Rating: 6/10 (Vintage Rajini but Weak Story)
Cast: Superstar Rajinikant, Vijay Sethupathi, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Simran, Trisha, Saskumar, Bobby Simha, Naren, Malavika Mohanan, J Mahendran, Megha Akash, Muthukumar, Sanath Reddy,
Story-Screenplay-Dialogues-Direction: Karthik Subbaraj
Producer: Kalanithi Maran
Banner: Sun Pictures
After 2.0, Superstar Rajinikant is back with his latest film in Petta. Directed by Karthik Subbaraj who is hailed as one of India's finest young directors, the action film also features Makkal Selvan Vijay Sethupathi and Bollywood actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui in crucial roles. Success has been hard to find in recent years for the Superstar. Can Petta be the film that delivers a blockbuster to get his career back on track? Let's find out in this review
Plot: Kaali (Rajinikant) joins a college in Darjeeling as the new hostel warden. A barrage of attacks on the college by various gangs happen and all of them are thwarted by Kaali. A student who is saved by Kaali sees that's there is more than meets the eyes with him and he has a past that is haunting him. Who is Kaali? Where is he from? Why is all of this happening? Watch Petta to find out
Performances: Being a Rajinikant film, it's only fitting that the Superstar is the highlight and centerpiece of the film. Rajinikant is fabulous in his role as Petta and it's tailor made. The swag, the style, the mannerisms, and laugh are all back and it's a feast for Rajini fans throughout the entire movie. The 2nd half brings out a new dimension to this character and makes the audience remember how versatile of an actor he really is and why he has garnered all the success over the years.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui is exceptional as the cowardly Singaar Singh and plays his role to perfection.
Vijay Sethupathi gets a decent role and tries to make the most of it. He is sincere and honest as always and matches Rajinis charisma in two confrontation scenes in the 2nd half.
Besides these 3 actors, every other actor in the film fails to make an impact.
The heroines are simply useless as Simran gets a role lasting no more than 10 mins and god knows why Trisha even accepted the movie in the first place as she gets all of 3 scenes and 2 lines the entire film.
Bobby Simha is brutally miscast as a college senior and he is wasted. Sasikumar is adequate and so is Malavika Mohanan. Aadukulam Naren and J Mahendran are wasted in small roles as well.
Direction: After making the classic that is Jigarthanda, Karthik Subbaraj is back and got a chance to direct his idol in Rajinikanth. The first 20 minutes are obvious as to how much of a fan Subbaraj is of the Superstar. But as in any working relationship, one must know the difference between fantasy and fanboying and creativity and well written narrative. Unfortunately in his third film, Karthik Subbaraj loses the plot here. He takes the classic trope of the Baasha format and uses it to his liking to craft Petta and therein is where the problem lies. People expect creativity from a director like Subbaraj and unfortunately he plays it to the galleries. The story has been done to death a million times and the 2nd half has serious issues of tediousness and prolonging which tests your patience. While he has utilized Rajinikant's presence to the full extent, he has not concentrated on the story which results in a disjointed narrative and boring scenes in the latter half. The only positive in the 2nd half is that a nice twist towards the climax happens the movie gets back on track but for the most part, the film has a weak story that sadly even Rajinikant's presence cannot overshadow. Overall, this is more a poor man's version of Baasha that every director seems to be giving Rajini than an out of the box Karthik Subbaraj film that we have become accustomed to watching.
Technicalities: Music and BGM by Anirudh Ravichander is fantastic. The BGM is one of the best in recent times especially for a Rajinikanth film. Cinematography by Thiru is excellent. The color patterns during the Darjeeling episodes are outstanding. The lighting patters on dark blue and black for the fight sequences at night deserves special mention. Art direction is good for the most part. Editing by Vivek Harshan is not good. The film could use a serious trimming and no need for an action film like this to be 172 minutes. Dialogues by Karthik Subbaraj are good. Fights by Peter Hein are superb. They're not over the top and they brings out the classic Rajini swag that we have become accustomed to over the years. Costumes need a special mention as Rajini has not looked this stylish in any of his previous films in recent memory. Production Values by Sun Pictures are extravagant. Each and every frame of the film is rich and vibrant and the money spent can be clearly seen throughout the film.
+ Rajini, Rajini, and Rajini
+ Fan Moments
+ Music and Background Score
+ Cinematography and Action Sequences
- 2nd half
Final Take and Analysis: The last few films of Rajinikanth have been underwhelming to say the least. Fans of the star have been frustrated by films like Kabali and Kaala which showcase PA Ranjith political ideologies and fight for Dalits and oppressed people rather than showcasing commercial elements. There was also Kochadaiyaan and 2.0 which was a visual feast but lacked commercial elements as well.
And so comes out hero, Karthik Subbaraj, a proclaimed die hard Rajini fan, who gets the golden chance to direct the star. And it's clear that the director is so enamored by Baasha, that he decides to make his own take on the classic flashback story. This right here, is Petta's biggest problem. For a director known his offbeat and out of the box creative skills, to see him conform to fans wishes and needs is disheartening to see. Not that Petta is a bad film, but you realize it could have been a much better film if it didn't have such a weak story.
The first 20 minutes into the film gives you an idea of how much of a Rajinikanth fan Subbaraj really is. Every moment is a goosebumps inducing experience for the fans. As the story progresses, you know exactly what is going to happen and besides a simple interval twist, the 1st half is bearable. In the 2nd half, the film unravels and really never puts itself back together.
Post the flashback, the mind games and chasing scenes in Uttar Pradesh test your patience and as the film becomes painfully predictable and overdrawn. The length is also a major issue. In the pre-climax there is a nice twist which comes full circle in the climax, but overall, Petta is just short of disappointing. It's a momentary ecstasy that should have lasted much longer. And despite Rajinikanth's presence, even the Superstar cannot save a weak and predictable story like this.
Overall, Petta showcases vintage Rajinikanth but suffers from a predictably weak story which is it's biggest drawback. In the process, Karthik Subbaraj forgets his own creativity and plays to the galleries which only satisfies one set of fans. Watch it only if you're a die hard fan of Rajinikanth.