodbath, from gun shots to conch shells, imbuing the hero's heroics with a startling moral ambivalence that doesn't sit comfortably on the film.

Yes, there is a leading lady too. Pooja Hedge, last seen struggling to keep her head above water with Hrithik Roshan in "Mohenjo Daro", is here introduced to the sound of Katrina Kaif's "Chikni chameli". And the hero is introduced as a child to the sound of a gun blowing off heads. Tragically, it's the child hero doing the blowing off. Wonder what the censor board was doing.

This brings me to the film's other dangerous cultural bias. All the goons in the film converse in Hindi while the hero speaks Telugu to all the 'pure' Brahminical locals from his city. And in one sequence, when the policeman confronts the child hero with the blazing gun, the lawmaker wants to know if he is from Bihar or Chhattisgarh.

Oh, so now we get it. It's the scummy migrants who who are the cause of crime in big cities.

So we know whom the makers of this movie on meals and mayhem have to thank. (IANS)

By Subhash K. Jha

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Tags: Duvvada Jagannadham Tubelight