‘KHAALI PEELI’ | 2 October, 2020

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Zee Studios and Offside Entertainment’s Khaali Peeli is an action love story that spans over a decade. Blackie (Ishaan Khatter) and Pooja (Ananya Panday) are childhood friends who were separated soon after their friendship had just about begun to blossom. They meet under strange circumstances after about a decade. By then, Blackie has graduated from being a black marketeer of cinema tickets to a cab driver. Pooja is on the run from her tormentors. But it is easy to win over Blackie because he is very money-minded. In other words, he can sell his soul for money. As a child, it had been his ardent desire to become like Yusuf Chikna (Jaideep Ahlawat), an underworld don under whose guidance he had learnt to use the revolver. Strangely, Blackie finds himself fighting his own mentor in the end.

The film is based on a story by Sima Agarwal and Yash Keswani. The story does not have much novelty as it is a masala film much like the films of the 1960s and 1970s. However, what stands the story in good stead is that there are a number of twists and turns, coming one after the other and thereby keeping the audience interest alive. The screenplay, also penned by the duo, is fast-paced and quite engaging. The drama keeps shifting to past time periods but because those time periods are shown to explain the background of the happenings in the present times, they are not confusing. Rather, the several flashbacks serve to put things into proper perspective and, therefore, come as explanatory and engaging interludes. Yes, the interest level of the viewers does dip at a couple of places but that’s more because the story-line is thin and often predictable. Sima Agarwal and Yash Keswani’s dialogues, with additional dialogues by Suraj Gianani, are the best part of the script. Spoken in Bambaiya Hindi, they are both, entertaining and witty. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the dialogues often enhance the impact of the drama because they are extremely catchy and enjoyable.

Ishaan Khatter lives the role of Blackie. He does a wonderful job in the acting, dancing and action departments. It is sheer delight to watch him perform on screen. His easy approach to his layered character makes him endearing to the audience. Ananya Panday is rather cute as Pooja. She acts with effortless ease and adds to the entertainment quotient of the film. Jaideep Ahlawat is effective as Yusuf Chikna. Zakir Hussain makes his presence amply felt as police inspector Tavde. Satish Kaushik, in a guest appearance, evokes laughter with his one-liners and laidback acting as police inspector Bhim Singh. Swanand Kirkire, in the role of lusty businessman Choksi Bhai, has his moments. Anup Soni, in a guest appearance, lends credence to his character as Blackie’s father. Vedant Desai (as the young Blackie) and Deshna Duggad (as young Pooja) provide excellent support with their absolutely natural performances. Suyash Tilak (as Mangesh) provides decent support. Vaishali Thakkar makes an impact as Khala. Zeeshan Nadaf (as young Mangesh), Ashish Warang (as the taxi union leader) and the others are adequate.

Maqbool Khan’s direction belies the fact that this is his debut attempt. He knows the craft and the art of story-telling. Also, credit to him for extracting good work from the cast. Music (Vishal-Shekhar) is appealing but none of the songs are chartbusters. The songs have tunes that are different from the usual ones and hence they quite stand out. Lyrics (Kumaar and Raj Shekhar) are quite nice. Song picturisations (by Bosco-Caesar, Rajit Dev and Sagar Das) are nice and youthful. Sanchit Balhara and Ankit Balhara have done a fine job of the background score. Adil Afsar’s cinematography is excellent. Parvez Shaikh’s action and stunts go well with the mood of the film; they are not over-imposing but yet ably convey the angst and the frustrations of Blackie in the climax. Production designing (by Durgaprasad Mahapatra) and art direction (by Vishal Gyanchandani) are of a good standard. Rameshwar S. Bhagat’s editing is sharp.

On the whole, Khaali Peeli lacks in novelty but manages to entertain to an extent. Performances and dialogues are its scoring points, besides the many twists and turns in the script. It will be liked mainly by the youth which also seems to be its target audience.

Released on Zeeplex and Zee5 today (2-10-’20).