PETTA: a Rajinified promise

Putting forth a fanatic as well as critique point-of-view.

Karthik Subbaraj’s Petta is the best Rajinikanth film since Sivaji: The Boss (2007), it took an absolute filmmaker-cum-fan to unleash Rajinism after a struggling decade. Karthik Subbaraj trades as an agent between past and present Rajinikanth – perfectly amalgamating his flamboyant style as well as caters to Thalaivaa. There’s an unapologetic overflow of references ranging from songs, dialogues, character names and character development which Karthik kicks as “mass”. Finally, post-Rajini Padam a fan won’t walk disappointed because Petta is a promise which Karthik Subbaraj adheres and presents in the most elegant manner.

There’s more to Kaali (Rajinikanth) than being just a hostel warden, things take an interesting turn when Kaali’s path crosses with a group of dreaded gangsters prominently Singaar Singh (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) and Jithu (Vijay Sethupathi). Unlike Kaala (2018), Kabali (2016), Lingaa (2014) or even Kochadaiyaan (2014), Petta doesn’t pretend to utilise Rajinikanth for a secondary wheel – here, the wheel is driven by Thalaivaa. Karthik Subbaraj reinvents Suresh Krissna’s Baashha (1995) by adding his traditional “twists” and a visual flair. Petta’s biggest strength is the amalgamation kind-of feel of what Rajinikanth has done in his glorious-stylish days, the stylish yore is back again.Amidst all the fanatic view, there was a constant critiquing over the over-writing and infusion of Karthik’s trademark – whys weren’t strongly answered. The twists were seen from miles ahead but the refreshing utilisation proved to be effective, but falls flat on the antagonist section. While being an ensemble with subplots providing enumerate character-development and utilisation, the complete focus on Rajini pops questions about others existence. There’s a stark visual contradiction in the two halves which leaves an impression of two-in-one films. More or less, Petta hovers upon writing distractions (segment featuring Simran and Hostel) which never lets the focus go off-Rajini. Nevertheless, Petta works on every perspective whether technical, fanatical or even cinematic – hence, swag confronts flaws and takes a front seat.

Cinematographer S. Tirru adds a visual flair by giving a distinctive zealous look, to be precise: invigorating. Captivating the coldness of a hill station posed against chilling entrée of a protagonist with dark past ensures a skilful play being a visual treat. The visual contradiction makes Petta look like two-in-one but again, it’s an impressive demarcation of past-present. Aniruddh Ravichander’s heavy metal soundtrack adds weightage only to be later acting as a roadblock, but one will definitely step out swaying on “Mass Marana”.Rajinikanth sways in his flamboyant-style with directorial command, who brings in charisma and a perfect packaging of comic-timing as well as fast dialogue delivery. Nawazuddin Siddiqui as antagonist Singaar Singh doesn’t threaten but delivers undertones of Gaitonde (Netflix’s Sacred Games) and MRS (Anil Sharma’s Genius). Vijay Sethupathi’s twisted layered character leaves with a smirk while the female characters are under-utilised, blame it on character-writing since none of the memorable actors like Trisha, Simran and Malavika Mohanan leave a mark.

There’s a referential Apoorva Raagangal (1975) scene (Rajinikanth, the newcomer opens the gate) – Karthik Subbaraj reopens the missing RajinismPetta is a promise by a fan – a tribute.


Language: Tamil
Release: 10 January, 2019
Rating: 3.5/5


Copyright ©2019 Ninad Kulkarni. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.

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