In Tamil Nadu, every moviegoer at some point in their journey of getting to know themselves has to choose between Rajni and Kamal. While you can appreciate both of them you can call yourself a fan only when you announce your association with either of them. And once you have done you are set for life. There is no getting down from the ship. And from what I know you cannot make the switch.
If you consider yourself to be a passionate moviegoer and find others making fun of your obsession I have news for you. Your passion will always play second fiddle to the love fans from Tamil Nadu have for their stars and in turn their movies.
Bollywood has only recently woken up to the possibility of 'event' films. Kollywood or whatever you want to call it has been spearheading the concept since time immemorial. Okay not that long but long enough to justify the adjective! If you doubt my words, which you have every right to, please go to a single screen theater in any part of Tamil Nadu on the day when Rajnikanth movie is releasing. I am sure even God takes the backseat and relishes the madness with a sip of coconut water!
You can also go to the multiplexes to experience the madness but it will be subdued. You see sophistication comes at the cost of letting go of our true colors! Heavy no? I promise no more points like these.
Let's talk about the movie, shall we?
Wait before that I have to talk about this. What is the purpose of movies? To entertain? To show a mirror to society? To uphold our collective moral rigor? To educate? To spread propaganda? To romanticize life? To tell a story?
Does it really need to have a purpose in the first place?
I have been divided on this topic for long. I had always looked down upon movies that had absolutely no plot or a story to cling onto. I still do, though I love the vision of the directors who go full blown into the madness. Rohit Shetty is a case in example. There is no iota of doubt what he is set out to do. He wants to give a total entertainer to his audience. He makes no qualms about it. He is not selling his movies on the pretext of art. He knows he specializes in mainstream cinema and he will play to his strengths. If he decides to add layers to his stories (which does not exist in the first place) like Anurag Kashyap or Vishal Bharadwaj do then I will be scared for my life.
Movie watching experience is subjective to people's opinions. Some want to be entertained and want to forget the miseries that life has offered to them on a platter. Some for lack of experience want to learn about love and everything that comes with it through the romance shown on the big screen. Others want their opinions and beliefs to be challenged and want a director to do the dirty work for them. We might have a bigger chunk of the population in one of these categories and am sure there are countless other categories that I can't even think of!
Hence when people say they relished or hated a movie you need to take their opinion with a bucket of salt! Yes, how can you decide if you will like a movie based on someone else's opinion of it? Do you know how this 'someone' evaluates a movie? Do you know about his 'taste' in movies? His life experiences have made him the person he is now and that plays a role in whether he likes a movie or not.
Okay. Rant is over. Now we shall talk about Petta?
Rajnikanth plays Rajnikanth in this movie. Yes with all his Rajnisms multiplied by multifold. The story is sparsely interspersed between the mass moments in the first half. The story takes a backseat and Rajni gets to do his thing. You may ask what is his thing? Well, I am sure you all have consumed your share of Rajnikant jokes on WhatsApp. It is basically the same with surprising subtlety to it. He is a fighter, chef, love guru, dancer and much more. He is a problem-solver. You throw a problem at him and he solves it. Like I said, He plays Ranjnikant in the movie.
In the second half, the director realizes he has Nawazuddin in the movie! In a wonderfully enacted scene, the Bollywood's versatile actor relishes in joy after getting his revenge by killing a truckload of people using a hidden bomb. He literally traverses through the bodies like a dog who has had a massive kill. That one scene is why Nawazuddin is in the movie. Everything else he does is what a typical villain does. For other scenes in the movie, you can replace him with your favorite villain whom you like to see get beaten up on the screen. My vote goes to Sonu Sood. There is this vicarious joy in seeing his gym body (for lack of a better term) getting beaten up by the hero who has a fragile body! In movies, as in life, it is the mind that wins over the body!
Anirudh's music and background music deserves a huge round of applause. It lifts the movie from the trenches of a disaster. It makes scenes come alive with aplomb. Remove his contribution from the movie and I would have certainly been disappointed with the leftovers.
I loved Tirru's camera work in the movie. There is a scene where a character is talking about her mother (played by Simran) and the camera keeps rotating till it rests on Rajni. That and few other shots were a visual treat to witness. The shooting scene at the end reminded me of Tarantino's world in which killing looks poetic. The style quotient of the movie is high. Scratch that. It is very high. And of course, Rajni feels at home here too. His dance moves weren't electric like his yesteryears but it was filled with grace.
I am not sure if we will ever have a superstar as magnanimous as Rajnikant. He has the strength to singlehandedly get the audiences to the theatres for a 5 a.m. show. Watching his movies is an event and not just an experience. And for these reasons and many more, I don't think we can reduce such movies to the whims and fancies of a rating or a review. You let down your hair, enter the theater, find your seat and whistle your heart out when the SUPERSTAR makes the entry. Everything else, including life, can wait.