Rajini's Annaatthe review: Formulaic Siva's Diwali offering is a Pied Piper pitch

Siruthai Siva of Viswasam and Veeram fame has no qualms in sticking to a formula. The family audience is at the heart of Siva's films and Rajini-starrer Annaatthe was not expected to stray from the formulaic pattern.

Rajini's previous silver screen outing Darbar did not make the expected noise in cash counters, but for an industry struggling to reclaim its mass charm, a superstar movie was seen as an elixir.

The film has Nayanthara as Rajini's lass for the second time in a row after Darbar. Her earlier appearance as Rajini's love interest was in the superhit movie Chandramukhi, a remake of Malayalam hit Manichitrathazhu starring Mohanlal and Shobhana.

Rajini's yesteryear heroines Meena and Khushbu Sundar reappear in Annaatthe, but as the title suggests the doting brother's focus is always on his sister -- Keerthi Suresh comes into play at this juncture of the drama.

Not content with four heroines -- present and past -- Siva also injects an array of supervillains into his vast canvas, but shows scant regard to infuse some meat into their roles.

Perhaps, Siva should have gone back to the 'Padayappa' mould to figure out villains need to have a stern spine for even star movies to click.

Prakash Raj, Jagapathi Babu and Abhimanyu Singh can be definitely put to optimum use, even if we are hell-bent to stick to a pattern.

D Imman can dole out the musical ingredients vital for a star movie effortlessly. Vetri's cinematography is tailor-made to capture the hordes of human shades so vital for a movie of such proportions.

So, the Rs 200 crore Diwali offering is basically a tool to bring back the audiences confined to the cozy embrace of OTT platforms back to the cinema halls. Unofficial count puts the number of screens for the mega release worldwide to nearly 2,000.

Coming after the Darbar debacle and a reluctant Rajini's announcement not to make a political foray, fan interest is likely to be muted.

And fans alone can't be expected to make Annaatthe a blockbuster in the present scenario, which is perhaps why Siva is keen on a family ensemble bet yet again. No wonder we have an emotional outpouring for the tender hearts as well as adrenalin push in the form of high-octane stunt sequences served with a cautious mix.

Since there is no precedent for such a long hiatus for the silver screens, we never know if a formulaic pitch with a star quotient can do the trick.

If Annaatthe can pull it off, fair enough because the film industry needs to unshackle itself from the firm grip of a devastating pandemic.

Hoping against hope the Big Brother, Annaatthe, can sway the masses to the theatre like the folklore of the Pied Piper, who saved the masses from a pandemic by luring away rats.

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