Khaidi No 150

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I thought the original film (Kaththi) was mediocre so I had low expectations. And I was honestly happy at seeing Big Chiru on screen, my first ever Megastar FDFS, and the bonus of subtitles. The audience went nuts when Chiru’s foot first appeared. Apparently I am not the only one who takes a keen interest in Mega Footwear. And the screaming and paper throwing erupted at the start of every song and every fight. It felt so good to be among my people.

The story goes like this. Escaped convict Seenu (Chiranjeevi) witnesses an attempted hit on a stranger, Sankar (Chiranjeevi). He takes Sankar to hospital but swaps over their ID so he can remain free, assuming that the police will let the other man go once they realise the error. Seenu then impersonates Sankar, and acquires a nursing home full of old men from the village of Neeru. As he understand their story, and gets to watch a handy documentary on Sankar’s crusade against the evil corporates, Seenu takes up the fight as his own.

In many ways this is a perfect comeback vehicle for Chiranjeevi. The dual role and the breadth of the action means no matter what his fans want from him, they’re likely to get it. He delivers action, big speeches, garish outfits, and some of his trademark dance moves (the veena step!), all with minor modification to suit a gentleman of a certain age. And most of that is done in the initial prologue section. The dual role means he can play both mass and class aspects of the standard hero, and even asks Lakshmi (Kajal) which she prefers before telling her his name. Sankar wears brainy glasses (HOT. Just saying) where Seenu has a more flamboyant style. There are references both in the script and the background music to his previous films, some of them drawing roars of appreciation from a very vocal crowd. He has a sidekick (Ali), an enemy (Tarun Arora), a frenemy (Brahmanandam as Doberman), and many comedy uncles and familiar actors as supports, dependants, and thugs. He also has an irrelevant love interest. See? Everything!

I was wondering how they would deal with the age gap between Chiru and Kajal and the answer is that Seenu thinks Lakshmi is a childhood sweetheart, but then realises they just look alike. So I decided that young at heart Seenu always thinks of himself as that twenty-something dude about town rather than thinking we’d believe they were actually the same age. I really should be on the payroll to find far-fetched solutions to ill-conceived plot devices…And the fight scenes are grand and full of energy, even though Chiru has long since left his limber acrobatic years behind. The songs also work to cover over the years because they are more a platform for people to worship the Megastar not a display of romance. The lyrics are mostly about how great he is, the choreo is very peacock-esque as he and the backing dudes strut their stuff, and the ladies just wiggle when in shot.

“Ammadu lets do Kummudu” is probably the worst song I will hear this year but as soon as it was over I would have hit replay if I could have. It has all the visuals I could ask for – prancing, colourful outfits, bedazzled Mega-shoes, and a guest appearance by Charan. Father and son look so chuffed to be dancing together. The backing dancer costumes are a wonder throughout. From drapey chiffon to see through plastic jackets, you name it, they had to wear it.

Kajal’s character is irrelevant, and she can hardly dance, so I really paid little attention to her. However. In every song picturisation she wears extremely sensible walking shoes regardless of her dress. So I was mildly diverted and wondered if it was due to her height compared to Chiru, perhaps she had an injury and couldn’t wear the usual ugly strappy sandals, was it some kind of statement. I don’t know. I doubt that this is what she wants to be remembered for but it really is the most interesting thing about Lakshmi.

Farmer suicide is a real issue given pretty superficial treatment by V.V Vinayak, although I appreciate he tried to show the effects of the ever shortening media cycle on long running issues. But the main components of the story felt off kilter. Farming life was overly romanticised, described as a necessary fate, and condemned as too harsh, often in the same grand speech. The speech that got a really big response was one about people being forced out of their villages and having to take crappy jobs in the big cities to earn some money. But the film seemed adamant that people should stay on the land, which I think is a bit simplistic as country kids may want or need to pursue other careers and they should have those opportunities. Sankar was supposed to be a man of principle but didn’t hesitate for a nanosecond when offered a deal to let some thugs kill Seenu if they got him out of jail. It was OK to throw in a tasteless joke that Doberman (Brahmi) had raped 100 women. And Ali in drag is never necessary to any movie ever. And the Megastar presence really dominates so that the reliable and accomplished guys like Nasser had little opportunity to make much of their roles. Or maybe I just wasn’t paying attention to anyone but Chiru!

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There are also some genuinely funny moments. I think my favourite was  when Posani Krishna Murali’s men all pretended to pick up phone calls as he was blustering and wandered off looking busy rather than face Seenu. Or maybe when Brahmi lost his religion during a huge fight scene. I also liked the thinking behind one fight scene that progressed through corporate thugs, oiled up baldy muscle men who looked like an angry pack of Maltesers, and finally the bad hair gang.

