Thursday, 11 October 2018

'96 - Tamil Movie

Vijay Sethupathi, Trisha Krishnan
Adithya Bhaskar, Gouri G kishan, Niyathi Kadambi
Devadarshini, Bagavathi Perumal, Aadukalam Murugadoss
Janagaraj (Cameo)
C. Prem Kumar
N. Shanmuga Sundaram
Govind Menon
R. Govindaraj
Madras Enterprises
Release Date
4 October, 2018
2 Hours & 37 Minutes

My Thoughts
’96 which is written and directed by C. Prem Kumar is a beautiful dedication to first love and its ability to change people’s lives forever. K Ramakrishnan aka Ram and Jananki Devi S aka Janu, who are classmates, love each other. Due to certain situations, they part their ways. However, their love for each other cherished in heart and they continue to remain as an important part of their lives although they are miles apart. What happens when they meet after 22 years forms the rest of the story.

‘96 gives a realistic perspective to unrequited love. It poetically narrates the importance moving on while also acknowledging that love for each other could never die! It also has a very walk-down-the-memory lane kind of feel. It makes us nostalgic with floppy discs, absence of mobile phones and with the sheer simplicity of that era. It also reminds us of the days when we used to wait days and years together just to see someone. The school uniform, prayer session, student’s attendance taken by the teacher, lunch session and then the long walk or maybe a cycle ride back home is captured realistically. Also, the use of Illayaraja’s melodies through the movie is an added bonanza.

Although the movie begins through Ram – his nomadic lifestyle and the way he enjoys his solitude – ’96 is also about Janu. It is about them and the journey they embark away from each other, yet emotionally entwined forever. The screenplay is commendable and not a single moment or dialog seems wasted or out of context. The editing makes the scenes flow with ease, building the anticipation and revealing their thoughts, emotions, their pasts and present. The background music elevates the feel and Kaadhale Kaadhale leaves a bitter-sweet aftertaste.
Vijay Sethupathi as older Ram, needless to say, makes the character instantly adorable, sweet and cute. With his silence and occasional smile, he makes us pine for lover like him. He is not the typical stalking or the go-getter hero we usually get to see in movies. Instead, he values the choices of his girl and just stand by her. Kudos to Aadithya Baskar who enacts the role of younger Ram. He has, thankfully, never tried to be a mimic. However, their similar physical attributes makes it easier to relate to the character. Contrast to this, the younger Janu looks nothing like the older one. But, with her own individuality and because of her bold rather realistic characterization, Gowri becomes instantly likeable. Hang on, I wanted to save the best for last – Trisha as older Janu gives goosebumps when she is first shown on screen. She looks simple and that very simplicity coupled with the maturity that only age can bring, makes her look real. Janu breaks all the clichés that Tamizh cinema has had about women characters in general. She is married and has a daughter too. But she never shies away from letting Ram know that she still loves him and she always him. Of course, she also clarifies that she is peacefully marries and has no complaints.

Devadarshini, Bagavathi Perumal and Aadukalam Murugadoss as well as the actors who play their younger selves. All of them are natural actors and they only add to the realism.

In short, ’96 gently nudges the audience to fall in love. At the same time, it requires them to also accept the reality and just move on if things doesn’t go as planned. (Spoiler alert: I really thought that they will at least hug each other and cry on each other’s arms!)

’96 is an experience – don’t miss it!

(Well, it’s an impeccable movie!!!)