Jayamma Panchayati movie review: Suma Kanakala’s emotional roller coaster with satire


When Suma Kanakala returns as the main lead on the big screen, you can expect the subject to be sensible and entertaining. The film measures up to that expectations but requires more than publicity to draw crowds to the theatre; perhaps a heart for appreciating fresh talent.

This subject is not cliched and makes you wonder why people behave the way they do in challenging situations. Debut director Dinesh Kalivarapu has his heart in the right place; his writing skills come to the fore in every scene and expression of the artists.

In a remote hamlet in Srikakulam, inhabited by villagers who still believe in black magic and casteism and have a soft corner for Naxalism, Jayamma (Suma) lives with her husband (Devi Prasad) and her two teen daughters.

Jayamma Panchayati

Cast: Suma Kanakala, Devi Prasad

Direction: Dinesh Kalivarapu

Music: M M Keeravani

The fresh point in the story is the USP of the film. Except for a handful of familiar faces, the script is supported by newcomers who speak the Srikakulam dialect perfectly. Suma is backed by a strong script. Going by the promos, Jayamma is a daring, no-nonsense woman but the film reveals there are layers to her personality. Elements of vulnerability show up when her husband suffers a heart attack and when her daughter is having a private moment with her boyfriend in the attic. Overall Jayamma is not one to succumb. That could be due to a lack of choice or because of the genes that she inherited from her naxal father.

Jayamma is a village woman who depends on her husband for livelihood. Such is her personality that when a function is held because her elder daughter attains puberty, she religiously notes down and collects the “ eedlu”/gifts in the form of cash. The conflict begins when she fears her husband might die. So she comes up with an idea to pool money for his medical expenses. When she falls short of a certain figure, she holds people to ransom and calls for a Panchayati. It is at the Panchayat which hears her woes, that we are introduced to various characters.

Like the audience, the Panchayat says they have never heard of someone knocking doors of the people who visited her house for lunch to collect cash. Armed with the gift of the gab and an elephantine memory, Jayamma then recalls every gift of cash her husband had given to their relatives and friends at their time of happiness and calamity and she asks for a return with interest.

Suma is as talkative here as she is on her stage or television shows, but she never goes overboard. When people dominate, overrule and ignore her, she does her own thing. Either she clasps her head and squats or teaches the useless men a lesson by tying them upside down from the tree. The clincher is the climax when the story is back to square one.

The rest of the actors too have done a good job. It takes some time to get into the film; but once the tone is set, we just follow the story which is a mix of a healthy satire and emotions.

Don’t expect too much from this film, it is cute and a time pass story and you’ll walk away lauding the writer’s work. Music, cinematography and editing all add value to the story.

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