IntroductionA very sincere and serious attempt has been made to recreate the magic of the old times. Every single Tamil fan of the Super-star called Rajnikant will obviously tell you that his super-duper hit called "Baasha" took him into another orbit altogether. These days, each producer tries to release each of his movies in three languages, with Tamil being the main language, as the movie always has a local environment in which the scenes unfold. With "Petta", the Rajnikant of the olden times is somewhat seen. The entire movie can be reviewed with reference to a) The Gripping Story b)The Action Sequences c) The weak dialogue delivery d) The rather predictable second half and e) Rajnikant's failure to recreate the old magic.
The Gripping StoryRajnikant, the Superstar becomes a temporary warden in a huge residential school in Dehra Dun. He fights with the local goons and particularly protects a very smart boy, whose name is mentioned as Anwar. It so happens that Anwar falls in love with a girl, who was his childhood friend. This is resented by another classmate, who tries to harm Anwar. As usual, our Superhero saves Anwar and is also involved in a little romance with the girl's mother. This characterization, though very small, is done well by Simran. The interval ends with some indication of who Anwar is.
The second half shows Anwar's mother who escaped a nasty bomb blast, in which her lover Muslim husband dies. (Sasikumar). The brother of Anwar's mother becomes a big goonda with Government support in UP. How our Rajnikant, whose name is Petta seeks revenge and uses the illegitimate son of the goonda to kill the goonda, forms the rest of the story. The story is gripping and there is not a dull moment, in the first half.
The way Rajnikant dances with the students fit enough to be his grandchildren is okay. However, age does show and it is somewhat ridiculous that even attempts are made to show the hero as a 45 years old guy, the way he manages to fight so many bad guys single-handed is still hard to digest.
In the second half, attempts are made to make Rajnikant look much younger. The scenes are very few. He loses his wife and son in the nasty bomb blast that also claims the life of his best friend. The similarity with Baasha is very obvious. In the latter, he loses his best friend who is a Muslim, gives up his gangster life in Mumbai and is back in Chennai as a humble auto driver. His own brother is a police officer who traces his old story. The main villain was the superb late Raghuvaran. His acting made the movie even more interesting. The songs were more melodious too.
Petta has songs but they do not register. The storyline is somewhat weak. In Petta, it is a very curious situation of trying to show a very young Rajnikanth. This has not been successful at all.
The Action sequencesThe action sequences in this movie, are simply scintillating. In the second half, though Rajnikant is shown as buying illegal guns from some trader, the fact that this is still common in UP does not seem jarring. We still hear that politicians have illegal guns in UP.
However, the scenes where the much younger guy, the actor called Vijay Sethupathi ( he is the illegitimate son of his father) appears along with Rajnikant, it is the former who steals the show. This guy has already given some superb performances in his recent movies and does a splendid job here too. The action sequences where he does a very good job are a big treat to watch. However, too much of violence in the second half will not do any good to the Super-hero's image. Yes, he does look younger. But 68+ is one age when the other National Superhero called Amitabh Bachchan chose to do superb rolls showing his age very clearly. Rajnikant will do well to give up taking roles where he is made to appear somewhat younger. After all, he was just 34 when he appeared in his superb movie called "Mullum malarum". This movie had a superb storyline with the late Shobha climbing many miles in acting of the tallest order.
The Weak dialogue deliveryUnlike Baasha that had the legendary dialogue, "naan oru tharam sonna nooru tharam sonna maathiri" ( if I say something once, it is equivalent to saying it one hundred times), there is not one single dialogue that registers with the audience. This is a big minus. Even the emotional scenes lack the punch recently seen in so many other movies. The environment has changed and Rajnikant has to realize that mere action cannot take him too far. Since he has already announced his entry into politics, his every single move will be closely watched. He could have used this movie to provide some clue to his political philosophy as well. He has failed to do everything. The comedy is so badly missing too. That he has not spoken a single word that makes sense in the changed context of Tamil Nadu politics has been commented by all critics. And this movie does not provide any clue either.
Though the story is gripping without a single dull moment, some emotional scenes involving the hero could have made the story even more interesting. One cannot totally say that the dialogues are zero. There is enough action to prove that only good values will be encouraged in the hostel, for example. However, the bite that one sees in other Rajnikant movies is lacking.
The rather predictable second halfImmediately after the interval is over, we are taken to Madurai, where the deadly bomb blast soon takes away the life of the hero's best Muslim friend. However, the story follows a rather predictable line and the suspense is totally lost. The main villain is shown as a heartless guy who seeks to kill both Petta and Anwar. It is somewhat unnatural that the villain is so powerful in a North Indian State. How he becomes such a big don is never explained. In any case, the story should have been more powerfully told, with some background reference to the villain's present position.
Rajnikant's failure to recreate the old magicThere are enough indications that fans of the Superstar still believe he can act young. His recent "Kabali", where he acted as the father of a 22-year-old girl, was far better in terms of story and action. His |Kaala" was a super flop, as he tried to act his age.
This movie "Petta" is perhaps one attempt to create a new image. Where the same hero can be comfortable in a 45 age story. However, Petta fails miserably in this context. Simple comparisons with the superb Baasha have already been made. But the age of 68+ is one age, where one can always act as the father only. The storylines with a lot of emotion like "Mullum Malarum" can still make a huge difference. His fans will gradually start accepting the fact that he is already 68+.
The sooner Rajnikant realizes this fact, the better it will be for not only his own career but for Tamil cinema as well.
ConclusionBaasha has been shown on Tamil channels at least one hundred times. It is still watchable. There are millions who watch it in theaters too, wherever it is screened.
Petta can be watched in the theaters only once. Period.