Sunday, July 10, 2011

Nijam (2003) Dir. Teja

    Nijam starring Superstar Mahesh Babu, is another one of my favorite award winning but apparent flop movies. It is Mahesh's least layered performance interms of the number of shirts he wears (only one!! plus the occaisional undershirt) But he gives an award winning performance as he transforms himself from the geeky-cool but innocent school boy, Sitaram,  to a bad-ass killing machine, trained by his equally bad-ass Mom played by Rameshwari. It's a movie with a questionable moral message about the corruption that pervades Indian life.
    The the first half of the movie establishes Sitaram as an innocent school boy that is harrassed and teased by his amorous neighbor played by Rakshita. She shamelessly chases after him even going so far as to press her breasts up against him while he rides his bike. Sitaram howls, makes faces and closes his eyes as he indignantly avoids her advances. I love that unlike Hindi heroines, Telugu ones are frequently portrayed as having a healthy (and normal) atitiude about sex. Rakshita's portrayal of this type of heroine is one of my favorites- cute, fiesty, lusty and confident.

Sitaram lives with his Mother and Father. They are clearly a family of integrity. His Father is a fire fighter who slaps a rowdy that he caught setting a fire. Unfortunetly for him the Rowdy is the soon to be over the edge crazy Devudu played by Gopichand.  This is one of my favorite Gopichand negative roles. He plays heros now but he started off  getting villain roles. He starts off as the surly and morose just-another-member-of-the-goon-squad, but emerges the leader of the gang after killing his higher up and then performing a blood ritual. He shaves his head and ends up with a killer 'stache too.

Once Devudu comes to power he seeks revenge on Sitaram's Father. This is where all the bad stuff happens. He sends goonda's to kill his Father in the market place but instead the brother of Devudu's girlfriend Malli, played by Raasi, get's killed. Sitaram's father is imprisoned and everthing Sitaram does to try to get his father help fails because he is first always asked for a bribe. Devudu gains access to the prison and beats his Father badly.

When Sitaram see's his Father is injured he runs from official to offical to get his Father medical attention and justice but everyone is corrupt..from the police officers, jailers, lawyers, government officials, hospital workers and politicians, everyone asks for money first.

Brahmaji was superb as the corrupt cop
When his father dies Sitaram's Mother turn's into a harbinger of revenge. She trains and instructs Sitaram to be her killing machine.  Everyone that didn't do their job and asked for a bribe was going to die. That was the only way they would have justice for what was done to them.

Mahesh does a great job of portaying the transformation from fear and helplessness to anger and then ultimatley revenge. He won a Nandi Award for his peformance and I think it is well diserved.
Once they are on their revenge rampage, the police send in ACP Prakash Raj to capture the murderers. Woot! Yay! Prakash Cop!

Prakash Cop is always one step behind however, and the final showdown between Devudu and Sitaram is awesome. Gopi's performance is C-R-A-Z-Y.

In the end after all the murder, Prakash Cop decides that justice is being served, destroys evidence, shoots himself in the arm and instructs Sitaram and his Mother to lie about what happened. I guess one kind of corruption (plus extrajudicial killings) is better than another.

The music was just so-so, the playback singers didn't mesh with Mahesh. The song picturizations themselves were fun. My favorite's were the ones in the first half plus Raasi's Snake song.

I also liked this one between Mahesh and Rakshita.

I also like Rangu Rangula but I couldn't find a video of it.

All in all Nijam is good fun if the violence and moral ambiguity doesn't bother you. Mahesh is perfect and Gopichand's performance is one of the best all time villains.

1 comment:

  1. That's the problem with RP Patnaik. He prefers to sing most of his compositions and they may not suit the hero. In this case a large mismatch with Mahesh.


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