96 review: Poignant and Powerful
96 will make you laugh and cry and we insist that you watch it
Critic's Rating: 4/5
Tuesday 2 October 2018
Vijay Sethupathi, Trisha, Aditya Baskar, Gauri
96 is a charming, old-fashioned love story that takes us back to the nostalgic school days. Most of the love stories that bloom in school days never ends up in marriage and 96 doesn’t have any cinematic cliches... so it will surely strike a chord among the audiences.The unseen hero of this delicious love story is writer-director C Premkumar who pulls off a near perfect script.
Ramachandran aka Ram (Vijay Sethupathi) is a travel photographer who comes back to his hometown. He is smitten by the smell of Tanjore soil, his school building, and the old watchman (Janakaraj). Obliging the request of the watchman, Ram calls his school friend (Bagavathi Perumal) who adds him to the WhatsApp group of their schoolmates.
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Two months later, all the ’96 batch students meet in Chennai for a reunion where Ram gets to meet his childhood love Janu (Trisha). Ram walks down the memory lane and spends a whole night with Janu, talking about the past and the situations that they went through in life. Janu is now married and settled down in Singapore.
From the first frame to the last, the film arrests us with the varied emotions of the characters. The visuals are glossy but it doesn’t overshadow the expressions of the characters, 96 is an unadulterated, mature love story. Both Ram and Janu is never vocal about their love, they don’t argue for silly reasons, there is no breakup, intimate scenes, rebound, and ego trip but still, they express pure love, feel for each other and makes us root for them.
Vijay Sethupathi is its backbone. He adds another inspired performance to his extraordinary repertoire. His gait, eyes, even his slight smile arrests you. Trisha has delivered an outstanding performance and she doesn’t take one wrong step. She makes Janu real and lovable. While Vijay Sethupathi had acted as an aged man in the past, Trisha playing a 37-year-old woman in the film shows her maturity and she has elegantly carried her role with so much class! Sethu, as usual, steals the show with his witty one-liners, innocent smile, and inimitable performance. Dhevadarshini is a riot.
Aditya Bhaskar and Gouri Kishan who played the childhood of the protagonists are just brilliant and flawless. Gouri is a promising find while Aditya (son of MS Baskar) performs well as the timid schoolboy and there is a scene where he should walk like a brave young man in which he proves his versatility. The casting of child actors of Dhevadarshini (her real daughter), Aadukalam Murugadoss, and Baghavathi Perumal is also brilliant.
The first half of the film is predominantly carried by Aditya and Gauri, only in the second half we get to see Trisha and Vijay Sethupathi’s combination scenes. The chemistry between them and their admiration for each other is a gem. All the S.Janaki vintage classic songs sung by Gauri (childhood Janu) are effectively placed to take the story forward, the importance of Yamune Aatrile and the scene where it was sung by Trisha in the second half are clap worthy moments. Those Janaki songs composed by Ilaiyaraaja also tells us how their music created spark in the teenagers during ‘90s.
Technically, Govind Vasanth’s music and songs are a biggest strength. The camerawork (Mahendran Jayaraju and Shanmuga Sundaram) is awesome, as it captures Chennai city, metro rail, airport and the flyovers in a poetic manner. The climax of 96 should actually melt everyone’s heart. The greatest love stories are the ones that make you root for the protagonists to come together, despite their destinies. This is one of the best films in a long time. It will make you laugh and cry and we insist that you watch it.
96 review: Verdict: poignant and powerful