Karthik Subbaraj is one guy who openly admitted that he liked Lingaa, one of the worst Rajinikanth films in the recent past. That sort of shows how big a fan he is of the stylish super star and a talent like him collaborating with Rajinikanth obviously gave me hope as it may give an end product which would be a reinvented version of the Rajinikanth we all sort of wish to see on screen. Petta from Subbaraj has its shortcomings in the second half, but with that wacky little tail end, I think Karthik Subbaraj has managed to deliver that neat enough entertainer which isn’t boring even after being 171 minutes long.

So a college hostel in Tamilnadu is the premise of the movie. This chaotic disorganized place becomes organized when a new warden named Kaali takes charge. One night a normal college cat fight goes out of proportion revealing the intent and backdrop of the central character. What is that and how the story evolves post that is what Petta from Karthik Subbaraj showing us.

The best way to enjoy Petta in my opinion is to view it as a tribute to the filmography of Rajinikanth. He has a stylish intro, there is definitely a song to which he dances, there are punch dialogues, he is always the perfect decision maker and the movie plays for the gallery; but all of that in a Karthik Subbaraj way. When I say all of that in a Karthik Subbaraj way, I am not saying it is like a Jigarthanda. He is sort of respecting the fact that this phenomenon called Rajinikanth has aged, but he wants to show us that the signature swagger is still there. The conversations in some of the sequences have more of a calmer and cooler tone than the used to be loud and eccentric ones. There are some points in the first half where Rajini mocks himself about the obsession for cooling glass. The movie feels a bit tiring when it goes to the flashback portions. The drill is somewhat predictable and the length is almost excruciating. I was almost heartbroken when an old school twist happened in the story, but Karthik Subbaraj managed to make up for that in the portions that followed.

Get Rajinified is their tagline and I don’t think anybody would say that they never got Rajinified seeing the film. The movie has a fair amount of scenes which showcased the vintage, energetic Rajini. The superstar is entirely in his elements and the movie is sort of tailor-made for him to show off. Swagger, anger, attitude etc were portrayed smartly by the actor while the vulnerable scenes weren’t that convincing. Vijay Sethupathi plays the role of Jithu, a rash right-wing goon who is the right hand of the villain Singaar Singh played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui. The good thing about casting these two on the opposite end was that both of them had a good level of conviction. Vijay Sethupathi has that carefree nature while playing a negative shaded character and that really makes it all the more enjoyable. While Nawazuddin’s character isn’t really using the actor’s potential to the fullest, I can confidently say that he wasn’t sleepwalking as Singaar. These are actually the characters that will sort of stay with you. One major demerit of the film according to me is its positioning of female characters. Simran is mostly there for the good looks and Trisha’s character just doesn’t have much to do or say. Sasikumar gets an important character in the movie, but the screen time of the character was limited. Bobby Simha, Aadukalam Naren, Ramdoss, J Mahendran, Malavika Mohanan, Megha Akash, Manikandan Achari etc are there in the long list of actors in the movie.

The Rajini style movies are not known to be phenomenal stories. It has always been the presentation of a fair enough story on celluloid that made them all appealing. On that level, Petta from Karthik Subbaraj is a true blue Rajinikanth film. He plays with lighting and fights to create that Rajinikanth aura. I would say, in the first half of the movie Karthik Subbaraj is a Rajini fan and in the second half he is a director. The tweaks he has given to the cliché sort of gives the movie a surprise element. He may have said there are no political agendas here because of Rajinikanth. But by making the villains extreme right wing men Subbaraj definitely bypasses his politics into the film. It was subtle in the beginning when “Mitron” became a code word to shoot, but towards the end, it became a little bit loud. Tirru’s cinematography gives grandeur and style to the visuals. And the cuts gave the film an engaging speed. Anirudh’s music was also pretty effective in creating the mood.

Petta has a first half that is highly entertaining, a second half that looks a bit tiring and predictable and a climax that has both flavors of a Rajinikanth film and a Karthik Subbaraj film. Even though it has the compromises and broad strokes of commercial cinema, Karthik Subbaraj has made sure that it won’t look regressive in any sense.

Rating: 3/5

Final Thoughts

Petta has a first half that is highly entertaining, a second half that looks a bit tiring and predictable and a climax that has both flavors of a Rajinikanth film and a Karthik Subbaraj film.


Green: Recommended Content

Orange: The In-Between Ones

Red: Not Recommended


Categorized as Review, Tamil

By Aswin Bharadwaj

Founder and editor of Lensmen Reviews.