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Mahesh Khaleja

Genre: Action-Comedy (Tollywood Masala)Rating: 2/5

Evadu kodithe thimma tirigi brain block avuddho vaade Raju gaadu.’ Raju opined it’s the brain, while popular Pandu  (Pokiri) had always preferred the mind. Same thing really, you say? Well then, in context of this analogy there are no surprises with Mahesh Babu’s characterization, except one. He also played God [:O].The story by Trivikram Srinivas has all those elements you expect in a mass movie, but with a death-by-randomness first half and a quicker-than-Ferrari second half which is about a taxi driver Raju played by Mahesh Babu (yes the character's name is not Mahesh), who takes upon himself to save a village of dying residents because they have declared him shiznit. Raju acknowledges the vox populi err, the sycophancy, but keeps it honest. In a span of few days, he is able to dig out the reason for the deaths and also fights the bad guys to finally save the village. 

It always amazes me how a dude with chocolate-boy looks plays an action hero! Don’t bother, it’s rhetorical. Mahesh sure does his thing as Raju, killing 200 goons, flaunting arrogance for no apparent reason, frustrating the main villain who gives a rat's ass about authorities, and padagottifying a pretty dame by being an ass. Whatay! Mahesh lacks comic timing and loses out big-time in this department. Raju is an inconsistent mashup of an Athadu, and a less-sarcastic Jalsa - doer, both Trivikram’s creations.  A lot of his hand gestures seemed deliberate and just for kicks; his charm although, will rub off on the more sensitive fans, read girls. Anushka (as Subbu) plays a hit-or-miss character like rest of the cast, except she features tangibly in all of the 5-6 ‘music videos’, which were otherwise ignorable. She did let the boy-gang crack jokes on her thighs calling them ‘solid’ which confused me, they are sexayy indeed! Comic relief through Sunil, Bramhi Ali, and D. Subramanyam is haphazard and less-gratifying. Shafi and Rao Ramesh as villagers have stood out and deserve critical acclaim for bringing expressions of real-life eccentricities to celluloid smoothly.

Direction, Screenplay, Cinematography, Dialogues:
The complexity of ideating the comeback vehicle of a big Tollywood star is conspicuous, given the challenge of ‘maintaining his image’. As Director, Trivikram hasn’t left out any ingredient in this ‘recipe’, but the quantities are disproportionate. Trivikram, who has a flair for comedy, has tried something different – placed the onus completely on Mahesh, without relying on the regular comics, making them obsolete. If that was the whole point, Mahesh’s entry scene (the whole wham-bam first time he appears) was not capitalized upon, and is only so impressive as his bike without the headlight housing. The flimsy plot overall loses ground very soon, so the shaky plot on which all else rest, fumble badly. A bad plot could have been saved by good screenplay (also by Trivikram). Using flashback or a parallel story are good mechanisms to engage the audience, but too much focus on Mahesh spoils the flow. The first half is really slow and tries hard to garner viewer’s attention, but the screenplay does not to latch on or build upon, passing the burden to the second half, which is replete with too much detail suddenly unfolding. Many sequences are unjustified – Raju murdering scores to secure water in Rajasthan(!), how he lands back in AP from Rajasthan, etc.

Cinematography by Yash Bhatt is very mainstream. Clearly agendized to captivate mass-audiences, this movie has all elements of a Tollywood potboiler. Same rich villain (yes, a rich Prakash Raj), bimbo of a girlfriend, a big house, a sidekick,  car blastsa cocky hero killing 10 goons in one go, adey egiri egiri thanadam – all captured how a Tollywood fan would expect. The deserts are fresh visuals, although. Dialogues are Trivikram’s forte, and most of the characters seemed to get it right. The language is massy (in excess of paaradobbuthas) with some overboard snarling, but colloquial overall. Comedians don’t exactly miss the train. Eg. Hostage Raghu Babu alleviating hostage Subbaraju's fear on seeing a coconut in Mahesh’s hand, by saying – ‘Bhayapadaku, vaallu kobbarikaya ni pagalakotti bellam kalupukoni thintaaru, anthe’. Or a goon asked by Tanikella to start fighting, innocently replying ‘Chai taaguthunna saar, etc are subtle yet impressionably funny scenes.

Why 2/5:
Idey ekkuva. The Good: Performances are overbearing, yet watchable. Impossible stunts. The entertainment factor is not zero. The bad: Unaesthetic screenplay and direction. Mahesh overshadowing regular comedians. This movie is for Mahesh Babu fan clubs only.


Anonymous said...

naa moddala review

its 3.25/5

teliyakunte musukkuchora kukka.

Chakri said...

pichhi lamdi ke...WTF is 3.25?cinema choosey maatladutunnava leda frustration aa. Ooroda..... mahesh babu laanti chakkey gaadu oka hero anta. TFI debba tintundi nelanti bewars galla demands valla ne.

Sunny said...

Alright people, looks like both sides are riled up. First, thanks for the effort to read up. Second, if you have to rant please tone down your language. My own 'Telugu Panchangam' doesn't reflect well on the blog, so deleting your comment is the only way to ask one to be more civilized and be heard as well.

