Anand (NTR) is an environmental activist who lives in Mumbai. A chance exchange programme takes him to Hyderabad and here, a chance encounter with Satyam (Mohanlal) results in him taking over the Janatha Garage from the latter.
A godfather-esque figure, a defiant family member, a gang of obedient followers, hundreds of people coming for help and enemies looking for a way to end this reign, and an heir apparent. Not a new story for sure, and yet, Janatha Garage manages to make a mark with a bit ov novelty. With several pages taken from The Godfather, this film takes you into the world of two spirited men - Anand (NTR) and Satyam (Mohanlal) - who'd give away all they have just for the cause they believe in. A man who loves the earth's environment joins a man who loves the beings on earth in a mission, and the result leaves us with mixed feelings.
The most impressive aspect about the film is that director Koratala Siva never deviates from the narrative and like in most contemporary commercial cinemas, there are no forced comic sequences nor is there the an unnecessary loudness and brazenness in the action. But that's not all, this is one story which is never dominated by a star despite the presence of two of them!
Director Koratala Siva starts off with a parallel narration of the duo's stories but it is the point of culmination, and intersection of them both that is a bit of a setback. It seems all of a sudden that NTR's new duty has overshadowed his love of nature. And it is here that we begin to wonder if Siva is just going on a different direction from where he began. The second half proves to be a bit slow and you just notice how glimpses from the first half begin to repeat again.
The highlight scenes in the film would be Anand standing by a government employee (Rajeev Kanakala) who refuses to be corrupt, Raghava's (Unni Mukundan) final plea to his father (Mohanlal), Samantha and NTR's moment of separation which will make you shed a tear, among several others. But the interesting thing about all these moments is how they stand out only because of the performances of the Mohanlal and NTR who outperform each other at every instance.
But it's a pity how their effortlessness is lost sometimes because it isn't quite clear to us what they are fighting for. The intention behind Janatha Garage, a place where anything (literally) can be repaired is intriguing. What's missing here is a strong force opposing them which would make their mission seem all the more intriguing.
With Janatha Garage, it has become pretty evident that NTR has chosen a path for himself. Away from the rut of formulaic commercial cinema, at a distance from the "accepted" form of entertainment, he's daring to look at himself in a new avatar. If Temper and Nannaku Prematho saw step out of his comfort zone into a new path, with Janatha Garage, he walks another mile and outdoes himself when compared to everything he has done in the past. As for Mohanlal, the Telugu audiences will now know why he's called the Complete Actor! His one look conveys an intense emotion. But it's not just them, the film is an interesting coming together of some phenomenal performances from the entire cast. Even Nithya and Samantha whose roles aren't greatly written, are a delight to watch.
This film can be so amazing at times, that it takes your interesting to a new level altogether. But then, it suddenly becomes dull out of nowhere leaving you racking your brains. This Janatha Garage might give everyone a hand in repairs but they need a wee bit of repair themselves too. But guess what, we'd still tell you not to miss it, because the film has a lot more to offer thanks to the wonderful visuals captured by Tirru and soulful BGM rendered by Devi Sri Prasad.