96 Review: A romantic trip down memory lane!
Love stories are there from the time of origin of cinema. They have been told in different languages, different styles, different perspectives and even in different formats, but they still have buyers. Tamil cinema has had numerous romantic films, including some pure classics. ’96’, the latest Vijay Sethupathi-Trisha starrer also belongs to this universally loved genre. Let’s see what the movie has to offer.
K Ramachandran aka Ram is a travel photographer. During one of his journeys, he happens to pass by his high school, which rekindles all the memories that he had buried close to his heart. He calls up his old friends and they soon plan for a reunion. The get-together of the ’96 batch. There he gets to meet Janaki aka Jaanu, his school time lover. What’s their back story? Why did they move apart? What destiny had in store for them? Is it a fairytale ending? The movie offers answers to all these queries in a very subtle and poignant way that can at times tug your heart.
Debutant director Prem Kumar has tried to tell a simple tale of how two high school sweethearts will react when they get a chance to meet after 22 long years. Lot has changed in these two decades but their feelings for each other are still lingering deep inside. A simple tale now becomes complex. There is a constant struggle between these romantic feelings and the practicalities of real life. The story is deftly balanced and it ultimately brings to us an achingly beautiful cinematic experience.
It is really strange how Vijay Sethupathi keeps repeating himself but is still lovable. While other actors work hard for a change in the character outlook (he also does that, but very minimal) and getting the traits right, he simply repeats his own mannerisms and still looks convincing in whatever he does. Jaanu is the best role Trisha has got after the Jessie of ‘Vinnaithaandi Varuvayaa’. While Jessie was a complex tough-nut-to-crack kind of woman, Jaanu is pleasant but also emotionally vulnerable. This is arguably her career best performance and to say the least, the woman is an ageless beauty.
While Vijay Sethupathi and Trisha have years of experience behind them, the two newcomers who played their younger versions have stood up to the veterans. Both the youngsters, Adithya Bhaskar and Gouri G Kishan, are brilliant finds as they hardly falter in the movie. They have breathed life to the innocence and awkwardness of teenage love. Among the supporting cast, Devadarshini was the most impressive.
Govind Vasantha’s music is as important to the movie as Amit Shah is to Modi. One is incomplete without the other. His soul-stirring score is the life of the movie. The music album was a blockbuster even before the movie’s release, so there’s nothing much left to talk about it. But still for the sake of it, I would like to declare ‘Kaathale Kaathale’ as the song of the year. How Prem Kumar has placed it in the movie is a master stroke, that you should check out in the theatres.
So, ’96 is a film for all of us. Rams and Jaanus are everywhere around us. This is an experience to be cherished for all those who have fallen in love, suffered heart breaks and even for those who are still drenched in the world of love. For me, it is a hopeless romantic’s paradise.