Khaidi is apparently based on the Stallone film First Blood, and while that sort of helped as I watched without subtitles, the context is completely different. Where First Blood was John Rambo dealing with post traumatic stress and using his lethal skills against the former employer that had made him a killer, A Kodandarami Reddy makes Khaidi a personal drama that charts the path of a man on his own mission of vengeance. Also – the added songs and dancing were very pleasing.
The film starts with Suryam (Chiranjeevi) being picked up by the police as he is walking towards a crossroads. He refuses to tell the police anything, not even his name. He is a mysterious and silent stranger in black, and there is a disquieting fury in his eyes. When Suryam is threatened with having his moustache shaved off, he has flashbacks to some earlier torture which sets him off and he fights his way to freedom.
He is taken in by Dr Sujatha, who patches him up and tells him he needs a lawyer but it’s obvious from his expression that he intends on sorting out his problems without involving the legal system. I’m not sure if they knew each other before she found him unconscious on the street, but there is an element of sexual tension or curiosity in some of their scenes. I did enjoy Chiru’s quick peek under the blanket to see if he was decent before he tried to storm off (silently – he hasn’t spoken a word to this point).
Sujatha passes him off to nosy neighbour girl Rosie as a relative who had been in an accident, and it seems he may have found safety. She does discover he is a wanted man, and based on something in her own past (I guess) decides to trust her own judgement about him.
Finally, Suryam speaks and his story starts to emerge, partly through this surprising interlude:
Suryam is a poor boy who is pursued by, and falls for, Madhulatha (Madhavi) and based on that clip, I’m not surprised she was a bit keen.
Her wealthy landlord father is unimpressed but she refuses to consider any other man. Madhu is used to getting what she wants, and will not back down despite the consequences to Suryam or herself. She seems to be her father’s daughter as he also refuses to compromise and in true filmi fashion he decides to ruin Suryam’s family.
Suryam has witnessed his family home taken away, his father murdered, his farm sabotaged, his sister attempted suicide and was finished off by the bad guys, and he was implicated in her death. Any one of these things might tip someone over the edge, but all of them? He is a time bomb. He has lost everything, and without the security of family and home, there is nothing to restrain him. Pursued by police and by the landlord’s men, Suryam is in a deadly cat-and-mouse game.
This was a very successful film for Chiranjeevi and by all accounts launched him into action hero territory. He is excellent as both the ordinary boy and angry man. Chiru is adept at using his eyes to express strong emotion and he switches from sorrow to implacable rage in an instant. There are lighter moments within the story although the focus is firmly on the trajectory of Suryam towards his revenge. I was highly amused by a scene where a local Romeo was sleazing on to Suryam’s sister, offering her a sari. Chiru forces the guy to change into the sari and sends him off with a flea in his ear.
The final showdown is insane and kept me on the edge of my seat as Chiru takes on the law, a band of axe wielding ‘tribal’ folk, trees that stand in his way, thugs with evil designs on Madhu, a (fibreglass) horse and eventually the bad guys all while using a range of weapons including knives, arrows, bees and guns and having survived gunshots, being set on fire and shot out of a cannon (OK I made up that last one). Whew! And I recognised much of that action sequence from Charan’s debut film, Chirutha. So why are people talking about him starring in a remake of Khaidi when…never mind. Enjoy Chiru in action mode:
Madhu was a fairly annoying character and Madhavi had little to do apart from rant and pout. She looked lovely and seems to be well suited to the more aggressive roles as she has a strong physical presence. There were some positives. As she was going to storm off after a spat Madhu shrieks and points at two snakes, then I think Suryam says something like ‘they’re too busy shagging to bother biting you…look!’ and we have this:
Awesome. A random snake dance that has NOTHING to do with anything other than the costume designer wanting to get Chiru into a pair of silver bike shorts. Bravo! Although I did realise that there may be some connection to the Jeetendra Effect as he starred in the Hindi version of this film.
I did give Madhu some reluctant applause late in the piece when she escaped her house using the old sari-as-a-rope trick. But I took it back minutes later for a lame snake wrestling scene. The woman has played a snake quite well so I expected better from her in that department. But then I cheered again when she managed to outrun several men on horses, all while keeping her wedding sari decorously tied. I think Madhavi did the best she could with a role that was ultimately just to be both the hero’s trial and his reward.
I was more interested in Sumalata as the independent and intelligent Sujatha. She stands up to her neighbour who is a police officer, and has a strong sense of justice. She seemed to be a more complete person than the rather sketchy Madhu and I found myself wondering more about how she fit into the story and I’m sure subtitles would have helped explain that. I also liked her very glam 70s house with cuckoo clock sound doorbell.
The story is predictable, as little except the body count and method of despatch is left to guess at, but there is still some suspense largely due to the intense performance from Chiranjeevi. There’s also a hefty dose of WTFery but you know, I really liked the commitment to making it memorable. If you like your films action packed and your heroes invincible, this is well worth seeing. 3 ½ stars.