The film, a potpourri of family sentiments, humour and action, makes for a perfect festive release
Bhudevipuram, a fictitious village set in one of the Telugu states, is a place infamous for its land feuds. Aadiseshu Naidu, (Nasser) a revered village head, tries hard to provide an amicable resolution to every issue despite tempers flaring from many ends. Come what may, his son Bose Babu (Jagapathi Babu) always stands by his side. His stepbrother, Jagadish Naidu (Nani), returns to Bhudevipuram, years after completing his education and falls in love with a government officer Gummadi Varalakshmi (Ritu Varma).
Aadiseshu believes that his biggest strength is his loving family, a close-knit unit that sticks to each other through its thick and thin. However, a personal tragedy falls upon the family, triggering disputes around land and property, while each of them go their separate ways. How will Jagadish rise to the occasion and reunite the family?
Tuck Jagadish is a perfectly timed release for the festive season that lives up to its promise of being an emotional family entertainer. The storyline of the film is as old as the hills, so much that it feels like an ode to the staple rural dramas of the 80s. Yet, the director Shiva Nirvana masks the limitations of the generic story with a compact script that's packaged with the right emotions, strong conflicts, an enjoyable massy flourish and well-written one-liners. To top it all, he is aided by a superb cast, without whom the film's core wouldn't have come alive.
The film is a story of family ties surviving the test of time; the men are the decision-makers mostly while the women prefer to be occupied in the domestic chores. There's always a 'maradalu' waiting for her 'baava' to marry her. A mother struggles to choose between her own son and stepson in the hour of crisis. The only woman with a voice of her own and who has an identity beyond her man is Jagadish's love interest, Gummadi Varalakshmi, a village revenue officer. The family members otherwise fight over lands, false egos, only to come together again.
Whenever you start having reservations about Tuck Jagadish turning into a sob-fest, Shiva Nirvana keeps its tone under check and doesn't the family drama blow into a melodrama. Amidst the seriousness in the story, the comic relief comes in the form of the underplayed romance between two equals, Jagadish and Varalakshmi. Varalakshmi isn't reduced to a vivacious caricature, like most female leads in Telugu films, and the couple's cute little tiffs make for pleasant viewing.
There's a delightful cinematic twist timed for the intermission that would've been a roar at the theatres. The second hour is a concoction of larger-than-life action and family sentiments with an assured happy ending. The action choreography is indeed unique at times. The irony of the film is that Jagadish solves the issues of almost every household in his village but can't escape alienation from his own family over a silly misunderstanding. The treatment of the film is slightly outdated at times too.
It's 2021 and still, you have scenes of a mom donating her blood to rescue her son, a woman waiting for a man to come and protect her, surviving abuse from her husband to guard the reputation of her family. The screenplay is racy enough for you to forgive (or rather forget) its flaws and more often than not, it's the credible performances from its ensemble cast that comes to the film's rescue. Nani, Aishwarya Rajesh, Ritu Varma, Rohini, Devadarshini, Rao Ramesh are restrained even in the film's overly emotional moments. Maala Parvathi fits into the role of a mother effortlessly, but one wonders why a Malayalam actor had to be cast for a largely stereotypical mother character.
Yet, it needs to be said that Tuck Jagadish is clearly designed to be a showcase for Nani, the star, over the performer in him. He wears his shades, tucks in his shirt with style before he breaks into a fight, crashes gates with his four-wheeler, delivers punchlines and doesn't mind indulging in bloodshed in case he's doing it for the right cause. There are a handful of slow-motion shots that Nani aces with a candour unique to him. The common man-friendly actor is aiming for something bigger here and thankfully, has a director who doesn't let the indulgences deviate from the story much.
The antagonists in the film are too one-dimensional and uninteresting; they're dark and behave audaciously for no apparent reason and don't look like posing a threat to Jagadish at any point in time. Jagapathi Babu's role has shades of grey but as a performer, has nothing new to offer. The efforts of Daniel Balaji and Thiruveer feel wasted. Several other actors like Praveen, Jaya Prakash, Kancharapalem Kishore, Bindu Chandramouli have hardly anything to do in the film but to serve as set properties.
The film is otherwise well shot, has catchy music by Thaman. As a director, Shiva Nirvana proves he's capable of churning out a quality rural family drama as good as urban romances though he's occasionally stuck in a time warp.
Tuck Jagadish is an emotional family entertainer that delivers what it promises. Nani does a fantastic job of shouldering the time-tested storyline with remarkable composure and maturity. The film's lifeline is the terrific performances by the ensemble cast. Shiva Nirvana plays to the galleries and packages his plot with the right amount of action, humour and emotions.