Annaatthe review: Rajinikanth's action drama belongs in a museum
Annaatthe review: Rajinikanth's action drama belongs in a museum

Annaatthe review: Rajinikanth's action drama belongs in a museum

I know you want to ask the question — is it worse than 'Lingaa', worse than 'Darbar'? PACHAKILI, what do I tell you? Absolutely.

Director Siva's Annaatthe has a galaxy of stars in it, with the 'Superstar' and 'Lady Superstar' shining bright among the names. And where does he lead them? Straight into a blackhole. It's with fondness that a Tamil cinema fan watches the letters S.U.P.E.R.S.T.A.R appear on screen followed by RAJNI. If you've spent sufficient time whistling and cheering for this in a theatre, you're already conditioned to like a Rajinikanth film. But just how much can one put up with? Maybe that's what Siva wants to find out, and this is a really clever 'experimental' film.

Rajinikanth plays Kaalaiyan, the President of a village. It's a name borrowed from Murattu Kaalai, his 1980s film. But the '80s would be put to shame with the amount of melodrama that Siva injects into this film which seems to have walked out of a museum. From the trailer, we knew that this was going to be a film about annan-thangachi love. But there's not a single moment of genuine bonding that we see between Kaalaiyan and Thanga Meenatchi (a hapless Keerthy Suresh). Everything about their relationship is theatrical; it's only defined by the background score with its chorus that screams AAAHHAAAHHHHAAAHHHHAAAAA like a banshee wailing. Kaalaiyan says something about the love he has for his sister and the camera swivels to register everyone's reaction shots in close-ups that make you familiar with the actors' nostrils by the time the film ends.

Thanga Meenatchi apparently studied in Kolkata (what did she study? It's irrelevant, since she is treated like a kindergarten kid all through the film) and is SOOOOO close to her brother that she takes a train every weekend to a Tamil Nadu village to visit him. The siblings even share a telepathic connection. But here's the thing — Thanga Meenatchi can't tell her brother that she likes someone, even as he's busy trying to arrange for her wedding. Yes, seriously. This could have been accomplished over a WhatsApp message or text but the telepathic siblings are unable to do this because where would Siva go for a plot then?

Soori plays Pachakili which means 'parrot' in Tamil. The running joke is that every time Kaalaiyan shouts 'PACHAKILI' (sorry about the caps, but the decibel level of this film tempts me to write the entire review in upper case), Soori replies with an English word that ends with -ly so it would rhyme with Pachakili. But it's really the women characters in the film who should have been called parrots because that's all they do. Repeat everything Kaalaiyan says — literally. Thanga Meenatchi is stuck saying lines like 'Un mudivu dhaan anne yen mudivu' (your decision is only my decision, brother) and 'Un santhosham dhaan anne yen santhosham' (your happiness is only my happiness, brother) while Nayanthara as lawyer Pattu is forever repeating Kaalaiyan's instructions to Thanga Meenatchi. There is exactly one scene in the entire film that was mildly funny, and to Nayan's credit, her chemistry with Rajinikanth shines through in it. And oh, wonderful sarees, Lady Superstar.

Watch: Trailer of Annaatthe

JAGAJAGAJAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. Wait, I'm introducing the villains the same way they appear in the film. Every time the score switches from AAAHHAAAHHHHAAAHHHHAAAAA to JAGAJAGAJAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA, you know they are coming. Siva really seems to like Kolkata, so that's where the film goes. Several long haired, glowering human beings with sickles and guns traverse the screen. Who are they? What is their motive? We don't know. But there's always JAGAJAGAJAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA, followed by rapid editing that makes the film run at 10x speed.

Jagapathi Babu plays chief villain Udhav Parekar, and is about as subtle as a sledgehammer landing on a fly. We just know that he's a very-very-very bad man with some serious daddy issues. Siva doesn't believe in characterisation, so that's all we know. Keerthy Suresh must have run way more in Annaatthe than Tom Cruise in all of his movies put together. It's the only clue that something is happening in the film because Siva doesn't waste any time piecing together logic or explaining why someone is doing something. But when Keerthy runs, we know it's time for JAGAJAGAJAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.

Meena and Khushbu appear in a completely jarring comedy track, and it's sad to see the actors being reduced to this. Rajinikanth reels off punch dialogues faster than a jet plane but you can see that the man is tired. The affection you have for the actor makes you forgive the obvious stiffness in his body, the glaring age difference between him and the woman he's romancing, the pasty make-up and much else. But even his biggest fan would admit that this film is a colossal mess. I know you want to ask the question — is it worse than Lingaa, worse than Darbar? PACHAKILI, what do I tell you? Absolutely.

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the series/film. TNM Editorial is independent of any business relationship the organisation may have with producers or any other members of its cast or crew.

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