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Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Decoding Directors: Puri Jagannadh – Style and trademarks

Puri Jagannadh started his career as an Assistant Director to Ram Gopal Varma. His directorial debut, Badri, starring Pawan Kalyan in the lead role was a blockbuster. At present, he is a popular Director well known for movies such as Badri, Idiot, Pokiri etc.

Decoding Directors: Puri Jagannadh style and trademarks

Trademarks:
Puri Jagannadh is remembered for the styling of actors, hero characterization, extremely casual yet intense dialogues and routine storylines. The hero elevation, romance and comedy are generally found in all his films.

He takes extreme care in styling actors and it gives a complete makeover to popular actors. His movies Super, Pokiri and Desamuduru presented actors Nagarjuna, Mahesh Babu and Allu Arjun in a completely new look that was never seen before. Many people believe that Puri Jagannadh popularized the concept of first look with his styling and makeover. Even though the styling looks refreshing, he doesn’t show much diversity in costumes except for the songs. So, the lead actors look similar through out the movie without any random changes.

The hero characterization is his trademark to the extent that if any similarities are found in other movies, the critics label it Puri style characterization. The lead actors in almost all his movies are arrogant, careless and rebellious. He revolutionized the way heroes are seen on screen. Sometimes the characters tend to be too extreme that they look like villains. Several Directors have been copying him since his debut, but none of them could reach the levels of intensity in his films. He is still considered one of the best Telugu directors in presenting star heroes in movies.

The dialogues are an asset to his films. The Quentin Tarantino style of short yet intense dialogues elevate his movies to the next level. The mixture of philosophy, sarcasm and emotions gives his dialogues a tone that’s unique to him. The phrase ‘Puri mark dialogues’ is used by critics to review similar dialogues by other writers. No wonder most debut writers copy his style in writing screenplay and dialogues.

The romance in his movies is mostly mere stalking which was criticized several times earlier. The love is generally portrayed as love at first sight for the hero, who eventually pursues heroine through brute force. Almost all his stories are narrated in hero’s point of view, so we don’t get to see how heroine’s feel about it. Nevertheless, this has become a trend and many other writers followed this structure for their movies.

The comedy in most of the Puri Jagannadh’s movies is dealt in a separate track, which has been criticized several times. He tried to write comedy as a part of the story in movies like Heart attack, Loafer and Paisa vasool, but it was not well received. The actor Ali plays a significant role in almost all his movies. He used to specially design roles for Ali, and they both are good friends.

Major flaws:
The hero characterization in all his movies is monotonous. It worked out very well in his early career but has turned out to be the biggest threat to his film career. It appears like he couldn’t get out of his regular characterization to try something different. This also led to his downfall primarily in A centres and overseas.

Apart from that, his recent stories lack substance and are written to glorify and elevate heroism. They look good as multiple scenes, but they don’t make any sense as a story. The villains are ridiculed in his movies nowadays to elevate hero. The villains however powerful they may be, they fear the hero. For example, the villain in Paisa Vasool, a mafia don who killed Tens of agents, is scared of hero after knowing that he is an agent. The fights too are an exaggeration with unrealistic stunts that are completely opposite of his early movies like Badri, Idiot, Amma Nanna O Tamil Ammayi etc.

The philosophy based on his personal beliefs gets a place in most of his movies. Regardless of the characterization of hero and the scene, the philosophy is essayed. This was initially encouraged by audience but became monotonous over the years. His jealousy for several Hollywood films too is showcased through dialogues in some movies. The most successful Hollywood movies like Jaws, Titanic etc are made fun of in his movies.

His movies have no place for logic. Several scenes like street thugs walking into the Govt offices or the house of politicians and shooting at them is pretty common in his movies. This is because he never finds these characters important and doesn’t write backstories for them. Almost all these characters are insignificant in his movies, but in story that looks completely illogical.

He never focussed on his career as a Director of Telugu movies. After his debut with a star hero Pawan Kalyan and that too after a blockbuster, he made his second movie with Jagapathi Babu in lead role with a non-sensical movie. This wouldn’t be a big deal if the script demands an actor like Jagapathi Babu, but Puri Jagannadh is completely careless like the characters in his movies. As if this is not enough, he made his Third movie in Kannada, then the Fourth movie in Telugu with Ravi Teja, and again the next movie in Kannada. Then he had a successful career in Telugu but had a disaster in the name of Andhrawala. At such a time, he made his Bollywood debut with a remake of Badri. After Pokiri, he had a lean phase in career for several years. During this time, he Directed a Bollywood movie with Amitabh Bachhan in lead role, Buddah hoga Tera baap, which was just a forgettable film and didn’t help his career in Bollywood. Then he had a string of failures which restricted him to be a medium range Director. His recent Telugu movie Mehbooba starring his son, Akash Puri, is no better than previous movies. It seems like Puri Jagannadh has lost his charm over the years.

Conclusion:
Puri Jagannadh needs a strong comeback to prove himself. With a string of nonsensical films in a row, he has lost his market and became a struggling Director. He should stop making 2-3 films a year and seriously work on a single project that can bring him back to his position. It is even better if considers Directing the stories of other writers which can provide much needed change in his movies.

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