Petta movie cast: Rajinikanth, Vijay Sethupathi, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sasikumar, Simran, Bobby Simha, Sanath, Trisha, Megha Akash, Malavika Mohanan
Petta movie director: Karthik Subbaraj
Petta movie rating: 3/5
At the audio launch of Petta, Karthik Subbaraj had said this film was made with a lot of love by fans of Rajinikanth and that is true in every sense of the word. Petta is a celebration of the man, the Superstar — for whatever he is. The director has taken us back to the ‘90s Rajinikanth that we sorely missed for a long time. Most of the scenes, gestures, dialogues and songs remind us of his blockbuster films including Aboorva Ragangal, Baashha, Annamalai, Chandramukhi and so on.
Even the names of the characters are inspired by the actor’s previous films. Rajinikanth is named Kaali (a hostel warden) in Petta. He was called ‘Kaali’ in J Mahendran’s Mullum Malarum, which turned out to be a milestone in Rajinikanth’s career. It was, in fact, considered a ‘revolutionary film’. Remember? Rajinikanth had a Muslim friend in Baashha and his name was Anwar. Similarly, in Petta, Kaali aka Petta Velan also has a one, Malik (Sasikumar). What is more interesting is Sasikumar’s son is named Anwar (Sanath). Trisha plays Saro, and it is the name of yesteryear actor Madhavi’s role in Thillu Mullu.
Petta works like a dose of nostalgia. After many years, you see Y Gee Mahendra (once a regular in Rajinikanth films) again teaming up with the actor (though they have no scenes together), besides Chinni Jayanth and director J Mahendran. I wish there were combination scenes for each of them with the Superstar.
We are introduced to Kaali, who tackles college politics and ragging. The first half of Petta is a thorough treat, (though it takes time to warm up in the beginning) and you see a jubilant Rajinikanth who dances, laughs, smiles and what not? Karthik Subbaraj has crafted every shot as a die-hard fan of Rajinikanth. You can’t help but smile when Megha Akash says, “Paakradhukku chinnapayyan maadhiri style-a irukeenga. (You look stylish like a young man), and Rajinikanth says, “Style-a irukkena? Naturally!” He does contribute some magic that is hard to explain. All the familiar swirling of the sunglasses, flipping cigarettes — every quirk of Rajinikanth has been retained. But you wouldn’t have expected Rajinikanth to say, “Cigarette udambukku nalladhu illa. En anubavathula solren.” (Smoking isn’t good for your health, and I’m speaking from my experience).
What is important is that the filmmaker has written a screenplay that does justice to the Superstar’s stature (which wasn’t the case with Kabali and Kaala), while catering to his loyal fan base. Wait for that shot where Kaali says, “veezhvenendru ninaithayo?” (words of Subramania Bharati). In swift action and enjoyable not-so-lengthy comedy scenes, the Superstar shines bright, transporting you to the time when he entertained filmgoers of previous generations with clean humour films.
Petta promises loads of action and fun-filled moments that any ardent fan of the Superstar could ask for. The storyline revolves around the life of a hostel warden, who has an unforgettable past, and how he takes revenge on those involved in killing his family. Rajinikanth is, undoubtedly, back to form with his inimitable style, swag and mannerisms. Only he can pull off a hostel warden that way.
In the second half, you are shown a flashback of Kaali’s life. You get to know who is Singaar Singh (a fantastic Nawazuddin Siddiqui) and Jithu (a terrific Vijay Sethupathi). In what way they are related to each other. In a Superstar film, it’s hard to root for anyone except him, but Vijay Sethupathi does manage to grab your attention. However, the plot drags quite a bit, and the problem is because Karthik Subbaraj hasn’t been a director here, but more of a Rajinikanth fan. Personally, Petta works for me because I didn’t see Rajinikanth dance with either much younger actors — Simran or Trisha. Of course, there was a sparkling chemistry between Rajinikanth and Simran — though she vanishes quickly than I expected. Both Trisha and Simran have little to do in this film, and so does Megha Akash. I would have loved to see more of Nawazuddin Siddiqui, whose role is a little underwritten.
Petta isn’t a Kabali or a Kaala, but, Rajinikanth does mouth certain dialogues, which reflect his current situation in politics. He sends coded messages to not just the opponents but also the electorate — in the form of dialogues and usual song lyrics, which has been there in the filmo-political set-up for ages. The film has references like ‘Rajathanthiram’ (political acumen), ‘Pudhusa varavana thorathardhu ingerndhu aaramikkardhu dhaane?’ (The trend of shooing the newcomers away), Maathanum… Onnonna maathanum. (We need a change. I’ll change things one by one). But he again confuses you by singing, “Raman aandaalum Ravanan aandaalum enakoru kavalai illa” (I don’t care; anyone can rule this place) at the end.
Also, don’t miss this scene where Rajinikanth tells Vijay Sethupathi, “Oru Kadha sollatuma?” (I’ll tell you a story) — that reminds you of Vijay’s dialogue in Vikram Vedha.
Credit goes to the top-notch cinematography work by Tirru, who has shouldered his responsibilities well. Anirudh Ravichander’s apt background score and music also help Petta which has all the must-haves of a Rajinikanth film. The Superstar proves he is a winner yet again.