With a mass hero like Vijay in the cast and with a veteran talented superstar like Mohanlal to complement him, one expected ‘Jilla’ to be an electrifying ‘Pongal’ fare. The film did have an interesting premise, but the director fails to capitalise on it. A weak, convoluted screenplay, lacklustre narration and lack of depth in characterization and situations, makes sure that what was served was insipid fare.
The film begins well enough. The early scenes depict the power that businessman and local don Shiva (Mohanlal) wields over Madurai. Shiva’s right hand man is Shakti - his adopted son (Vijay). How the bond between them became strong is captured in a few scenes. The introduction scenes of both Vijay and Mohanlal are impressively crafted.
Shakti detests cops due to his childhood experience. At a point when the don decides that Shakti should be a police officer if his empire and clout were to be safeguarded, Shakti consents. But a horrific incident (a well taken scene) turns a conscience stricken Shakti against his father. What could have been an interesting encounter between the father and son is diverted by the entry of a hidden villain, with a 20-year-old agenda of vendetta.
Jilla has shades of ‘Dheena’, an Ajith starrer. Vijay, likable in the earlier scenes as the carefree Shakti, makes a futile attempt to fit into the shoes of the serious, conscience stricken cop. Mohanlal’s role is limited to a few repeated dialogues and actions. The actor’s talent could have been better exploited, particularly in the second half. But both the actors lack scenes that are meaty and moments that are challenging.
The romantic track between Vijay and Kajal, who plays a cop, is far from interesting. Her character cuts a sorry figure, being regularly pawed by the hero in the name of comedy and romance. Soori’s comic antics fail to work.
Many times the director seems to lose grip on his narration. There are sub plots that are irrelevant, like that of Shakti’s sister. The frequent recourse to flashbacks to enhance the emotional-quotient is jarring. Too many songs intrude further slackening the pace. And at about three hours of viewing time, ‘Jilla’ is too long and dreary a journey.