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ANOTHER STORY of sentiment and stunts to hit the cinema halls this season is Roja Combines' "Jana." When the lengthy flashback of the hero's past in Mumbai unfolds, there's a lurking fear as to how long the director would take to tie up the loose ends before it is curtains. But thankfully, though some areas — like Radha Ravi's reaction before the lead pair unites and `Delhi' Ganesh coming away to the village with the hero — remain a mystery, things come to an end quickly. Screenplay writer and director Shaji Kailash wins appreciation for wrapping up the show with speed, especially towards the end.

Jana (Ajit Kumar) offers succour to the hapless in his village and this irks the powerful landlord (Radha Ravi). His father (Raghuvaran) has had an attack of paralysis. His constant companion and adviser is the ex-policeman, Swaminathan (`Delhi' Ganesh). As per cinema's unwritten rule, the cruel landlord's daughter is the heroine. She is studying in Mumbai, comes down to her dad's place for a holiday, sees Jana and falls in love. But the hero is in no mood for light-hearted antics, weighed down as he is, by a bloody past. Unwittingly Sneha leads the Mumbai villains, who are gunning for Jana, to the village. Incidentally, the way in which Riyaz Khan and his brother are shot down is genuinely funny — very much like the sequence in "Raiders of the Lost Arc."

In "Jana," Ajit shows maturity in his handling of the role. Don't expect too much emotion from him even under the most tragic of circumstances — but in a calm and composed manner he reveals his agony. Sneha looks radiant and her expressions are enjoyable. `Delhi' Ganesh shaking his head often, warning Jana to exercise caution is rather irritating. It is a crisp and dignified portrayal from Manoj K. Jeyan as Jana's brother. Serious cameos are a cakewalk for Srividya — the veteran excels at it yet again. Manorama is back in action. As Manimekalai's grandma, who secretly encourages her granddaughter's love for Jana, she is her usual ebullient self.

Maniraj's art is eye-catching in the rustic scenes especially. Maniratnam's influence, controlled as it is, is noticeable in Mona. Pazhanisamy's dialogue. Dhina's music is nothing to write home about. A couple of numbers give a heard-before feel. What is cinema lyric ("Podhuva Palarukku ... ") coming to? Pathetic. Ravi Raj's camera hurts your eye more often than it pleases.

Sneha's father has tried to poison the rice that Jana plans to distribute among the poor. Jana has caught the culprit in action and drags him to her father. And the only reaction that the young lady can show is a romantic, admiring glance at the hero. Shaji Kailash could have avoided such lack of logical responses to situations.

A little of "Nayakan" and a lot of "Badshah" peppered with some originality in screenplay, a ravishing heroine and an invincible hero make up this summer cocktail.


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