A gang of college friends, a prank, a murder and several suspects… Sounds like a perfect crime thriller. But how many times did such a film actually manage to become a blockbuster? Bollywood’s tryst with suspense stories isn’t new, but rarely do we have movies that are convincingly thrilling, leaving us on the edge of our seats. Luckily, we have a film like Khiladi, which even after 26 years, thrills and scares us to the hilt. The crime movie starring Akshay Kumar, Deepak Tijori, Ayesha Jhulka, Anant Mahadevan and Johnny Lever leaves our hearts racing even if watched on television today.
With an intriguing script, Khiladi, which released today in 1992, is also one of director duo Abbas-Mustan’s best films to date. The way they weave murder into romance, some great music into chilling suspense is noteworthy.
As Khiladi completes 26 years today, we list down reasons why this super hit of the 90s will remain one of the best Bollywood crime thrillers.
1. Khiladi Kumar
Akshay had done a film or two prior to this. But it was Khiladi that gave him fame. Today, he is better called the ‘Khiladi Kumar’, a tag he has been happily carrying for over two decades now. It was this film that made Akshay an overnight star and the Khiladi of Bollywood. He did what no hero was doing at that time – action, dance, romance, comedy, tragedy… Akshay was a complete package here.
2. Anna and others
Special mention to Anna Pillai aka Johnny Lever who was both a suspect and full of suspicion at various points. Can we forget the way he calls for sympathy for his “chota chota bachcha”? The placement of his character in this otherwise tense film was spot on. I call Anna one of the most underrated characters in Bollywood.
Then, we also had Deepak Tijori as his close buddy who couldn’t hold back his fear at the sight of a murder and so on. Khiladi was Ayesha Jhulka’s claim to fame too. She might have only featured in a handful of films, but this one is surely gold in her filmography.
3. The murder
A story which begins on a college campus with some boy-girl rivalry smoothly drifts into a shocking murder mystery. A very gripping screenplay and some amazing performances made Khiladi one of the best in its genre. While everyone becomes a suspect at one point or the other, the final revelation was indeed something nobody expected. In fact, its closure was convincing too, a rarity as most of the thrillers end up with a predictable climax.
4. Songs for every season
Khiladi also had a great album, thanks to Jatin-Lalit. From college romantic tracks like “Khud Ko Kya Samajhti Hai” to melancholy and tragedy in “Wada Raha Sanam”, it was all woven in one. Its music album was Abhijeet’s one-man show.
5. The genre of ‘Khiladi’
It was just the start of several Khiladi films that came about later, cementing Akshay’s position in Bollywood – Main Khiladi Tu Anari, Sabse Bada Khiladi, Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi, Mr & Mrs Khiladi, International Khiladi, Khiladi 420 and Khiladi 786. We can surely call ‘Khiladi’ a genre in Bollywood now!