Petta director Karthik Subbaraj, who by his own admission is a huge Ranjini fan, delivers a Pongal treat for hardcore Rajinikanth fans. True to its tagline—Get Rajinified—the film gives the audience a fine blend of superstar Rajinikanth and Rajinikanth, the soon-to-be-politician. Rajinikanth is on a roll as he rekindles nostalgia with his characteristic on-screen tactics from his classics—flips his glasses in style and walks fast like the wind.
A hostel warden with a mysterious past takes on a politician and his son—this is the basic plot of Petta. At the college hostel, Kaali works to set things right and and deals with a gang of boys headed by Michael (Bobby Simha). Reminiscent of his characters in '90s films like Mullum Malarum, Aarilirunthu arubathu varai, Murattu Kaalai, Moondru Mugam, Rajinikanth is fabulous as Kaali.
In the second half, the story moves to Uttar Pradesh,where the hostel warden, now as Pettavalan, takes on right wing politician and don Singhar Singh (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) and his son Jithu (Vijay Sethupathi). The film takes a cue from Rajinikanth's classic superhit Baasha and the character of his Muslim friend Anwar in it. The basic template of Baasha, however, witnesses variations and changes. While Manickam turns Manik Baasha, in Petta, Pettavalan turns Kaali for greater good. Sasikumar's character Malik is also a throwback to Anwar in Baasha.
The punch lines, one-liners and action scenes are real Rajinisms that hard core Rajini fans would always love to watch. Petta brings back Padayappa, too, who would sit on a chair in style with his legs crossed. The traditional gate opening scene from Apoorva Ragangal is also reminded. He smokes in style, saying smoking is injurious to health, he walks with his hands in his coat pockets in cold weather and rides a bicycle in style. Kaali also falls in love with Mangalam, a pranic healer, essayed by Simran.
At a time when Rajinikanth is eyeing a political entry, his dialogues and story lines are bound to have slight political undertones. Inter caste weddings, celebrating Valentines' day, Hindutva culture and honour killings will flash through the minds of the audience in the three hours. The right wing rallies in Uttar Pradesh, pooja performed on the banks of Sarayu river in Ayodhya also feature in the backdrop.
Some of Rajini's punchlines are less 'mass' and more of a sign of things to come. "Naan veezhven endru ninaithayo” [did you think I will fall?]and "puthusa yaravadhu vantha enna” [why is that you won't allow a newcomer?] are few dialogues that seem to hint at the veteran actor's political aspirations.
Despite all the swag, Petta is too long, giving very less space to beautiful actors like Simran and Trisha. The villain characters played by Nawazuddin siddique and Vijay Sethupathi fail to bring back memories of Mark Antony in Baasha.
Anirudh Ravichander's music is awesome. The beats of 'Marana Maasu' stay with us throughout the film.
Director: Karthik Subbaraj
Cast: Rajnikanth, Vijay Sethupathi, Bobby Simha, Sasikumar, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Simran, Trisha