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‘Khaali Peeli’ Movie Review: Ananya Panday and Ishaan Khatter starrer is a Khaali Peeli waste of time
Ali Abbas Zafar, Himanshu Mehra
Ishaan Khatter, Ananya Pandey, Jaideep Ahlawat, Zakir Hussain, Swanand Kirkire, Satish Kaushik, Annup Sonii
Bollywood Bubble Rating
Making a film which is an ode to the cinema you grew up watching is a very tricky thing to handle, you need the speed and the skill to manoeuvre your way through the length of the film in order to hold the audience’s attention to the details and the references that you want them to see.
See what I did there? Just one punctuation mark and it’d still hold your attention till the end of the sentence. That’s what a decent if not good expression of a thought looks like. Ishaan Khatter and Ananya Panday starrer ‘Khaali Peeli’ may have the pace by its side but it completely lacks the skill of good storytelling that can grab your attention.
The film opens with a highly dramatized scene of the protagonist Vijay (Ishaan Khatter) walking out of a jail in slow motion shots when he is intercepted by his love interest Pooja (Ananya Panday). From here we jump back in time to Vijay’s childhood where we learn his backstory before leaping to where it all started. The opening sequences give the feel of GTA with all those aerial shots, Vijay running around the city, through train coaches, hiding in the corners, almost murdering someone, almost getting busted and hijacking the towing van. ‘Khaali Peeli’ tells a run of the mill story of Vijay, a cabbie and his passenger Pooja (Ananya Panday) who happens to be his long lost childhood love and also happens to be a runaway bride trying escape from the clutches of a pimp Yusuf (played by Jaideep Ahlawat). The two set off to leave Mumbai in search of a better life away from their hardships. What binds them together is a bag of money over which they strike a deal to serve their individual purposes.
The film, full of time jumps spends almost all of its entirety in Chase sequences; police chasing Vijay in his childhood, Vijay’s fellow cabbies chasing him during his adulthood, Yusuf’s henchmen chasing Pooja, police chasing Vijay & Pooja and, towards the end Vijay chasing Yusuf and Pooja. See, I told you GTA! It felt like director Maqbool Khan was trying to bring together the best of both worlds of Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction time jumps) and Anurag Kashyap (the chase sequences) only to fail spectacularly. Maqbool Khan’s direction is just a margin ahead of being tagged as a juvenile. Picture this, at one point the leads try to hide from the henchmen and the police in a mela. And while doing so, the best place they could come up with to hide is dancing with the artists, AT THE CENTER STAGE. IN FRONT OF A MASSIVE AUDIENCE. I mean come on! But, maybe, just maybe, like Tarantino and Kashyap, perhaps Maqbool wanted to incorporate the elements of Kanti Shah too. Hence, the paralysed logic.
Apart from Ishaan, Ananya and Jaideep, the film also stars Zakir Hussain, Swanand Kirkire, Satish Kaushik and Annup Sonii. I was massively disappointed when Annup Sonii didn’t say, “saavdhan rahiye, satark rahiye” even for once in the film, even while bidding adieu to his young son as the latter chooses the path of petty crimes. Nevertheless, except for the leads, everyone has played their parts well. Jaideep takes the cake, this guy can pull off any character. Damn, he’s such a fluid actor, watching him on screen is so satisfying and so fulfilling even in a terrible void in the cinematic continuum that “Khaali Peeli” is.
Film’s production design and art direction is hyper-real and too flashy and looks very disconnected from its characters. The editing is good at certain places but, the cinematography fails to impress. Aerial shots have been generously used throughout the course of the film, perhaps they were trying to achieve the depth that the film’s writing lacked. However, DI is something I can still give it to. Vishal and Shekhar and Sanchit Balhara disappoint massively with their music too. Exactly, a year ago I saw Hrithik Roshan and Tiger Shroff starrer, ‘War’ and loved the music and the background score but, here they too nose dive below the acceptable levels of mediocrity.
‘Khaali Peeli’ doesn’t do justice as a love letter to the mainstream cinema of the 70s. This film is not from the eyes of a film geek but a filmy guy, who misses the point by miles, the distance of which is exactly equal to the distance covered by all the chase sequences put together in this film.
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