Khaidi No.150’ marks the return of Chiranjeevi, who pulls off the liberal dose of masala-laden narrative in his sartorial style
When a superstar like Chiranjeevi returns to the screen, the film is mounted to fulfil many criteria — he has to try and dance the way he used to in his younger days, he needs punch dialogues, and he has to beat up at least 100 people. More so, if it’s his -150th film. So, he can’t get to the issue without much ado and talk about farmers and their war against corporate land sharks.
Director V.V.Vinayak’s Khaidi No.150 is tailor made to offer a taste of nostalgia to Chiranjeevi’s fans. The film opens with an implausible escape from Kolkata prison, a change of identity and a flashback through which Kaththi Seenu (Chiranjeevi) realises the situation he’s caught in and the work done by Konidela Siva Shankara Vara Prasad (also Chiranjeevi, and this character retains the star’s original name) whom he is impersonating.
There’s a blink-and-miss hat tip to Kondaveeti Donga, a flamboyantly mounted dance number with Lakshmi Rai and the mandatory comic face-off with Brahmanandam before we get to the issue. In between, lest you forget, the ‘boss is back’ tagline is thrown around liberally.
Khaidi No.150 is an unabashed celebration of mass masala that goes over the top at times. The sequence between Brahmanandam and Ali, dressed as a woman, is cringe worthy. And you do a double take when, in between a well-planned protest tactic, the protagonists break into a dream sequence dancing to lines like ‘Ammadu, let’s do kummudu!’
Yet, other sequences are handled well, like the coin fight sequence at the end of which Chiranjeevi sits on a pile of at least 100 men. It’s imaginatively shown, punctuated with slow motion shots (cinematography by Rathnavelu) and along with Brahmanandam’s comic expressions, is terrific.
Some of the songs (Devi Sri Prasad), which may be over the top on their own seem bearable on screen, largely due to the grace with which Chiranjeevi dances to them. The actor hasn’t lost his grace in dance movements. He reprises the famous ‘veena step’ and plays to the gallery with a ‘shoe lace’ sequence. There’s also an entertaining interlude where he matches steps with son Ram Charan.
Kajal, despite not having much to do, holds her own with ease.
At the heart of this film is a story that deserves attention. Farmers on the verge of giving up their land see a glimmer of hope when Shankar, a hydrology graduate, shows them the possibility of water resources. Dreams are shattered swiftly and brutally when the corporate-bureaucrat nexus plays foul.
In contrast to Shankar’s straightforward methods, Kaththi Seenu uses tact and brawn to take on corporate might and alongside, draw the attention of urban dwellers. The film also makes a comment on media and its appetite for something sensational. Within the well-intended story, there are yawning gaps and broad comments of all corporates being evil. The narrative moves at a swift pace and the package is entertaining, which lets one overlook the flaws.
When the frenzy around the number 150 dies down and if the superstar is willing to look beyond formulaic fare, there’s a worthwhile actor in him still waiting to be tapped.
Khaidi No. 150
Cast: Chiranjeevi, Kajal Aggarwal
Direction: V.V. Vinayak
IMDb Rating: 6.3/10
Genre: Action, Comedy, Drama
Director: Vinayak V.V.
Release Date: 13 January 2017
Star Cast: Chiranjeevi, Kajal Aggarwal, Tarun Arora
Movie Story: A man on the wrong side of the law is moved by the plight of farmers to do the right thing.