A good film should be like a journey. You should be immersed in that world. Some characters you might love, others might be disliked, but basically you should be able relate to them. Khiladi’s director Ramesh Varma Penmetsa also seems to believe in this theory albeit partially, but instead of taking us on a journey, he takes us for a ride. Khiladi stars actors Ravi Teja (playing the role of Mohan Gandhi), Meenakshi Chaudhary (Pooja) and Dimple Hayathi (Chandini) in lead roles.
Khiladi opens with a tragic premise of Gandhi serving a prison sentence on false charges. He is accused of killing his own family members including his wife. And Pooja, who is a psychology student, ends up doing a thesis on him. These portions resemble Ravi Teja’s earlier film Shock. These scenes are dark and close to reality, at least compared to what happens later.
The plot of Khiladi is about Gandhi, who plans to steal Rs 10,000 crore of illegal money. Many people are behind the heist, and the story lies in who eventually wins this gamble by playing it smart.
Khiladi is a film that is meant only to please Ravi Teja and his fans, so it is inevitable that Ramesh goes overboard. He seems to have run out of ideas and Ravi Teja is also placing a safe bet after a series of flops. So the duo came up with a film that is a cocktail of both Shock and Kick (one of Ravi Teja’s earlier blockbuster films and is a heist movie). But this cocktail is an unappealing one. The concoction is simply unbearable and the aftertaste lasts longer.
Ramesh makes an abrupt transition midway through the film, without giving enough time to process. Added to this, the songs in between while the audience are figuring out the suspense, makes it a tedious watch.
Initially, the director attempts to deceive the audience with a story similar to Shock. But then he completely changes the trajectory by making it a story of a con artist, who is just invincible, or let’s say any average Telugu hero who seems to possess superpowers.
Once Ramesh establishes Gandhi as a con artist, he pulls guns out of nowhere at the drop of a hat. Though surrounded by armed personnel at gun-point, Gandhi manages to fight them, dodge bullets and gains the ability to sneak into anyone’s bedroom, and fool anyone—because he is a CON ARTIST, in case that wasn’t clear already.
There are few actual examples about his prowess as a con artist and mostly it is just the dialogues. At some points the film becomes beyond ridiculous. Based on the call duration of a person in Hyderabad, Gandhi is easily able to trackdown a mysterious character. The process is very simple, he finds out how many calls had been made at that particular time to that particular location and with the exact call duration. Did we say that he is a con artist?
Gandhi also has an entourage, which includes a hacker, played by Murali Sharma; a mini-skirt wearing woman, played by Anasuya (of course her only capability is to seduce men); and a fabricator played by Vennela Kishore.
At one point, Gandhi breaches the CBI’s office and accesses confidential information because they have a hacker. Didn’t we say that by just establishing someone as a con artist or hacker, Ramesh pretty much makes everything easy and possible?
Khiladi has two female leads, but neither of them have much of a role. Pooja (played by Meenakshi), though a postdoctoral fellow in psychology, gets easily fooled and her intelligence mocked by Ravi Teja. It is still convincing though, because she never seems to pay attention to her classes and instead focuses on her phone. Dimple, as Chandini, gets to show variations in her character, but more than her performance, the filmmaker seems to be interested in objectifying her.
Though Ramesh tries his best to salvage the film by turning Ravi Teja into an eccentric character in the latter part of the film, it is too late. Even the actor’s dialogues and mannerisms cannot redeem the film. The supposed funny lines fall flat.
The dubbing is also poor. The characters mouth different lines and the voice-over is different. The film also has actors Arjun Sarja and Unni Mukundan, but they too remain underutilised.
By the end of the film, as is common in a Telugu film, the hero wins the day, cheats everyone and steals the money. How? Because he is a CON ARTIST, as we said before. Honestly, there is no explanation for this.
Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Neither TNM nor any of its reviewers have any sort of business relationship with the film’s producers or any other members of its cast and crew.