Nandini Reddy’s debut film, Ala Modalaindi, was a breath of fresh air. It was raw, unpolished and was at times screaming for help with its lack of finesse. Yet, Nandini’s mint-fresh storytelling technique coupled with quirky humour and practical take on relationships made it a delight to watch. We recalled the scenes, dialogues and the many laughs the film provided much later and even went for repeat viewing. Obviously, Nandini’s second outing came with a lot of expectations. Does it live up? Does Nandini manage to prove Ala Modalaindi wasn’t merely beginner’s luck?

For starters, Nandini has gambled with the casting and pulled it off rather well. Siddharth and Samantha break free from romantic films and go all out to make us laugh. Nandini’s earthy sense of humour is intact. She also handpicks good artistes for the supporting characters and gives them witty lines. But the bigger picture, the story, is where Nandini makes us roll our eyes in disbelief.

Bairraju (Siddharth) is a small-time conman on the run. He almost always hoodwinks the many moneylenders he’s indebted to. He arrives in Hyderabad running away from a forced marriage to a Bihari moneylender’s (Shayaji Shinde) sister. In the city, Bairraju overhears a conversation between Shreya (Samantha) and her friend at a wedding, steals her idea and lands a job as an assistant to a wedding planner. Shreya is no pushover. She cons him into getting her a job as well. Soon, the two open their own event management company. Yes, this is Band Baaja Baaraat rehashed with local flavour. Bairraju and Shreya don’t limit themselves to weddings and cash in on all kinds of family functions — from anniversaries to baby showers.

Bairraju is rustic, uncouth, cannot speak in English to land himself a project and there’s Shreya, an educated, cultured urban youngster. It’s not tough to draw parallels between the protagonists in BBB and Jabardasth. Even as we sit back and laugh at some of the comic moments, it’s hard to miss the lack of ingenuity in the script. Nithya Menen makes a refreshing entry in the second half and steals the show. But again, one can guess her role and the path it will take.

Set aside the references to BBB and to a small extent, Ladies Vs. Ricky Bahl, and there’s some wit involving the lead characters, Shayaji Shinde, Dharmavarapu and Thagubothu Ramesh. Small things like ‘Bairraju Bampar Manazement’ and Samantha’s sister in a quandary over the warring protagonists make for memorable moments. Jabardasth draws its strength from its actors. Siddharth sheds his lover boy image, discovers his rustic side and oh boy, he does have a lot of fun. Samantha has grown strength to strength with each film and is a delight to watch. Nithya Menen is spontaneous as ever and it’s hard to look past her when she’s on the screen.

On the flipside, the episode in Malaysia starring Srihari could have been trimmed. It drags on and the humour is absurd. Too many songs also hamper the flow of the film.

Watch this film for some of its fun moments.