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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Petta...A fan "review"

It all starts with a slick intro* that gives you a taste of the violence that you are going to be exposed to for the better part of the 171 minutes to come. Our man, Kaali (Rajinikanth), walks into an elite college set in a hill-station as the temp hostel warden, thanks to a recommendation from a minister (or was it the Prime Minister?) He brings (a) order to the campus, (b) stops ragging, (c) expels some sort of super-seniors from the campus, and (d) gets the hostel mess in shape and even rants about changing the “system”. He accomplishes tasks a, b, and c in about 7 minutes or so, because he can. The crowd goes wild. This was the Rajini they wanted.
Pause.
He helps a teenage couple "stay in love" while managing to find some romantic solace from good old Simran...a pranic healing balm on the red-hot embers of revenge burning in his otherwise Good Samaritan heart.
Play.
Action and more action. Shades of Baasha, the savior, and protector, with an epic dialogue repeated (I will not spoil it for you) but none of it is overdone. You see, you can’t overdo Rajinikanth anyway. Watch out for a dance and song at the hostel. He is not a good dancer (don’t burn me), but he pulls off that 4-minute sequence like magic.
The villain, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, makes a much-delayed entry to recognize Rajinikanth from his previous avatar...Manikyam alla….Baasha…. (Oops...Kaali alla Petta Velan).
85 minutes up guys. Time for an interval.
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We looked around and the faces we saw were beaming with pride and happiness.
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The second half felt longer. These were two halves that felt like two different movies. The second paled in comparison with the first. Characters active in first barely find a place in the second and vice versa. It starts with a flashback. A patricide (son kills dad), an executed-to-order fratricide, an attempted sororicide…(would have gone all the way to genocide) an implausible storyline. That’s ok, I guess because the story was never the strength. And...objectivity is not the reason why you wake up at 2.30 in the morning and wait for the show to start.
Nawazuddin walks, talks, and acts as though he is vying for the national award for the best actor in a supporting role but no one apparently told him his character lacks depth. But then hey, who has depth in this movie except for The One? Simran’s role in the second half is a single scene in which she calls up Rajinikanth….and all they show is Rajini’s phone displaying her incoming call. And then there’s Vijay Sethupathi. His role as the politician Nawassudin’s son and an extreme right-wing element with anti-Valentine’s Day/"anti-national" crusader/Gaurakshak had potential...but his face looked like it was sculpted out of dead wood.
There’s a sense of urgency to most scenes in the first half and for a good bit in the second half. There are a few towards the end where the impatient ones in the audience (cough) go like "When you have to shoot, shoot, don't talk." Somewhere during the second half, the movie had a major deja vu Kabali moment, but that too came to pass in the end. The ending is muted, but all of that is ok. Because this is the Rajinikanth movie that two others promised to be (2.0 doesn’t count) and failed at different levels.
Overall, the movie clicks. In the hands of Karthik Subbaraj, millions of fans felt safe. He made Rajani do “cool” stuff, gave him his swag space, showed him as an old man that he is, made him snigger/dance/fall in love/kick/cook/deliver punches as well as punchlines/empty rounds of ammo/do the old cigarette trick/even Kill Bill (almost). And the fans are like....Do whatever it takes...Just keep him invincible!
All said this is the movie that truly deserved the line “Na Vanthuten sollu, thirumbi vanthuten sollu!”
#PettaRocks #getrajnified
*Where exactly would you place the intro scene in the actual scheme of things? During the hostel fight? I’m yet to figure that out. Maybe, I will find out tomorrow evening. Tea canceled.

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