Telugu Reviews

Khaidi No 150 Review: A Clever Remake That Deserves All the Samosas Coming Its Way

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Khaidi No 150 is a clever little remake of Kaththi. What the latter lacked in drama and a sort of pizzazz, the former has in droves. Chiranjeevi takes over from the wooden Vijay as the male lead in this VV Vinayak directed film that is all kinds of entertaining. 

Mostly, in a good way.

VV Vinayak stays true to the original in terms of narrative; but also cleverly repackages it for the Telugu audience and the Chiranjeevi fans.

There’re punch dialogues, and the sort of clever little jibes at Chiranjeevi’s own failed political career that makes the film very meta.

Yes, that does make this film very referential and full of praise for its lead star. But, given that the star has been away from the screens for a good seven years, its all understandable.

For the most part, Chiranjeevi is fun, skipping to some energetic (albeit bland) music by Devi Sri Prasad. The star spouts dialogues better suited to someone half his age (or his son!); romances someone clearly half his age (a radiant Kajal Aggarwal); and wears clothes (by daughter Sushmita Konidela) that someone half his age would wear.

It’s a clear sign that the star is looking to pander to the 18-30 crowd of men who worship him. And they love it.

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At the theatre I was in, people threw their samosas at the screen. Samosas!

Fan outpourings aside, the film is a homage to Chiranjeevi’s past work as an actor. The title itself is a nod to his 1980 film, Khaidi. 

He often references his years of hard-work to get to the top, his experience with ‘gully politics’ and takes every opportunity to side with the ‘mass’ brand of cinema.

Class is for rich fools, he suggests in one scene.

More samosas are thrown.

******

Chiranjeevi plays Katthi Seenu, a hardened criminal on the run; and Shankar, a Hydrology expert out to get relief to his drought affected village. These are two extremes, and the actor delivers an efficient performance. 

A mix-up and an accident means that the criminal is mistaken for the saviour. Shankar is taken to jail (hence, Khaidi No 150) while Seenu lives it up in an old age home, surrounded by men with long, white beards.

The film leads Seenu down the usual masala film path. Man (with a heart of gold) wants to con people; man finds out real story (that is also tragic); man decides to save them, in the sort of instant emancipation that only cinema provides.

So far, so good.

Only, this film too has the cardboard cut-out of a villain that so many of these ‘big stars’ like. Tarun Arora plays the big bad killer of farmers; Aggarwal, as a pouty male model flexing muscles. Aggarwal is a good-looking villain, yes. 

But nowhere does Arora’s narrowed eyes, and muscle flexing even remotely come off as menacing.

Neil Nitin Mukesh’s Chirag looked like a real threat; and at-least, seemed difficult to defeat.

I’m sure nobody believed for a second that Tarun Arora would triumph at the end; making one reviewer miss Raghuvaran terribly.

******

Sushmita Konidela dresses her father as she would someone her age. There’s a flowery shirt in what Chiranjeevi’s Kaththi Seenu calls his ‘glamour look’, a vivid blue tailored suit for that obligatory foreign locale song, and a variety of vests for all his normal scenes.

Also, there’s that suitcase tag chain. The little dollar fights for the spotlight with Chiranjeevi’s broad chest, and yes, chest hair.

At the first glimpse, the fan boy next to me let rip the wolf whistle to end all wolf whistles.

But, for the more rational observer, all this ‘youth’ clothing made Chiranjeevi seem more desperate to stay in touch. 

An ageing star spouting words like ‘trendy’ and ‘viral’ is just not cool anymore.

******

Kaththi was a cool, detached take on farmer suicides, and one man’s fight against the corporate giants who threaten their livelihood. AR Murugadoss’ treatment was somewhat clinical for a script that demanded passion, fervour and a star who could portray an almost maniacal devotion to farmers and their lives. Perhaps, that’s where the plagiarism charges factored in.

VV Vinayak seems to have been clued in to this fact. For he gives Khaidi No 150 all the drama that Kaththi did not have. Much of this is due to Chiranjeevi. He makes plenty of impassioned speeches about ‘irresponsible’ journalists, corporate players, and the Government. Every time he does this, cinematographer Rathnavelu sees fit to zoom into Chiranjeevi’s eyes. They are fiery and red. Very, very red.

A nice contrast from Vijay’s measured acting skills. Here, finally, is a man who actually (acts like he) cares.

The man laughs, cries and dances like it’s nobody’s business. There’s style, yes, and also relief. 

There’s at-least one eighties star left who can still dance the way he used to.

******

Khaidi No 150 has nice little performances from its veteran comedians – Brahmanandam and Ali.

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The situations they find themselves in are the same old, same old. Ali cross-dresses for amusement; Brahmanandam plays your usual frisky, middle aged man. There are incriminating photos, and an amused looking Chiranjeevi trying to use this for his own benefit.

It’s nice, though. A break from the gore and the gored villains that fill Khaidi No 150. 

That’s another thing about Khaidi No 150. There’s violence, the usual stuff one expects from a Telugu film. Chiranjeevi beats men black and blue, and then makes a mountain out of them.

There’s loud noise masquerading as BGM (Thank You, DSP!), special song appearances (Raai Laxmi, Ram Charan), punch dialogues aplenty.

Kajal Aggarwal is there for about 2% of the film in a major Bechdel test fail.

And yet, yet, yet, this is the kind of film one wants to throw samosas at. 

If only, for the kind of infectious enthusiasm Chiranjeevi’s dialogues elicits. Towards the interval, Kaththi Seenu says: “After a long gap, the boss is back”

It’s cringe worthy yes, but the way this actor says it, it’s hard not to throw samosas at him.

Judging by the cheers that greeted this scene, this is exactly what they came for.

And maybe, that’s enough, sometimes.

*****

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