We’ve seen this parivarik prance in films as old as Raj Khosla’s Do Raaste in Hindi where stepbrothers trip over each other to prove blood is trickier than water. Tuck Jagadish is so quaintly anachronistic in theme, I first thought it was meant as a spoof on the family films in the South and North in the 1960s.
But, no. This is serious business. The property business is seen through the prism of greed and cunning. Set in a village bustling with opportunistic villains and leery louts, the film’s mood of rugged nemesis is reminiscent of the cinema of the 1960s and 70s where the villain tricked the hero’s sister into marriage and then tortured the hell (and yell) out of her.
Yes, Truck Jagadish too has this unfortunate sister-figure, played by the talented Aishwarya Rajesh who has pitifully little to do in a script which sprawls like a lush paddy field accommodating more twists and turns in its robust 2 ½ run then most of us can digest in one go. Come to think of it, Tuck Jagadish would have worked better as a Doordarshan serial stretching into 300-365 episodes. But then, who is asking me? Telugu superstar Nani’s fans would have been pleased to see their hero on the 70 mm screen going through the motions of the manufactured emotions. By now Nani knows which buttons to press to extract the correct emotions. He is in a surprisingly subdued mood here, in direct opposition to the stormy melodramatic mood of the presentation.
Tuck Jagadish is like a bullock-cart race in a puddle of proprietary passion. It gives us what is known in screenplay parlance as “good values” and “good value for money”. The narrative edifice is held together in the tradition of the director Kalpataru’s killjoy family dramas of the 1970s with family tropes like Screaming Sister, Emotionally Lactating Mother, Wolf-in-Sheep’s-Clothing Brother here played by the talented Jagpathi Babu.
I wish the film had played on the Good Brother versus Bad Brother formula instead of scampering into aimless directions. The second-half is riddled with diversions to play up Nani’s star power.In one sequence he takes an arrogant politician to task by breaking the chair underneath him (it’s government property, his colleague-love interest played by Ritu Verma, reminds Nani who promises to pay back from his salary). In another sequence, Nani settles a property dispute over mutton curry, reducing the complicated family equation to a ‘cute-‘meat’ encounter.
Happily, there is little romance apart from one niece who has a secret crush on the hero and another colleague who looks like she could do with some lover and friendship in her life.
Tuck Jagadish, so called because the hero tucks his shirt into his trousers (go figure that one out), is designed to satiate fans of Nani. For fans of Ayushmann Khurrana, it would be difficult to watch the family fall part over a property dispute when outside this clannish conflict the world is falling apart over far greater issues such as homosexuality, cast wars and erectile dysfunctionality.
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