Annaatthe Cast: Rajinikanth, Keerthy Suresh, Nayanthara, Jagapathi Babu, Abhimanyu Singh, Soori, Khushbu, Meena, Prakash Raj
Annaatthe Director: Siva
Where to Watch: In Theatres
Review by: Russel D'Silva
To mention that a Rajinikanth movie is a celebration in itself would be stating the obvious. And when it releases during Diwali that celebration is extrapolated manifold. However, when that celebration ventures into the realm of glorification such that the actor supersedes the character, his co-actors, and the story itself, is when things get complicated. Honestly, such vanity pieces are merely for the first two days to satisfy diehard Rajini fans as we've seen in the recent past with
Lingaa, Kabali (managed a miniscule profit), Kaala and Darbar, all of which failed to set the cash registers ringing in the long run, thus justifying their tepid critical response. Only Petta managed to soar high at the ticket windows going hand-in-hand with its largely positive reviews, and that's because Director Karthik Subbaraj knew how to celebrate Rajinism without compromising on the actual film. So, does Siva's Annaatthe manage to emulate it? Sadly not, and it has other issues bogging it down, too. So, are you excited about what to watch this weekend or what to watch this week and wondering whether Annaatthe is worth your time? Scroll down for my full Annaatthe review...
What's it about
Kalaiyaan aka Annaatthe (
Rajinikanth), the president of his village and larger-than-life do-gooder dotes on his kid sister, Thanga Meenakshi ( Keerthy Suresh), who's his entire world. But when she vanishes on her wedding day, Kalaiyaan can't fathom what went wrong between the two. After finally discovering her whereabouts, he realises the problems run far deeper and are more precarious than he had thought.
Watch the Annaatthe trailer below: VIDEO
Annaatthe is all about Rajinikanth's swag and no amount of words can justify how he carries a lackluster film as the action-oriented leading man at 70, making it just about watchable for everyone. Aiding him are the top-notch action sequence, especially in the second half, and the pulsating background score, which elevates his persona and idiosyncratic mannerism further. The rest of the cast, including top female stars like
Nayanthara and Keerthy Suresh, are relegated to sidekick status, but owing to their vast reserves of talent, the two actresses manage to lend gravitas and poignancy to their badly etched parts. Vetri's camerawork and the songs are also pretty good.
As I said before, the over-zealous glorification of everything Thalaivar isn't Annnaatthe's only issue. The problem is that his image as a star is glorified over that of his characters or other characters through long-winding dialogues that eventually become caricaturish because no normal person speaks in such preachy tones – simple messages also end getting conveyed as parables.
Making matters worse is the other major issue of the film's patriarchal undertones, where Kalaiyaan deifies his sister so much that she's expected to do everything perfectly as per his aspirations and she reveres him so much in turn that she just can't bring herself to object to him, leading to film's main plot device that could've easily been solves with a mere conversation. It's high time all Indian movies in every language stopped putting women on a pedestal, which is as shackling as making them victims of misogyny.
Even the very representation of Keerthy Suresh, where she doesn't wear backless and sleeveless blouses with her sarees like Nayanthara, since she's the hero's sister as opposed to the latter being his girlfriend, reeks of patriarchy as does them both always having to play damsels in distress for Rajinikanth to showcase his super-stardom. The dual antagonists,
Jagapathi Babu and Abhimanyu Singh, also can't do much to make our hero earn his victory, God forbid his sheen is taken off even by half a shade. And the cartoonish presentation of senior actors like Khushbu, Meena and Prakash Raj in extended cameos just for the deification of Rajinikanth is embarrassing. Honestly, the way everyone interacts with Rajni makes Siva's direction look borderline juvenile. It doesn't help either that all this is played out over 2 hours and 40 minutes, with Ruben's cuts taking a serious beating.
Annaatthe is Rajinikanth's swag and all his swag, which coupled with the action scenes and background score, make a preachy, patriarchal, predictable long-drawn out, rehashed script barely watchable. The villains hardly put up a fight before Rajini, the actresses are puppets to do his bidding, the other supporting cast is there to sing his praises, the cartoonish presentation of senior actors in cameos is embarrassing, and it's sheer credit to the man himself that despite Siva's best efforts to ensure the glorification and deification of Rajinism (the man, not the character in the film) supersedes everything else in the movie, Rajinikanth manages to keep it afloat. This one isn't a Diwali
fuski bomb that would displease Thalaivar's diehard fans, but it isn't also a loud firecracker that would please the neutral family audience looking for a reason to venture into theatres. I'm going with 2 out of 5 stars.
Rating : 2 out of 5
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