Verdict – “Intha Aatam Pothuma?”
When director Karthik Subbaraj promised that Petta (2019) would be a tribute to Superstar Rajinikanth, he delivered as promised.
The film is basically a modern reimagination of Baasha and as the audience, you pretty much know the course of where the film is headed. However, the director has placed certain clever plot twists that keeps you from guessing how it ends. The director constantly reminds you that Petta is a throwback film by subtly throwing in certain “feelers.” The film consistently has old Tamil film songs littered throughout the movie and the side characters and their names are a throwback to Baasha, which I found smart. There were some impressive Gun-Kata action sequences towards the climax of the film which is a breakaway from the usual Tamil cinema hero fights.
Bringing back vintage Rajinikanth with his trademark swag and bounce works for the masses because it encapsulates the very root of his acting dexterity. Superstar Rajinikanth, with his larger-than-life screen presence, is simply a performer. Thus, Karthik Subbaraj paints the film with bouts of Rajinism, allowing the actor to showcase emotion, throw punch dialouges and capture the audience with his inimitable style. Personally, I think this is one of the main strengths of the film as it does not pretend to be the director’s film and it belongs uniquely to the Superstar himself.
However, the film did have its drawbacks. The first half of the film was abit too long for me which I wish could have been edited shorter. Simran and Trisha each had barely 15 minutes of screen time before they disappeared. The antagonists of the film, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Vijay Sethupathi felt really underused and underwritten and it could literally have been just anyone else to play their roles. Vijay Sethupathi is delightful to watch and the screen times he shares with Rajinikanth are some of the highlight of the film. But if you’re thinking of some sort of Vikram Vedha type of cat and mouse game between the two, you’d be disappointed.