Finally, Mahesh Babu is back on the silver screen after a gap of nearly 3 years.Running after the goons and delivering the knock-out blows with his trademark glare, Mahesh Babu teams up with ace director Trivikram Srinivas (who gave him a career defining movie with Athadu in 2005) in Khaleja. The movie however disappoints and falls below the sky high expectations of all his fans who have been eagerly waiting for this movie.
Raju (Mahesh babu) is a taxi driver. Subhashini (Anushka) is the girl who brings him bad luck and causes damages to his car and his body every time he meets her. He lands in Rajasthan to get a part of the insurance amount of a guy who dies falling on his car. He again meets Subhashini (Anushka) in Rajasthan who is escaping from a guy trying to cheat her. A gang of goons try to murder Raju and take Subhashini back, but Raju thwarts their attempt. However Raju who is severely wounded falls unconscious after the fight.
When he wakes up, Raju finds himself in a village in Andhra Pradesh where all the people consider him to be the God. A confused Raju finds that the villagers are in the midst of a crisis with most of them succumbing to mysterious deaths. A group tries to shut down the medical camps made in the village but Raju stop this from happening.
Intrigued by all these, Raju investigates the matter further and discovers the truth behind it. He now takes up the responsibility of saving the village from the evil clutches of an industrialist GK (Prakash Raj). How he manages to do this leads to the climax of the movie.
The movie is all about Mahesh Babu and he occupies almost every frame in the movie. Back after a gap of 3 years, Mahesh looks great with stylish costumes but then his looks are far too urbane and stylish for the role of a taxi driver. There is an attempt to make Mahesh’s character talkative and verbose as opposed to his introvert characters he has played in his earlier movies like Athadu and Pokiri. He does an ok job but one still feels that the reserved and aloof kind of characters suit him the best.
The other actors i.e. Anushka, Prakash Raj, Shafi and Rao Ramesh do justice to their brief roles. Ali, Sunil and Brahmanandam are their usual selves in the comedy scenes. Music by Mani Sharma is average with the song ‘Om Nama Siva Rudraya’ standing out. Action scenes by Peter Hien and Ram- Lakshman are quite stylish. Cinematography by Yash Bhatt and Sunil Patel is top notch and the camera work in some of the scenes in is excellent.
The first half meanders pointlessly leaving the audience clueless about where the story is headed. The second half is better in terms of the story content but even that fails to engage the viewer for long. The movie deals with a serious theme but director Trivikram Srinivas mixes it with a lot of unnecessary situational comedy which dilutes the intensity of the movie. Most of the scenes in the movie are entertaining in terms of the humor but then they don’t build the story in any way.
Overall, director Trivikram Srinivas’ Khaleja fails to pack the punch. Keep your expectations low and watch it only if you are a Mahesh Babu fan.
By Raghu Chaitanya