Film: 'Mahesh Khaleeja'; Writer-Director: Trivikram Sreenivas; Cast: Mahesh Babu, Anushka, Prakash Raj, Brahmanandam, Sunil, Ali and Dharmavarapu Subramanyam; Music: Mani Sharma; Rating: **1/2
Mahesh Babu's new film 'Mahesh Khaleeja', which releases after a three-year gap, hasn't really lived up to the huge expectations built around it. But Mahesh Babu has given a splendid performance and his screen presence is terrific.
Everything looks perfect when Mahesh Babu is around though the script and narration could have been much better. For those who expected another film like 'Okkudu' or 'Athadu', 'Mahesh Khaleeja' is certainly a let-down.
The film, however, has its positive points apart from, of course, Mahesh Babu's perormance. The cinematography is mind-blowing and the comedy has a classic touch.
Director Trivikram Sreenivas, who has always been a great script and dialogue writer, fails to excel in his core strength this time. What we see on screen is just a couple of hilarious dialogues and some funny situations, but the film lacks the punch seen in Mahesh Babu's previous film 'Athadu', which was also directed by Sreenivas.
In all his hugely successful films like 'Pokiri', 'Athadu' and 'Okkudu', Mahesh always had a few dialogues that had a lot of force and punch. But here Sreenivas has tried to experiment and has given Mahesh too many dialogues and they fail to make an impact.
The first half of the film is dull. It does pick up pace in the second half but the narration is inconsistent and tedious. The climax is little better. The audience may come back feeling that something was surely amiss somewhere.
In the film, Seetha Ramaraju is a jovial cab driver, who unwittingly gets mixed up in a twin murder. He has to go to Rajasthan to claim compensation for his battered vehicle where he faces many surprising incidents.
He also meets Subhashini, whom he had met earlier in Hyderabad. And Raju now feels that Subhashini has brought him ill luck whenever he has met her.
While coming back, he goes to a village which is facing misery and people are awaiting a messiah who can change their life for the better. The villagers believe that Raju is their messiah and treat him so. A confused Raju later finds out that the misery of the villagers is linked to the two murders he witnessed in Hyderabad.
The story that unfolds is how Raju helps the villagers and frees the mining-rich village from being exploited by greedy crooks.
Mahesh carries off his role with elan and looks superb too. Anushka looks pretty but doesn't share a good on-screen chemistry with Mahesh. Prakash Raj seems to be repetitive as a villain. Brahmanandam, Sunil and Ali act well, but they don't have too much of space in the film.
Mani Sharma's music is good and the film is visually slick and stronger. Peter Heynes' fight choreography stands out in the film.
'Mahesh Khaleeja' is worth a watch for Mahesh's strong screen presence and charisma. It is otherwise just an above average venture.