Let’s face it, Rajinikanth doesn’t have many more movies left in him and the gooseflesh-inducing honorific “Super Star” might not show on the big screen anytime soon considering his health problems. However, the much-venerated “Rajini Sir” needs to plan a graceful exit. Considering his latest outing, Annatthe, one gets a feeling that Rajnikanth isn’t paying any attention to the scripts.
This Diwali offering, directed by Siva, is about a village president Kalaiayyan (acted by you-know-who) whose whole world revolves around his younger sister Thanga Meenatchi (a mopey Keerthy Suresh). Twist in the tale comes when she elopes on the night of her wedding and moves to Kolkata to marry to her boyfriend. Rajinikanth finds out the reason for her change of heart and helps her in every way without revealing his identity.
Instead of relying on others, Siva decided to rehash his own movies to deliver this cocktail that’s more toxic than the TV serials of the 90s and punishingly same-y movies of the 80s. Imagine a regressive combo of Vedalam and Viswasam and you’ll come up with a better version of Annatthe in your head than what you’ll see on screen.
The movie’s first half is ostensibly about humour where Soori throws a word and Rajinikanth finishes it with a rhyming word. Yes, it’s as horrible as it sounds. Khushbu and Meena are wasted in their headache-inducing variant of flirting with Rajinikanth, a comedy track that adds nothing to the plot but only makes the movie more bloated and unbearable.
The second half gets equally worse with Rajinikanth coming to the rescue of his sister who is facing troubles from a bunch of baddies led by a menacing Jagapathi Babu. He magically makes all her problems disappear without her ever questioning who is orchestrating the rescue mission. Nayanthara appears in a well-intentioned but lifeless cameo as a lawyer.
Kalanithi Maran’s Sun Pictures spent lavishly on this movie without paying heed to the lazy script and that’s why Vetri’s quietly mesmerising cinematography is Annatthe’s sole redeeming factor. D Imman comes up with a decent soundtrack but the screeching background music makes one want to exit the cinema way before Rajinikanth entertains the thought of hanging up his acting boots. It’s been over a decade since Enthiran released and Rajinikanth is yet to enthrall his die-hard fans with something that would be a blast from his glorious past. Annatthe’s setting is similar to Padayappa but the deadly swagger and the entertaining trashiness is missing here. No one expected Siva to re-invent the wheel but he shouldn’t have come up with a script that is loaded with fannish obeisance for his leading man and little else.
Except the pre-interval fight, the action sequences are nothing much to rave about and this is a movie that stars the biggest action hero of Indian cinema. “So bad that it’s good” has been the secret cave of delight for the movie lovers years after the movie got a release not when the audience is supposed to revive the movie-going culture amid pandemic. I never thought I would say this, but yes, Annatthe is even worse than Lingaa.
This Diwali weekend if you are looking for a solid watch, you can do that well within the confines of your home with Jai Bhim streaming on Amazon Prime. Suriya’s brilliant portrayal of a lawyer fighting for the rights of a pregnant tribal woman will leave you awestruck. Director TJ Gnanavel shows police brutality in a relentlessly bleak manner and that’s why this unflinching ode to Ambedkarite values is a must watch rather than a moribund badly staged movie like Annatthe.