Cast: Ananya Panday, Ishaan Khatter, Jaideep Ahlawat, Satish Kaushik, Zakir Hussain
Director: Maqbool Khan
Khaali Peeli is an entertainment package with a decent dose of action, comedy and drama. Thematically, it goes back to ‘masala’ Bollywood crowd pleasers and even tries to carve a new space. The new combination of Ishaan Khatter and Ananya Panday is very promising and they keep up with the unusual and unpredictable schedule and ensure a winner.
A story that cuts through the past and present, Blackie (Ishaan) and Pooja (Ananya) fit together from early childhood. But events will not unfold as innocence would have them. Yusuf Bhai (Jaideep Ahlawat), a local criminal, forcibly separates them and returns a second time to ruin their childhood lives. Will love triumph against all odds, that’s what it tries to answer.
Khaali Peeli is definitely inspired by Bollywood cliches. But it is also trendy and breaks down in handling. Characters are nicely formed in an urban setting. Technical aspects such as cinematography, art direction, editing and music enhance this larger-than-life show and you get out of the experiential content. Performances come from a sense of understanding of the world that director Maqbool Khan had in mind, otherwise there was a chance that attention would slip in and out.
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Blackie and Pooja are both multidimensional creatures and this works wonders to keep viewers engaged. It also softens the plot, because you never know what their next move would be. Tension is built up through twists and turns. Ishaan especially keeps a good balance between subtle and slapstick. He is unrestrained in emotion and Ananya compliments him nicely in dramatic turns. Her character is restless but lively and she gives Pooja a special touch. Their actions are nuanced where necessary and otherwise unabashed. The two are confident in each other and make an interesting couple on screen.
Full marks to writers for tying up all the ends. While the movie can come across as a drag a few times, patience is required. Satish Kaushik and Zakir Hussain play police officers and are delightful additions to the ensemble. They make you smile when the stakes are raised and manage to stand out. All in all, the storyline is grounded and Khaali Peeli is sure to bring a pleasant surprise your way.