Watching Khadgam is like watching a nail biting India-Pak one day international. And while India flunks in most one-days, Khadgam emerges a winner.
The film takes a break from the routine by calling its intermission as AARAM in tricolour, punning over AllAh and Ram. That's Khadgam for you - with a big scoop of patriotism, a sprinkling of communal fundas and Pak-bashing as the topping! The topping, as usual, is the best part of this sundae. Made in typical Krishna Vamsi style, the movie is audacious and intense, yet retains the edutainment element throughout. This one easily falls into the Lagaan and Roja genre.
There is a host of stars, but it's Prakash Raj as Amjad who really shines. Though Amjad is a devout Muslim, he does not hesitate in bashing up his kin who celebrate when India loses a cricket match or raise anti-India slogans. But sadly he is often treated like an outsider (read from Pak) because of his community. His real test comes when he has to choose between India and his ISI-mercenary brother.
Things become tougher for him when his friend ACP Radha Krishna (Srikanth) suspects him to be an ISI agent. Radha Krishna has lost his fiancée Swati (Sonali Bendre) to Azhar, Amjad's brother and a Pak terrorist. Radha hates Pakistan in general and Muslims in particular. And in order to avenge her death and restore the nation's honour, he vows to kill Azhar. Things become awkward when both the friends come to know the truth. And Amjad takes the opportunity to prove he is a real Indian by killing his own brother.
Khadgam plays the Devil's advocate between India and Pakistan, Hindus and Muslims. It tries to suss out answers to awkward but pertinent questions like: why do some Muslims sympathize with Pakistan? How Indian are they? Why don't they return to Pak or other Islamic countries? The verbal battle between Prakash Raj and Srikanth that tackles these questions is positively the most arousing scene of the movie.
And the most ridiculous one is when Sonali gets killed in a terrorist shootout. When Radha gets a call about the whereabouts of a most-wanted terrorist, he rushes to the spot accompanied by Swati, a journalist by profession. Now instead of watching the proceedings and taking down notes, she goes about with a stupid digicam, ostensibly trying to catch the 'real action' for whatever mag she works for. And a terrorist grabs her and kills her. You sympathize with her for her IQ level rather than for her gruesome death.
Of the four numbers, the one with the title music (with a classical raga as its base) is catchy. Nuvvu Nuvvu is classy, too, both for its music and the manner of its handling.
Srikanth stages a comeback of sorts with his rather intense and well-portrayed role. Needless to say, Prakash Raj is the 'hero' of the movie. Ravi Teja, as a struggling movie artiste, has a substantial role, but nothing connected to the story. His comic timing is rather neat. Sonali Bendre has one song and two scenes, and Kim Sharma has two songs and one scene.
Krishna Vamsi certainly deserves three cheers - not just for making an offbeat movie but also for studiously avoiding patriotic jing bang to convey his message. He minces no words when it comes to Pak-bashing, and that definitely is bold. The film is for all those who love India or hate Pak. Isn't that a big audience now?