Anonymous Reader - Tell your friends you didn't like my review, but be sure to share the link.

Chakri - Do pass on the link to friends if you liked the review. Thanks!

Bharath said...

Hey Sandeep, me thinks "This movie is for Mahesh Babu fan clubs only" and a 2/5 rating is unjustified. I don't consider myself in his fan club but I honestly enjoyed his new make over, dialect, and diction. While I agree with you that the movie was almost a one-man show, I feel Mahesh carried the film pretty good.

One of my favorite moments from the movie being how he subtly changes his dialogue delivery to bring about comic timing "anteyy..10000 lo rounds ekkuva untayi kadandi" :))", and a fight scene when someone asks his name.."Alluri Seetaramaraju..freedom fighter..prathi edavaki naa peru thone problemaaa" and how he nicely differentiated it from sarcasm..can't remember the dialogue but goes sumthing like "ippuduuuu.." and ends at "Adannamata.." Mani sharma probably deserves a line or two in the review? I personally liked 4 of the six songs very much..both the audio and visualization..Mahesh looks a better dancer than he ever did and Kudos for the effort in "Makatika maya" and "Taxi" songs.

Murdering scores of people for water was pretty lame..although how he lands back in AP from Rajasthan scene was honestly handled by the director when Raju asks Subbu "eh amma, rajasthan nundi AP varaku madhyalo hospitalley dorakaledaa?".

Sensitive point like "goddifying" a human is a very tough task to direct and immediately attracts critics. But it is very well balanced in this movie. What an irony that radical superstitious societies like that of "Bali" coexist with the society that we are more familiar with..! I think Trivikram handled the logical balance very well, and deserves credit for being brave enough to take up such a storyline.

Shafi and Rao Ramesh - i thought were brilliant, as well! especially how Shafi's sanskrit dialogues build up to the song "sadaa sivaa.."..

Overall, the movie is very well handled and Tivikram-Mahesh combo might not be as successful as they were in Athadu but did a more than fine job!

Sunny said...

Wow Bharath, that's some detailed response! Interesting to read your views. Not sure if I gave an impression that Mahesh did a bad job. I think as an actor he has proved himself in certain areas already, but this was more like a litmus test if he could do more - comedy, I mean. Of course there are scenes where he has done well, but in comparison to actors in Trivikram's earlier works, he is a contrast. If an actor doesn't live up to our expectations, its not his fault alone.

Personally I think only a couple of songs have caught on popularly. Not too sure the full album is a hit. I think the problem is the time lapse between the album release and the movie release. Sure, music deserves a mention but in the larger scheme of things it seems like a weak link, a crutch ignoring which, helps reduce ink space (which is a popular complaint against my blog!)

Goddifying a human sure is a sensitive subject. I did not mean to demean the idea, if that's how it comes across. But the idea is to be convincing enough when a person is portrayed as larger-than-life. Supporting characters singing eulogies and using superlative adjectives, is a small part of the story, but for something to be fathomable, it has to linger on folks' minds for a while. All corroborating 'events' occur in second half. Like I said - too much too quick. We have seen such Telugu movies earlier, which have been pulled off really well. Eg. Kondaveeti Donga. Khaleja is just a case of script gone haywire.

These are just my perspectives though.Nice to read your views, just wanted to add mine as well. Thanks for the feedback!

Aravind said...

Hey sandeep,

I do agree with the rating for movie... Surely the script wud have looked gr8 on paper bt i feel somehwere Trivikram got lost of the track as his trademark(quintessential sarcasm) n mood of the storyline din go well...

One comforting factor is mahesh came out of his repetitive characterization of being sober... Only if character was well sketchd, last song being cut... n added a more of back story in terms of village problems n Mahesh's finding the strange occurences at village... things wud have been interesting...

The stunts were a big drawbck... Unlike pokiri n athadu where it was believable...

For once i wanna c Mahesh acting in a REAL character where he can perform aplomb

Sunny said...

Thanks Aravind! Yes the script really was loose, the more I think about it, more disconnects I see! If you watch NNN or Manmadhudu, the comedians (Bramhanandam, Dharamavaram, Sunil, etc) play chracters who have a self-image of being equal to the hero, or atleast the hero is not a 'hero' and thus sarcastic jokes, etc comes from all quarters and also directed towards everyone else; making such moments enjoyable for a common man. In Khaleja, the comedians' roles were too short for any of that.

Stunts, don't even get me started on that! What is Peter Hein really upto?!! I hope he realizes his stuff is going overboard. He seriously needs to think real and take tips from the 90s action sequences -- unbelievable, yet achievable! Either that, or just use really, really good VFX.

MB just stepped on the wrong stuff, hope 'Dookudu' does him some good! Trivikram, his next apparently is a PK starrer (Khushiga, a remake of Love Aaj Kal), and funnily enough I can't think of anyone better for this job!

Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment Aravind! Keep coming back!!

aravind said...

hey sandeep!!

No thanks n all bro... BTW still playing guitar n alll???
Hpoefully... MB does sm real gud stuff in his next...As far as PK starrer the remake... I seriously doubt hw PK is gonna pull off that character... Its gnna b entirely Trivikram's show....:)

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