<div class="paragraphs"><p><em>Annaatthe&nbsp;</em>starring Rajinikanth and Nayanthara is directed by Siva.</p></div>

Annaatthe Review: A Tired Rajinikanth in a Tiring Film

Annaatthe is directed by Siva and stars Rajinikanth, Nayanthara, and Keerthy Suresh among others.

Movie Reviews
3 min read

Annaatthe Review: A Tired Rajinikanth in a Tiring Film

Make that two Tamil films this Deepavali with a scene in which someone speaks in Hindi to a Tamil character and the latter responds with a slap. Correction. Beats him to a pulp. Forget Hindi, it is a film by Siva. The villain has a Maharashtrian surname and speaks in Tamil in Kolkata.

Annaatthe has Rajinikanth in probably his worst film since Baba and in a performance that displays the weariness of a hitchhiker air dropped in the middle of a desert and left with an empty water bottle.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Rajinikanth in a still from&nbsp;<em>Annaatthe.</em></p></div>

Rajinikanth in a still from Annaatthe.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)


Make no mistake it has all the Siva signatures. It is a village film that moves to the city in the latter half. It has villains that appear and disappear as they please. It has the family sentiment with an emotional quotient of a pinhead sized balloon.

Kaalaiyan aka Annaatthe has a sister Meenatchi played by Keerthy Suresh. You know how it goes. But Siva thinks we don’t. He thinks Pasamalar is two decades away. For crying out loud, Udanpirappe was just two weeks ago. So, every ten minutes the film reminds us of what Meenatchi means to Kaalaiyan.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Rajinikanth plays Kaalaiyan and Keerthy Suresh plays his sister Meenatchi in&nbsp;<em>Annaatthe.</em></p></div>

Rajinikanth plays Kaalaiyan and Keerthy Suresh plays his sister Meenatchi in Annaatthe.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

The first half tries to mine comedy out of this and fails terribly. It’s one of the weakest set ups of any recent action-melodrama because it doesn’t make us feel anything. We don’t laugh, we don’t cry and worst of all, we aren’t even allowed the dignity to cringe.

We know intertextuality is a big part of Indian mainstream cinema, especially Tamil cinema. That’s why Rajinikanth playing Sivaji can say “Parasakthi hero da!” or crack a Kamal Haasan dialogue in 2.0. While I am not the biggest fan of Petta, at least Karthik Subbaraj is a crafty filmmaker who can toy with these ideas and create genuinely interesting moments.

What more, even in self-reflexive Rajinikanth, he was able to extract an original Rajini performance. Rajini was having fun! Here, Siva tries to bank on history with Khushboo and Meena. Supposedly cousin and niece of Kaalaiyan – it doesn’t matter who is what – he still wants a throwback to the times of them as actresses who had memorable roles opposite Rajini that he makes the whole set up into an orgy of unmentionable proportions. Eyes and ears wide shut please.

The problem really isn’t in Siva’s tone or pitch. By now everyone knows what to expect – which is a rehash of tropes and even his own plots. In Annaatthe he has become tired of his own shtick. The scene transitions are messy and hurried. There are literal explanations and text on screen for the most obvious developments.

In the first half, we brush away these things to get to the meat of the story. But we know everything about Kaalaiyan by the end of it. We know who he is, what he is and who all mean what to him. He speaks of good deeds, communicates only in proverbs and knows the ways of gods better than most men. But there is really no myth behind him.

This is who he is and now watch him bash people up and set things on fire. Where’s the fun in that? At least withhold some details and make the audience long for some payoff. The film then turns into unintentional comedy where even Rajini is disinterested.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>A still from Nayanthara and Rajinikanth-starrer&nbsp;<em>Annatthe.</em></p></div>

A still from Nayanthara and Rajinikanth-starrer Annatthe.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

And Nayanthara, well, she is there. Rajini is never disinterested in a film. If even he looks half-hearted to be in a film, when his facial muscles struggle not because of old age but because it looks like he doesn’t buy into this anymore, it’s the film that is wrong. There is one more thing that feels wrong. Who is holding a gun to Lady Superstar’s head and making her sign these films?

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