Petta - Film Review
The first dialogue Superstar Rajinikanth utters in Petta is “Naan Veezhven enduru ninaithayo” after bludgeoning a few bad guys in his inimitable style. One cannot but remember the golden words of Neelambari “Vayasanalum un stylum azhagum innum pogale” - except that she actually said that 20 years back when Thalaivar was 49 years young. From this scene which is 4 minutes after the film reels on till the last scene - where Thalaivar ends with a pistol shot, its Superstar galore for over 150 minutes. Every fan who came out after watching the film has only one thing to say about Director Karthik Subburaj - “Only someone who has consumed Rajinikanth in every vein, muscle, blood and brain can create such a screenplay” - so true. KS has literally “Rajinified” the viewers with such a strong and gripping storyline which is a potpourri of Superstar’s antics for 40 years which most of his ardent fans have enjoyed every bit and byte, literally.
Kaali joins a convent in a hill station as a hostel warden for reasons best known to him, for the Principal & Professors are confused why someone would aspire this job with the recommendation of a Minister! While he endears the juniors and sophomores, threatens the antics and existence of the senior students, things slowly take a turn for the better. Exactly one hour from the movie’s beginning (yes, I timed it), it is revealed why Kaali is here. Post interval, the film dates behind 18 years where Kaali’s flashback in South Tamil Nadu (with a very Madurai slang by most of the cast) is shown with violent clashes which leaves behind most of Kaali alias Petta Velan’s family dead. By now, the motive of Kaali is clear. The last 45 minutes is all about how Petta finishes his enemies, one after the other. His moves are so meticulous that he concludes it with a short story - what Superstar says in many of his public outings - that of how Lord Rama killed the Monkey King Vaali in hiding, justifying why sometimes the “means, however they are, are alright as long as the motive is good”.
We see three shades of Rajinikanth in this film - be it the happy-go lucky hostel warden with his sarcasm personified from reel 1 where he stamps on the table to get his Appointment Letter to managing the students atrocities or the romantic at heart who flirts around with Pranic Healer Mangalam (played by Simran) or the street fight with local goondas with a sly reference to his own dialogues from Rajadhi Raja; then we see Petta Velan which is akin to watching the Superstar of yore - of the 80s and 90s - THE ANGRY YOUNG MAN types with swear words and short fights. And then we see Petta chasing the baddies all over UP with a strategy similar to that of Chanakya - astute yet devastating to the enemies. In all three, he has done justice and simply played his part as a Director’s Actor. All crew members including Simran, Trisha, Vijay Sethupathi, Sasikumar, Nawazuddin Siddique, Bobby Simha and yesteryear Director "Mahendran" (who ironically directed Mullum Malarum whose primary character was Kaali) among others have played what is expected of them. KS has even offered his father Gajaraja a small role but one that gets a thunderous response when Kaali refers to him as a friend in need for a Tamilan somewhere in the world. Anirudh steals the thunder with his remarkable BGMs and foot tapping numbers. Bonus points to the stylist to showcase our Thalaivar look so young & stylish - Naturally, as Kaali says in the movie. Overall, this is a “buffet”-type feast for fans who went in looking for a simple a la carte menu of Idli or Dosa, at the max a mini-meal. No one is complaining. And critics are watching more than once to find faults. :-)