Thamizh Talkies: Clash of the titans
The writer is a former journalist who has worked in the film industry for several years and is passionate about movies, music and everything related to entertainment
The defining shot of the Petta trailer for me is the one in which Rajinikanth stands alone and rolls the gun with his fingers. There are certainly more such moments in this much-to-look-forward-to film which comes directed by one of my favourite filmmakers, Karthik Subbaraj. Two years ago, I had written about how Vijay and Ajith must act in films made by certain directors, and one of them was Karthik. Two years hence, our Superstar has opened doors for such a combination. A new mix and match of talents can throw in a few surprises and as viewers, that break in monotony is what we seek. But on the other hand, a tried and tested combination can also come up trumps - as evidenced by what one sees in the Viswasam trailer - which has Ajith mouth a line like “Yenn kadhaila naa villain” which harks back mainly to his role in Venkat Prabhu’s Mankatha in which he played the diabolical, unapologetic “money money money” man.
The only hitch with the Pongal releases this time is the division of theatres and revenues between two big films. Couldn’t that have been avoided? Why should the audience be divided over which favourite hero or director’s film to watch as FDFS? This question has so far not resulted in any satisfying answer and hence, we have to make our choice as to whose film we will see first. Rajinikanth or Ajith? And does a filmmaker’s name make a difference to this choice? To me, it does.
Cinema has been, is, and will be a storyteller’s medium. It is the writer-director who decides to show us his or her world in those few hours of screen time. Karthik Subbaraj was the name Mani Ratnam said when asked which director he thinks is most promising. Pizza, Jigarthanda, Iraivi... are films which stay true to their unique titles, stories, and star cast. It is lovely to see Vijay Sethupathi take on not just a hero’s role but various other characters as well in Karthik’s films, which now includes playing the villain in Petta. The Karthik Subbaraj and Vijay Sethupathi combination is evolving like the K Balachander-Kamal Haasan one did, with the latter being a standard part of almost all of the former’s films. Dhanush and Vetrimaaran have the same pattern too -- but Dhanush so far has only played the lead in Vetrimaaran’s films.
The combination of director Siva and Ajith is also in this list and their box-office success has reached four films with Viswasam. So what do we look forward to in this Pongal release? A racy film with family sentiments which work, and colourful festive scenarios, which have an energetic action-packed mass-hero. There is also Nayanthara, whose role is touted to be as strong as the hero’s. Viswasam, from its trailer, looks to be the best from this director-actor duo.
What do we look forward to in Petta? We wish to see the competent actor Rajinikanth is, apart from his trademark style and panache, his ease of delivering punchlines. I do want to see how he fits into a Karthik Subbaraj world. Though the story was written just for him, it certainly must not have been a mere cakewalk if one were to go by the two looks he sports. The splendid cast Karthik has lined up for each and every role is another main draw. Petta was assembled at short notice but has some of the best actors in our country from whom we can’t afford to avert our eyes. Anirudh’s music and Tirru’s camera are added reasons to see how these technicians have come together to make a Superstar film.
Petta is a slightly more important step in another sense. It has the vibe of a superstar who has surrendered himself to the director’s vision of the film. And it seems to have worked. Much applause to Rajinikanth for adapting himself to work with new-gen talent who, no doubt, did it all including camera work, costumes, assisted him in dialogues, adjusted lights... and who must have added their energy to the film. This clearly shows from whatever we have seen of Petta so far. To me it appears like Rajinikanth simply said “I’m all yours” and Karthik Subbaraj and team have showered him with the kind of unconditional love which has translated into this film. And unconditional love as we know is what makes a hero, a Superstar.