After 9 years of exile and political misfire, Telugu actor Chiranjeevi is back on the silver screen. The actor has singlehandedly ruled Telugu cinema for more than two decades. If the question in your mind is does Chiru still have acting chops, the answer to that is a resounding YES. Not many actors in the world can pull off action, dancing, comic timing all with equal ease, it is something only a few Indian actors can do. And Chiranjeevi is one of them, who does all of this with a remarkable elan. The actor’s latest film Khaidi No 150 is a remake of the Tamil film Kaththi. I have not seen the Tamil version, but Khaidi No 150 showcases all that is wrong with Telugu films. The makers claim that they were searching for a story for a year and could not find one which could be worthy of being Chiru’s comeback film. It shows the lack of talent and scarcity of good scriptwriters in Telugu cinema. It is interesting to note that Ram Charan (producer of the movie) recently did Dhruva which was a remake of the Tamil film, Thani Oruvan, while Pawan Kalyan is doing the remake of the Ajith starrer Veeram. Either there are no good script writers in the Telugu film industry or they are not getting a chance to meet producers and stars.
The story of Khaidi no 150 is a letdown for a comeback vehicle of a star like Chiru, for it does no justice to him or his fans who have been awaiting this film for a while Paruchuri Brothers get writing credit, while A.R. Murgadoss gets story credit. But if adding a few scenes of Brahmanandam and an item number is mistaken for writing, then God save us.
The film tackles an important issue, to whom does the land belong and displacement of people to satisfy the greed of corporates that are supported by politicians and a state force like police. The story seems to be heavily inspired by Shankar’s socio-fantasy template. The model establishes a problem, has a hero or a weak character who tries to follow the rules of the land and attempts to solve the problem. Then there is an alter ego of the character who solves the problem by resorting to violence and gets public support. This is the classic template of Shankar which can be seen in his films like Indian and Anniyan to name a few. A.R. Murgadoss had milked the same formula for his Vijaykanth starrer Ramana, which was remade as Tagore by V.V. Vinayak and yet again featured Chiranjeevi.
In Khaidi No 150, the weak character is Shankar, while his alter ego is Kaththi Seenu. The plot gives you a been there and done that feeling. And considering the political undertones of the film, it seems Chiru is still harbouring political dreams.
Kajal Aggarwal does not have anything to do, in fact even in the songs it is Chiru who does the dancing. The weakest link of the film is the villain played by Tarun Arora, he seems to be a one dimensional and never comes across as a real threat to the hero, which is one of the major flaws of the film.
The only saving grace of the movie is Chiranjeevi. He fights, he smiles, he dances even with the help of shoelaces and you get goosebumps even when he just waves his forefinger to the villains. It is sad that Telugu film directors have not been able to do justice to an actor who has so much talent and keep casting him in the same cliched, stereotypical fare.
Overall, Khaidi No 150 is watchable only for Chiranjeevi, but it is not the film which he or his fans deserve. The wait for his 151st film has just begun.