Khaaleja

Friday night and time for another expedition to India Talkies for the latest Telugu release.  Mahesh time!  Even though we’ve only been watching Telugu movies for 8 months, we were caught up in the excitement around his long-awaited return to the big screen .  We had with us a true Mahesh fan – someone who had been there for him right from the start – and despite her concern over the lack of subtitles, came along with us for our first look at Mahesh on the cinema screen.  So how did it go?

Although the plot was surprisingly easy to follow for the most, we won’t get too detailed or reveal too many spoilers in this review. We thought this appeared to be two separate films in one.  It starts out with a very funny story about Raju, a taxi driver who is jinxed by the stunningly beautiful and walking disaster Subbhasini, played by Anushka.   It detours into buddy film territory as Raju meets up with a documentary director, played by the very funny Sunil. And then becomes a story about corruption and environmental politics all tied together by Mahesh as the saviour of a village in Rajasthan. And we should probably mention that Raju somehow becomes identified as an incarnation of Shiva. Our friend the Mahesh fan spotted his godliness as soon as she saw his snake wrangling skills. It was very exciting!

Our hero starts off as the taxi driver who has a disaster every time he meets up with Subbhasini.  There are many excellent and very funny scenes set around the numerous ways in which it is possible to destroy a taxi. These are nicely illustrated by Mahesh in later discussions with his boss by the use of model cars – a technique which really should be used by all insurance agencies. The romance is played well by both leads. They are worlds apart, don’t speak the same language (he is pure street, she is more the college girl) and of course, she seems to be an omen of doom for Raju. Their meetings are usually capped off with Raju’s taxi being totalled so it was always going to be a rocky relationship.

Anushka plays the daughter of a wealthy businessman who has some very undesirable associates, and an eye for marrying her off to his own advantage. She is smart, well off, a really bad driver but seems to be a decent human being. She does have terrible taste in get well gifts though (and Mahesh would seem to agree with us).  Her father is involved in some dealings with GK – the evil Prakash Raj. We were perturbed by the wardrobe chosen for the multi-billionaire GK as some of his suits looked to have been designed for a schoolboy not a magnate.

Through a series of typically filmi coincidences, arguments and relationships (no really you don’t need subtitles to work this bit out), our hero and heroine find themselves in Rajasthan and on the run. Raju is delivering or demanding an insurance payment relating to a deceased friend or colleague or the guy who died and landed on the cab  (we don’t know and it didn’t matter so much why he went). Subbhasini is running from her intended fiancee who turned up for a romantic dinner in the desert and in a fine public health announcement, dropped a packet of condoms. So she ran to her almost certain death rather than deal with an over eager boyfriend who planned to practice safe sex. Hmmmm.

Once Raju and Subbhu are together in the desert, the plot takes a turn.  Siddha (played by Shafi) has been searching for the saviour of his village, a man he will recognise by certain signs. Guess who? Yes. Raju was indeed the man. Anushka was then sidelined for the remainder of the film as it became the more familiar Mahesh style of action adventure.

The ending was both predictable and exciting in it’s epic scale and the grandeur of Trivikram’s vision. Mahesh fans will be delighted to see their hero in full flight, and dominating the action.  Prakash Raj was in total villain mode, and made the most of every second of his gore-splattered finale.

The songs were well filmed and the choreography suited the performers. They were also well placed in the story so actually helped enhance our understanding of the plot and the developing relationships. And the songs gave the costume designers the chance to see how many layers of clothes they could make Mahesh wear and still allow him to dance.  We did enjoy the occasional daring flash of an elbow or even a collarbone whenever the three shirts and a scarf permitted. The modesty singlet made several appearances too. Mahesh keeps himself well under wraps. It just adds to the allure according to our resident Mahesh fan.

None of us expected Mahesh Babu to have the comic flair and style to carry this off. We know the dialogues must have been hysterical as we could hear the crowd laughing and the boys sniggering like naughty kids at some of the colourful language. But to perform this role , and still keep us fully engaged, laughing and cheering along really takes something special  from an actor. Mahesh delivered that. In fact we found him funnier than comedy stalwarts Ali and Brahmi and he certainly kept up with Sunil who is one of our favourites. Khaaleja really is hilarious! We were never bored, it seemed to make sense despite our lack of language, and the time just flew by. We would have to give this 5 stars!

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18 thoughts on “Khaaleja

  1. Great review ladies! I was holding off reading it until I got mine done. There was indeed an awful lot of skin show in this movie. Did you notice the flash of belly button in the coffee shop? And it wasn’t even Anoushka’s! Can’t wait for the dvd!

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  2. So I finished reading this and had to see it somehow! I finally got my hands on a really bad print of this and it kept my attention. The funny bits were actually funny even though I had no idea what they were saying, like in the bit where he names the baby “Cheechoo” and the mother runs off happily, leaving him aghast. I can’t wait for the DVD to see (read) what I missed.

    My only complaint is that now that Mahesh’s grown up past his awkward lanky phase, maybe he can set Maxi Layer Mahesh aside from time to time. Not to pull on a t-shirt though! I think this movie proves conclusively that a shirt is the way to go if he’s down to one layer.

    Thanks Heather & Temple!

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    • Our friend found his elbow flaunting quite provocative 🙂 I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I thought it was really fun, and as you did, we managed to pick up most of what was going on in a broad sense. I liked that he was a cranky, sarcastic god. Yes, I am keen to get hold the DVD and see if it changes my opinion of the film. Khaaleja and Vedam are two films I am really looking forward to on DVD for that reason. Cheers, Temple

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      • Vedam’s a really interesting film – ensemble cast, interwoven stories, good performances, songs that are part of the story not just bolted on, and a great visual design. Heather & I saw it twice in the cinema as the season was extended and we could get there again. It was better the second time as we could focus more on the performances and how things were portrayed, and less on what was happening.

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  3. chala baagundi review.. Mahesh roxxx.. the character looked as if it was etched out ONLy for him… and the cheecho scene.. what Mahesh says after the lady runs off is ” Its not his name.. dont call him that way.. otherwise the boy will curse me all the time after he grows up.. “.. the lady thinks God ( mahesh ) has named her son Cheechooo .. ROFL

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  4. The village is in Srikakulam District of Andhra Pradesh. Not Rajasthan. Mahesh gets transported after he is rendered unconscious.

    And the people think of him as God. He know he is not god. But he realizes what being god actually is.

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    • Thanks aksha. Yes a few people set us straight on that already. Geography is tough when you don’t know the language! This is one film I’m really looking forward to getting on DVD so I can catch all the bits I missed. It’s been a long wait, but I’m still hopeful we will see a subtitled DVD one day. Cheers, Temple

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  5. Finally watched it on DVD – this is one I wish I had watched on big screen with you cinema chaat crew! Love a film with efficient fight scenes – domino/ripple effect was well used. Loved the songs as soon as soundtrack came out anyway but movie has made me revisit them. Collared shirts are definitely the way to go for Mahesh Babu and this film had some really nice ones…not just the usual checks and florals 🙂

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