Straight to the point, Rajinikanth-starrer Petta is his best film in recent times, after Endhiran (Robot) from 2010. He did five films in the last 9 years, where the directors experimented with the superstar’s image but all of them could not satisfy his diehard fans. Rajinikanth is back to old form with that style, swag and mannerisms, and he plays his age with grace. Karthik Subbaraj, a director known for his groundbreaking new age cinema, has succeeded to bring back the old Rajinikanth, the one-man entertainment troupe alive and kicking.
Subbaraj had said in many of his interviews that he was a fan boy of Rajinikanth and always wanted to present the actor as an entertainer whom the fans love. He has worked out the script in such a way that the star’s presence can be felt in each scene and also plays to the actor’s strengths. The director has coined a new word – “Rajinified” for a screenplay filled with elements which the actor’s fans love. Even fantastic actors like Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Vijay Sethupathi are put on a tight leash so that the Superstar dominates.
The story is about the hero seeking cold blooded revenge on the villain for destroying his family. It has traces of Rajinikanth’s old classics (notably Baasha). The film begins by introducing Kaali (Rajinikanth) as a warden to a college in a hill station. He has been brought in by the college management on the advice of a state minister to bring discipline among the students. In the process, he rubs the rowdy students, led by Michael (Bobby Simhaa), the wrong way. Kaali also comes to the rescue of two young people (Sanath and Megha Akash), who are in love. He also romances the girl’s mother (Simran), who is a teacher in Pranic healing. But Kaali also creates new enemies in the form of an Uttar Pradesh politician and power broker Singhar Singh (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) and his son Jithu (Vijay Sethupathi). And there is something in Kaali’s past that continues to haunt him.
The film, which has Rajinikanth in almost every frame. He is in terrific form and proves once again he is a superstar who can hold the audiences in awe with his style and panache.
the other actors, Nawazuddin has more screen space and in the post-interval, Valakkappu (baby shower) scene, he is fantastic. You can see the jealousy and evil in his eyes. Another deadly scene is the sudden killing that takes place at a funeral. The last 15 minutes belong to Rajinikanth, Siddiqui and Sethupathi, and the surprise twist in the end hits you like a bolt.
Simran and Trisha are there to fit the heroine slots. Why can’t Rajinikanth do a film without a conventional heroine?
The camera work of Tirru is a major highlight of the film and he has been able to make Rajinikanth look youthful. Anirudh Ravichander’s background score and the song ‘Marana Mass’ are a treat.
The major drawbacks of the film include its running time of 2 hours and 52 minutes. In the second half, one can feel the lag. And in the first half, the long drawn out college scenes become repetitive as they have been thrust in mainly for establishing the central character’s “heroism”. If the film had been cut by 20 minutes, it would have been much brisker. On the whole, Petta is an out and out Rajinikanth fan show rather than a Karthik Subbaraj film.