Vijay, aka Blackie (Ishan Khatter), is a seasoned offender since childhood. While the roguish kid grows into an even unruly adult, life, chaos and love strike. All at once. Will his love for Pooja (Ananya Panday), his estranged childhood sweetheart, change it all? Watch it while they venture on a ride of their lives in Blackie’s iconic ‘kaali peeli’ (taxi) 6969.
It’s 2020. But, while you watch the Ishaan Khatter-Ananya Panday starrer Khaali Peeli you have got to think like it’s the 70s. And also develop the patience to endure mindless drama for an hour and 53 minutes. Because, there’s no other way you’d be able make sense of an action-comedy that falls flat on many fronts.
The movie starts off by introducing you to Blackie, aka Vijay (Khatter), a Mumbai taxi driver who’s perpetually on the run right from childhood. His destiny collides with Pooja (Panday) who’s the typical (Bollywood) runaway bride — lugging a bag brimming with stashes of cash, jewellery and a gun. She does the daredevil’s act by risking it all and breaking away from the shackles just hours before her pimp Yusuf (Ahlawat) almost sells her off to paedophile businessman who’s had his eyes on her long before she turned 18. Well, if that’s not creepy enough. Here’s something else: He (apparently) saves his virginity up until late 50s for her.
But, with a little bit of courage and luck on her side, she jumps onto Blackie’s taxi and things are never the same again. For the better or worse, they venture out on a road trip in Blackie’s ‘kaali peeli’ — the iconic Mumbai black and yellow taxi — to nowhere, to escape the hell they are individually embroiled in. This sets the tone of the rest of the movie.
Add to the chaos, and they bump into Police office Tawde who smells foul play and demands a co-ride in Blackie’s kaali peeli to get more clarity on the unlikely “married couple”. But there’s more to this chance encounter. Both, Blackie and Pooja’s lives have been intertwined with each other long before they grew up and met in unlikely circumstances and fell in love.
Just when the movie catches up pace, a song gets thrown in out of nowhere. The viewer is now transported to a mela by the roadside, which becomes Blackie and Pooja’s last resort to hide. A racy track gets squeezed in, serving as a temporary distraction for the leads as well as the audience — from the drama that one can make little sense of. The climax comes in the form of a good Samaritan — a top cop Tawde (Zakir Hussain) who happens to be a game-changer and saves the young couple in the last moment.
Throw in some predictable drama, and even predictable dialogues peppered with Mumbai lingo that’s preceded by accidental stabbing, the stereotypical cop chase, an ultimate face-off with goons and a steamy liplock towards the end (sorry about the spoiler). While Blackie at one juncture is tempted to trade Pooja for a lucrative sum, things don’t go as planned. Clue: The heart wants what it wants.
Blackie is groomed to be the stereotypical Bollywood hero — he can sing, dance, lure the damsel in distress, and flaunt meaty biceps. The characters in the backdrop (Ahlawat, and his sidekicks) have potential, but are reduced to doing the minimum — just what’s expected out of the script that demands them to essay the role of archaic villains who’re running a business of flesh trade. Indeed, a lot has been done to keep the meter ticking. Yet, nothing quite does the trick. While inconsistency is the only constant, the movie is still not terrible in its entirety. Khaali Peeli is largely passable amid a pandemic. Yet, has nothing new (or worthwhile) to offer.
Title: Khaali Peeli
Cast: Ananya Panday, Ishaan Khatter, Jaideep Ahlawat, Swanand Kirkire
Director: Maqbool Khan