I know I'm going to get mountains to shit for this piece, but someone has to say it.
India's Telugu language film industry, Tollywood, has one star who rises above all others. That star is Chiranjeevi, an unbeatable screen presence who ruled the box office and the hearts and minds of millions from the late '70s all the way through the mid 2000s. Chiranjeevi is an almost holy character among Telugu actors, a star who backed up his on-screen actions with off-screen philanthropy and civic action.
As a result of his unparalled success in Tollywood through the decades, he earned a reputation as one of the most idolized men in South India. He officially retired from filmmaking in 2007 and moved directly into politics, starting the Prajah Rajyam, a political party in Andhra Pradesh, and secured himself a seat in the state assembly. Since then his political pull may have lessened with the shifting political atmosphere in the state, but his celebrity and status never waned and his fans have been begging him to return to films ever since he left.
Well, all that begging paid off and Chiranjeevi is ready to return to the screen in Khaidi No. 150 (Prisoner Number 150). Today the film launched its first teaser, and while the social media reaction has been predictably enormous, there's not really a whole lot to get excited about in the footage.
Chiranjeevi left the film industry when films started to morph in the last decade, and his kind of film doesn't really get made much anymore. Even though the teaser for Khaidi No. 150 might seem outrageous to an outside audience, anyone who has seen a number of Telugu films over that span will no doubt have grown accustomed to, perhaps even weary of, the kind of bombastic cinema on display.
Khaidi No. 150 is directed by V.V. Vinayak, who has a fairly successful career behind him already, but he's not exactly the most creative mind in Tollywood. The teaser looks disappointingly generic, Telugu film fans should recognize that you could easily plug in any other big star (Jr. NTR, Allu Arjun, Mahesh Babu, etc.) and almost nothing would change.
Now, it is important to note that this will have almost no impact on the film's popularity or impact among film fans. Even I plan on buying my ticket for the first show available. Hell, I'm even optimisitc that the teaser is misleading and there is more to this film than we are shown here; however, I'm bracing myself.
On a brighter note, one of the keys to Chiranjeevi's lasting popularity is the fact that he was an incredible dancer, which means a lot in Telugu mainstream movies. There are no Chiru dance moves in this teaser, however, the fact that he's being choreographed by Tamil dance which Lawrence really is exciting to me. Lawrence's steps and Chiranjeevi's skills are a very appealing combination, so maybe that'll prove to be as aweome as it is in my mind.
For better or for worse, Khaidi No. 150 marks the return of a giant to the big screen, and it will be a moment worth experiencing in the cinema. The film opens worldwide on Sankranti (January 13), 2017.