Petta movie cast: Rajinikanth, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Vijay Sethupathi, Simran, Trisha, M Sasikumar
Petta movie director: Karthik Subbaraj
Petta movie rating: 2 stars
A near-empty theater is no way to watch a Rajinikanth film. It needs devotees dancing in the aisles. It needs the rafters ringing. Perhaps the hooting and clapping and cheering is still reserved for his films in Tamil: what I’ve just finished watching is the Hindi-dubbed version of Petta.
But I have to say I enjoyed this one much more than the dreary 2.0. Here, he’s been directed by Karthik Subbaraj, who is amongst the handful of young directors busy smartening up Tamil cinema in the last five or six years. I’m using ‘directed’ loosely, because Rajini, and all the versions of Rajini which induce mad fervour, needs to be paid obeisance to before the actual movie kicks in.
First half, Rajini rolls through roles he’s played before: Rough And Tough Saviour, Smart Middle-Aged Softie, Faithful Family Man. Second half, he gets competition in the shape of Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Vijay Sethupathi. Or, let’s just say, the other two try. But don’t quite match up to the way the superstar is allowed to command the screen.
The film is long, at 172 minutes. It zig zags between Ooty and Varanasi and picturesque Bihar coal-mines: that last setting and a scene towards the end is a hat-tip to Gangs Of Wasseypur (Anurag Kashyap gets a mention in the credits). The plot is stretched and convoluted, starting from a college hostel over-run by goons (all of whom get sorted by Thalaiva) and meandering over to a mansion in which chief baddie Singaar Singh (Siddiqui) lives, with his sons and henchmen (all of whom get, that’s right, sorted by Thalaiva).
Both Siddiqui and the very watchable Sethupathi, who has been growing with each film, end up giving away to the one and only Rajini. Which proves, if proof were indeed needed, that even the new gen directors in Chennai are awe-struck fanboys first, and in-charge-of-the-story later.
Subbaraj’s horror-flick Pizza was good fun. I’m not a fan of his JIgarthanda, and his serio-techno-environmental disaster Mercury was more miss that hit. But he has a sense of style, which breaks through only occasionally in Petta. For that Rajini Sarr will have to submit a little more to the script, and a last little twist in the long drawn-out climax holds out hope.