Superstar Rajnikanth is back once again to bring his every man action thriller, mixed with social story in Petta. A cast of well-known south and north stars combine to bring their vibrant acting skills to a film that seems to be described by the opening line of the trailer, “Twenty men were sent, he thrashed them all.” This is nothing new from Rajnikanth or for the stars he has brought with him in this film. However, the real twist in this film is its album, for which he has brought the wunderkind Anirudh Ravichander.
The name will be familiar to Bollywood audiences from the unforgettable “Why this Kolaveri Di?”, a mixture of humour and sadness that had people around the world making endless versions for social media. Keep in mind Anirudh is another in the line of great music directors the south seems to produce with regularity (think Illyaraja, AR Rahman and GV Prakash Kumar) and apart from Kolaveri he has also recently done songs for the film David and a private solo release Bewajah. Petta’s album itself is even structured in an interesting way with a song followed by an instrumental giving 10 songs but all quite short.
Anirudh takes to the mic with the legend Mano for the opener Mass Marudan. A repetitive 3:46 length song, the song is simple with a solid beat and Anirudh taking care of the melody with his vocals. Halfway in a strong entrance by brass that is synonymous with Anirudh brings in Mano who works his way through some interesting lyrics, simply carrying on from where Anirudh left off. There doesn’t seem to be anything intrinsically wrong with the song, but the best songs have something a little quirky which this one doesn’t.
The first instrumental is the 1:46 Theme Instrumental. Loud brass and heavy electric guitar with occasional interruptions from a beat boxer. There’s intrigue, there’s hidden power but there’s politeness and subtlety… this one promises more to come.
Nazar Sarsari is the token love song so Anirudh makes a good choice electing to have Darshan Raval give the vocals. Anirudh provides plenty of the usual accompaniment: acoustic guitar, lively strings and a soft flute all back Darshan’s smooth rendition. Throughout there is the feeling of anticipation and the ending flourish also makes the heart flutter. A light and beautiful song, just all very cosy.
Madura Petta (Instrumental) is a festival song. This could be any religious festival being held in South India with heavy use of sheenai, dumroo occasionally thrown in to change up the sound and a mridangam for beat. Clean and short at 1:18.
Nakul Abhyankar gives us a rock song next with Petta Paraak. “Ab na rehega tu, na teri saltanat” screams the singer seemingly with the power of ten. Depending on the visuals this one will hit home with the action crowd with its no nonsense, no holes barred approach. Again, very repetitive and not really getting away from any standard formulas, still this song does the job it’s supposed to in an action movie.
Singaar Singh… the name says it all. This theme song is mridangam and sheenai only. It sounds like the snake the character is portraying in both name and performance. The sudden quiet for a few seconds near the end is eerie.
Time for a wedding song as promised in the trailer. Ye Shadiyaana is for a happy wedding moment with a touch of the Spanish influence about it. Rahul Sipligunj has some interesting lyrics over dholak and brass. A little strange in that there are some odd speed changes but overall this keeps the song interesting. If anything at under 3 minutes this one is short.
Jithu Theme (instrumental) takes on an Arabic flavour. A smoky air seems to circulate with rhythmic clapping seemingly keeping the mind clear.
Nakash Aziz brings out his speciality for Ullaalla. A drunk but positive mood song, this has a vague Goan style about it, without any flair but a very easy listening jazzy style. This is the only ‘full-length’ song in the album at 4:56 which given the rest of the album feels very, very long, even though it’s a comfortable fun song.
The last theme is Kaali theme (instrumental). This one sounds like it could be at a Kaali festival with only brass and chorus coming together to give a reverent sound.
The last song however goes to Sarwar Khan’s Thappad Mara. This is very much a literal, say what you see type song. It’s a short song at 2 minutes with a dholak, tambourine and ektara to backup this almost feminine voiced singer. The lyrics are unchanging, thus the shortness of it but there is enough time for a change of speed which helps keep things live.
In the South, Anirudh Ravichander is known for his willingness to try all kinds of music and come up with original ideas based on flavours from everywhere. He is asked to take on stories of all kinds, whether they be straight romance, straight action or something in between. His notes are both mystical and magical. For Petta, he was writing for a group of different performances which defined the instrumental themes and thus explains why they are each so different. Each of these deserves great praise as each is a snapshot into the character. Nevertheless, there are the 5 actual songs of the film, which are all either too short, too long, too repetitive, too much of what listeners have heard before, too formula… too much of everything that brings an album down.