Annaatthe – Movie Review
Rajinikanth would not be able to rescue a badly-written Annaaatthe.
During the intermission in Anna, we see a woman in distress exit a club where the individuals who have been tormenting her are lying on the ground, thanks to an unknown hero. As she walks away, this savior stands atop a building with a huge shadow that seems to go along with her, like some sort of protective barrier. It’s a fantastic picture motif that neatly captures the story of Annaatthe, in which a brother fights to keep his sister safe from all harm. However, it also conveys another layer of meaning to the film. The arrival of a Rajinikanth film these days is more effective when it manifests itself in the form of a shadow or a silhouette, rather than when the camera focuses on the individual himself, who has begun to resemble more a shade of the Superstar we know. There are times when we see him attempting to perform the roles known of by Rajinikanth from 15 years ago, such as when he chastises Prakash Raj in a courtroom scene where he plays a minor adversary who is enlightened by the hero.
Yes, even at 70 years of age, he performs everything that we anticipate seeing on screen. He mouths punchlines (which are now useless since he has made his political entry clear), playfully courts the lead actress (here, it’s Nayanthara who is happy to take on a smaller role), gets emotional, and gives us nostalgia trips to his prior pictures (Such as in the case of Meena and Khushbu, Rajinihasone heroines who have been reduced to comic supporting characters), the celebration of the Tamil New Year, also known as Thiruvonam, is a two-day event that sees tens of thousands congregate in temples throughout Tamil Nadu. On the first day, Rajinikanth rides across town on a bull and shakes a leg to D Imman’s peppy songs before sending 12 men flying. But there’s one adversary that no Rajinikanth can defeat — bad writing! And in Annaatthe, this opponent is simply too powerful.
The film focuses on panchayat president Kaalaiyan (Rajinikanth), affectionately known as Annaatthe by everyone around him, and his sister Thanga Meenatchi (Keerthy Suresh, who appears to be auditioning for the sad face smiley in an emoji movie). They have a special bond. How do we know? It is stated so to us. We witness Kaalayian picking up Meenatchi, who has just completed her studies in Kolkata and has just returned home, in a vehicle early on in the film. We cut to Meenatchi, and she’s suddenly all tearful and nostalgic. We get a flashback of a mother dying during childbirth, with the brother taking on the mother’s responsibilities and caring for his sister. Yes, the writing is that basic.
Writers: Siva(dialogue), Chandran Pachamuthu(dialogue), Savari Muthu(dialogue)
Stars: Rajinikanth, Keerthy Suresh, Nayanthara
Then, as a way of honoring his sister’s good looks, he decides to arrange a marriage for her. What is the reason? Because a pair of elderly women ask him when he plans on getting her married! But then, because he wants his sister to be within a 5km radius so that he can go to her assistance if she calls for it, he agrees to an alliance. Why? Even if his sister marries a multi-millionaire, she will still have to visit a doctor, so why not hire a physician as the groom? No, this isn’t said in jest like the preceding scenes when grooms refuse men for their violent behavior, but rather in a very serious tone. In comparison to those purportedly amusing sequences, this moment is comedic gold.
Meanwhile, fate takes a hand when the brother and sister are split apart. He finds her in Kolkata, where he sees her in a terrible situation. Kaalaiyan decides to pursue the man who has made his sister’s life miserable after seeing how Meenatchi refuses to let her brother see her in such a state. Annaatthe seems like a collage of weaker moments from director Siva’s filmography, whereas Petta appears to be a pastiche of Rajinikanth’s films. We have the bad guys from Siruthai, the ‘saviour who can’t reveal his identity’ theme from Veeram, the brother-sister theme from Vedalam, and the rural setting of Viswasam. The final result is a film that seems very manipulative in terms of emotion. Given the movie’s emphasis on the sibling relationship, we anticipate scenes demonstrating why and how Kaalaiyan and Meenatchi are close. Instead, as was the case in recent Udanpirappe, characters only talk about their relationship! D Imman’s choice to use a sentimental soundtrack doesn’t really add an emotional impact to the action sequences, which are shot in a cookie-cutter style.
At least, the heroes are made out to be stronger than their counterparts. Finally, the bad guys are also poorly developed. Abhimanyu’s Manoj Palekar is established as the adversary for much of the time, but he only watches his henchmen being beaten up and running away. Then there’s Uddhav Palekar (Jagapathi Babu), his half-brother, who appears to be even more ruthless (he has become a popular choice for ineptly written antagonists). He is less of a danger, yet he still manages to earn his victory! We were only sad that the baddies in Rajinikanth movies have deteriorated to this point! Not just villains, the Superstar also deserves better writers and directors.