Lest you think I am completely superficial and only looked at the shoes, there was an interesting moment regarding justice in this film world. The judge (played by Naga Babu) says that if a single person kills that is murder, but if society kills it’s a revolution. It’s a problematic statement once you get thinking about the mob and riots but it did mean someone notionally good avoided jail time, and the person they killed was bad news anyway. No biggie.

Will Khaidi No 150 make a fan of anyone who isn’t? Probably not. Does any of that matter if you are a fan? No way!

Pssst  – Make sure you stay for the end credits for some glimpses of the famous visitors on set, and Lawrence closely monitoring a dance and giving someone the stinkeye.

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8 thoughts on “Khaidi No 150

  1. Temple, let me first say, I’m amazed at your ability to get Indian cinema. The masala ones, I mean. 🙂

    About a serious issue such as farmers’ suicides given a superficial treatment – keep in mind this is a commercial potboiler. From decades, such films have picked on issues du jour to show the ‘hero’ as a do-gooder. The issue is not important; that the hero gets to flex his muscles to save the world, is. From the perspective of the people who actually suffer those issues (long back when I was a journalist), these films are their escape from reality – for a few hours. They are the hero, smashing the evil capitalist under their heels. They know, from sad experience that even if someone made a documentary on their plight, it’s not going to change – much. This allows them catharsis. For a few hours.

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    • Hey Anu

      If I had some very mild superpowers I think they would include high masala tolerance 🙂

      I know what you mean about the films showing a hero righting wrongs, and the enjoyable escapism of a good comeuppance. Telugu films in particular usually locate justice well outside of any legal framework, even acknowledging that what is right and what is just are very different sometimes. Justice is only readily accessible through the hero’s actions. But this was just a little too glib for me in some scenes, especially a mass suicide. It was all a bit too easy come easy go. But as you rightly note, this is not meant to be a primer on dispute resolution or collective bargaining!

      See it for the outfits Anu. You know you want to.

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  2. As a megafan, I promised myself not to watch this movie when they announced the start of the shooting itself and I blame ram charan, the producer of this movie for that. I can understand him doing the remake of thani oruvan, but chiru’s 150th movie was supposed to be special, not some borrowed story and script from a tamil masala movie. In contrast Balakrishna has done the movie GautamiPutra Satakarni based on 1st century emperor belonging to the satavahana dynasty for his 100th movie. Now that’s called special. It’s a huge disappointment for some of the fans like me, thanks to the coward ram charan. He even announced plans for another movie with chiru. He is probably searching the catalog of blockbuster tamil movies for safe story and script. What a cowardly idiot!
    There is supposed to be rivalry between NBK fans and Chiru fans. But I will gladly watch Gautamiputra Satakarni over this garbage.

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    • We’ll have to agree to disagree then Dileep 🙂

      One thing I did think of after reading your comment is that Khaidi No 150 is exactly the kind of mass film Chiru made at his peak, so for me it is a smart choice in terms of the genre or style for a comeback after a long absence. I think he’s making his own career decisions and I think he knows that it is hard to please everyone, and the pressure is on for it to be a big financial success or his comeback will be deemed a failure. Many of the big name Telugu directors have been a bit hit and miss with their projects so perhaps the security of a finished script and a known product in this genre was the appeal. Anyway, I saw the original and didn’t think much of it but Chiru adds his own style and improves the material.

      Each to their own 🙂

      Temple

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      • Wow you liked this middling remake more than the original which i think had one of the best mass hero in the Indian industry ..the original kaththi was far better than this film i don’t know why vinayak and chiranjeevi are always spoiling murugadoss film by adding unnecessary commercial elements…they did that in Tagore as well,completely ruining the original .maybe they added those comedies because Telugu people won’t like films which doesn’t have brammi comedy and probably they can’t watch their matinee idol movie without over dosage of commercial elements in a movie that talks about a serious issue…i felt there was no need for a heroine for kaththi and the director in this film didn’t even try to improve romantic portion of this film and all kajal has to do in this film is to just show up for dance numbers…

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      • See? It’s only a matter of time when some tamil guy show up to make this about tamil vs telugu, all because you liked a telugu hero better than their tamil hero. Blasphemy! One of the reasons why I don’t want their movies to be remade in to telugu, because I don’t want to listen to these hyper-inflated egoes. Someone tell this guy with over-inflated ego that his “best mass masala” hero sucked majorly in the tamil remake of pokiri. The same muragadoss is making a movie with mahesh babu, while no one other than tamil directors would touch the “best mass” hero with a 10 foot pole.

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