The boss is back. That’s the tagline of Chiranjeevi’s comeback movie after nearly a decade’s hiatus. But is he really? The megastar of Tollywood has chosen a remake of the Tamil hit Kaththi for his much-touted and much-anticipated re-entry into the industry, which he had left to make a foray into politics, riding on the success of his back-to-back hits Indra and Stalin, when he floated a new party, Praja Rajyam. While everyone thought he would do wonders in the field, he proved wanting at the hustings and had to wind up his outfit and merge it with Congress. To his misfortune that didn’t help either.
That misfortune seems to haunt him with Khaidi No 150 (KN 150), eponymously named to mark his 150th film. Though the Tamil original, starring Vijay, proved a big hit, the ageing Telugu hero’s version lacks the X factor that Chiranjeevi’s movies are known for. The controversial statements of his brother Nagababu against noted writer Yandamuri Virendranath and filmmaker Ram Gopal Verma on the eve of the release were perhaps aimed at generating interest in the film.
It’s hard to believe that VV Vinayak, who made Stalin, directed KN 150. Though first-day collections have reportedly surpassed that of Bahubali, it remains to be seen if it will sustain interest through the coming days or weeks.
The film, which deals with the theme of the hero — in a double role — taking on the corporate world on behalf of poor farmers, leaves much to be desired.
The first half is spent establishing the role of a small-time cheat who escapes from jail to realise he (Kathi Seenu) has a lookalike (Shankar), with whom he trades places. Shankar has no clue as to why he is sent to cool his heels in prison. Kathi abandons his plans to escape to Bangkok after meeting Lakshmi (Kajal Agarwal) and falling head-over-heels in love with her.
Later he is predictably pitted against the bad man Agarwal (Tarun Arora), who had been scheming to usurp the villagers’ farmlands to set up a cola plant, leading to a climax where the industrialist is brought to justice.
Chiranjeevi who has made several meaningful movies, some of which have earned him awards, makes a dismal attempt with such a good theme. His voice sounds toned down. Where are those powerful dialogues? There’s no newness in his dances. They all appear recycled from his previous films and even his son Ram Charan’s cameo appearance in one of the songs does little to help.
The irony is Agarwal, who played the leading lady in Ram Charan’s debut film, Magadheera, is teamed up with the senior hero here. Perhaps he should have chosen a more mature looking Ramya Krishnan or even Anushka Shetty to make a perfect pair like Venkatesh or Nagarjuna do in their movies to make for a convincing couple.
Agarwal appears more as a mannequin to do a few song-dance sequences.
Devi Sri Prasad’s music is good in a few songs, especially with risque lyrics Ammadu Let’s Do Kummudu, the item number Rathalu Rathalu and Sanna Jajila Kuttesindiro.
Seasoned comedians Ali, Brahmanandam and Raghubabu strive to offer a few lighter moments. But it is an out-and-out Chiranjeevi film. Watch it if you are a diehard fan of the mega star. As for me, I am heading to the video library to grab a DVD of Kaththi. Hope it has English subtitles.
Film: Khaidi No 150
Run Time: 147 mins
Director: VV Vinayak
Cast: Chiranjeevi, Kajal Agarwal, Tarun Arora, Brahmanandam
Stars: 2 out of 5