Khaali Peeli

Ananya Panday, Ishaan Khatter, Jaideep Ahlawat, Swanand Kirkire.
Streaming on Zeeplex
Maqbool Khan

Do you remember anything of the 70s masala film? Director Maqbool Khan and Abbas Ali Zafar have tried to recreate that with their film Khaali Peeli. What’s supposed to be ode to the birth of Vijay aka the angry young man aka Amitabh Bachchan, begins with Vijay better known as Blackie (Ishaan Khatter) coming out of the jail. Shrugging the shirt over, he does the typical 70s introduction walk. Setting the theme for the film with that first scene itself. On the other hand, there is Pooja (Ananya Pandey) who hijacks a taxi in trying to make an escape from a brothel.

It is then that Maqbool Khan decides to give us a back story on Vijay Chohan. Even as a child, he was an expert in duping people. His insipid fatBlackie hardly control him. Right when Vijay is about to get arrested for his frauds, he runs off to Mumbai and starts working with Yusuf Bhai (Jaideep Ahlawat) his first legit job is that of a ticket-blackie, thus Vijay turns into Blackie. 

Yusuf Bhai has his fingers in many pies, one of which is flesh trade which is how Pooja comes into the neighbourhood. Blackie and Pooja soon hit it off, but their childhood romance gets thwarted when a wealthy business man decides to have Pooja for himself. 

If the aforementioned synopsis sounds a mix of Agneepath and Sadak, well the screenplay will leave you too confused to bother which one it is. The fact is that tagging a film as a mainstream potboiler is not a license to just create whatever you want. It doesn’t create a Vijay Dinanath Chohan and so on…. The fact is that everyone in Khaali Peeli is on an individual trip to the 70s and is not bothered to check on which page the others are on at times.

It is an action-comedy with the obvious romance but the film just doesn’t build its characters enough for us to care about the fate of Blackie and Pooja by the end of the film.

Ishaan Khatter is looking like a young boy who never bathed after being stuck in a chimney, and pretends to be all grown up and strong. In almost every other frame you feel like he is about to grab a mirror and flex his biceps just to see if he is fitting in… his co-star is no better. He is far more talented than his role in this film, but does justice to what he has been given.

Ananya Pandey doesn’t know what do make out of her character. It gets tedious watching her trying to act like a feisty girl from a redlight area. What’s worse is, it is not completely her fault. Her character sketch is too confusing – here is a girl who can steal from the baddies, be thoughtful enough to change into sneakers before running off, use her wits and even her muscle, doesn’t think twice about picking up a gun and threatening people with dire consequences but is also a ‘helpless woman’ looking for support and rescue in a man! All is a bit confusing. 

What is amazing is how Jaideep Ahlawat makes the best out of this haphazardscreenplay. He is sinister and commanding in every frame we see him. 

While getting quiche back with swag is a brilliant idea, the issue is that the inspiration of the film is not adapted well. It is a pity to have this release, before the nepotism debates died because the dearth of common sense and the lack of showcase of talent of protagonists, will seem rather jarring in the face of a film like Serious Men.

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