The release of the first single from Annaatthe is especially significant because this is the last SPB-Rajini introduction song, a hallowed Tamil cinema tradition from at least the 1990s, only occasionally broken by films like Baba, 2.0 and Kuselan. Though SPB has sung countless songs for Rajinikanth, the SPB-Rajini intro song probably became a fixture in its own right with ‘Vandhenda Paalkaaran’ from Annamalai and ‘Autokaaran’ from Baashha, back in the Deva-Rajinikanth era.
In the hands of AR Rahman and, later, Anirudh, the format of the Rajinikanth introduction song was tweaked and updated. But SPB was the constant for three decades: he has sung a duet with electronic instruments in the introspective ‘Pudhiya Manidha’ from Enthiran, and he has also belted out ‘Chumma Kizhi’ from Darbar — two very different songs, performed by the same singer for the same star. The release of ‘Annaatthe Annaathe’ is the last time that we can assume that SPB would have sung the introduction song of a Rajini film, and be outraged otherwise.
With ‘Annaathe Annaathe’, Imman creates a superbly functional Rajini introduction song that’s good because it doesn’t try too hard. In fact, it’s one of the more relaxed intro songs in recent times for Rajini ( ‘Devuda Devuda’ from Chandramukhi was the last time it sounded as low-fi as this one). It follows the tested template from the 90s: an energetic beat, meaningful lyrics, references to Rajinikanth’s style — and SPB’s no-holds-barred singing.
Lyrics by Viveka sound familiar but they’re perfectly serviceable. Unlike ‘Chumma Kizhi’ or ‘Marana Mass’ we don’t get anything to hook onto, except the refrain: annaatthe pesunaa stylu, annaatthe paadunaa stylu. From the lyrics, it’s likely that Rajini’s character is called Kalaiyan, and that he’s a farmer.
The first look of Annaatthe was released in September, and a motion poster soon after. It revealed a Rajinikanth in a traditional veshti-shirt, surrounded by golden bells, and a rustic background. It looks like Annaatthe would be a departure from recent Rajinikanth films, in that it looks like a family-action entertainer on the lines of Padayappa or Chandramukhi.
Apart from Rajinikanth, the film stars Meena, Khushbu, Nayanthara, Keerthy Suresh, Jackie Shroff, Jagapathi Babu, Prakash Raj, Soori and Satish. Annaatthe is directed by Siva and has music by D. Imman (Viswasam, Teddy, Laabam). Editing is by Ruben, cinematography by Vetri and action by Dhilip Subbarayan.
Produced by Sun Pictures, the film’s production and release was postponed multiple times due to the pandemic in 2020. The makers have now officially announced that the film releases for Diwali 2021 on November 4.