96 Movie - A visitors Review

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96 Movie - A visitors Review

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Debutant Prem Kumar takes us on a nostalgic trip of time, place and love in this feature film which breathes unhurriedly. The film begins with acknowledging and thanking Maestro Ilaiyaraaja. His immortal compositions are very artfully used in the film while also serving to create a sense of nostalgia.

Music plays a huge role in this film driven by moments & dialogues and incidentally I first saw the music director of the film Govind Vasantha who is part of the band Thaikkudam Bridge playing the violin on the medley tribute to the maestro himself during ‘Ilaiyaraaja 1000’. The background score of the film influenced by maestro’s work sets the mood of the film and underlines emotions beautifully.

Cinematographer N.Shanmuga Sundaram has played a great part in realising the vision of the writer & director. In line with the vocation of the protagonist being a travel photographer, the frames of the film ooze nostalgia, love & pain poignantly. The staging of the scenes also remain realistic with occasional zoom in’s. The movie’s hinge point is the performance of the leads and capturing it right amounts also lifts the narrative hugely. Chinmayi’s vocal performance in the film, be it the songs or dubbing for Trisha, greatly outlines the character and enhances the emotional impact.

Vijay Sethupathi whose recent film performances suffered from complacency has really gotten into the skin of his character Ram. The palpitation, excitement, love, innocence and heart break is communicated vividly by his performance. At some places, the intensity/flow of the narrative is let down by dialogue delivery.  Trisha again makes ‘Jannu’ very accessible and believable in one of her better on screen outings. In emotional sequences, she shines all the way without breaking the intensity of the scene while managing to seize the screen. In certain scenes, she was predominantly delivering pretty expressions without being in the ‘scene’ which mellowed down the impact a tad.

Prem kumar’s approach to the genre absent run of the mill clichés and dazzling colours & lights draws the audience into the movie. The characterisation of the leads ensured that movies goers are absorbed into their conversations and the drama that results. The sense of nostalgia belonging to the 90’s are created from meticulously detailed properties used in the film. The production and costume designers are also to be credited with for pulling off the period effect.

The second half of the film is inspired by Richard Linklater’s “Before Sunset” where it just lingers around the leads as they take a trip through the city. Certain scenes in the second half felt over indulgent which could have been written and edited in way to retain the flavour without getting carried away. But the majorly unsentimental dialogues make us stay with the narration even though at times the screenplay drags some moments beyond what’s requisite.

96 is one the rare films of Tamil Cinema which manages to do justice to the genre and travel within the boundaries of characters it portrays. Charismatic performances of the leads, enticing music & alluring frames dominate this feature film but the ‘pure’ approach of the writer & director emerges glowingly after the curtain falls. 96 the film deserves to be viewed at the cinema for many reasons enumerated here but most importantly for its unwavering, enduring, melancholic & lasting quality of love it represents.

Sriraman Srinivasan
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