96 – Nostalgic Romance

There’s something beautiful about unfulfilled love stories! It’s poignant but strings together those “could and would have-s”, filling your heart with beautiful imagination.

The romance in 96 is not unrequited, yet it’s filled with things unspoken.

A boy – Ramachandran ‘RAAM’ and a girl – Jaanaki ‘JAANU’ in their early teens, fall in love – through silent glances and words unsaid. Circumstances bring an abrupt end to their short-lived romance that had blossomed in silence.

Now they meet again, after 22 long years, in a school reunion. The female is married, but the guy isn’t.

Will the silence continue to prevail but with a lot of awkwardness or will they burst into tears at the sight of each other or will the romance from the past be rekindled?

96 brings forth a beautiful love story that we may have experienced in parts, witnessed in our neighborhood or watched umpteen times in movies like “autograph” or “before sunset”.

Yet, as they say ‘a thing of beauty is a joy forever”. We couldn’t be bored because we have seen it all before. Except for a stretched later part of second half, 96 is filled with moments that make you smile, turn teary eyed, grow nostalgic and root for the protagonists.

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WHAT WORKS FOR THE MOVIE 96?

– The riveting narrative that cuts between the present, past, perspectives, “could haves” and supplies us with the doses of 90’s nostalgia.

– “Those-eyes-say-it-all” performances from Vijay Sethupathi and Trisha. While Trisha battles her inner pain with a tranquil smile, Sethupathi handles it with his anxiety, nervousness and sometimes as JAANU terms it – “being an innocent school kid”.

However hard they try, their eyes can’t help but show a tinge of melancholy. And this makes us long for their togetherness.

A special mention should go to the actors who have played the young “JAANU” and “RAAM”. It’s because of the way they have established the chemistry between the characters, that we begin to root for the present them.

– MUSIC – When the team had first released the teaser, the score Kaathalae Kaathalae had given us the testimony of the magic that would be in store.

I am not a person who buys the thought of “goosebumps moment”. But in the movie when Trisha first walks in, the score “Kaathalae” takes off and it was enough to break my ego and put my hair strands into exercise.

Govind Menon’s score furnishes varied emotions that resonates with the mood and amplifies it, in mesmerizing fashion.

– The debutant Prem Kumar ‘s direction that is devoid of the traditional technique of melodrama. This maturity is perhaps the greatest strength of the movie.

If you Scout through, you would get enough moments that would demand one. But the director has found resort in keeping it real, keeping it silent and sometimes even bypassing the background score. All these, without lowering the emotional quotient.

I can even remember those few moments, when the sound design transitions into deep silence, but only to enhance the mood.

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My tiny little complaint about the movie would be about its editing – Well this is a subjective thought. There were many moments where I was yearning to look at RAAM and see what he is going through. Because RAAM he is a bundle of emotions. But the editor had opted to play it completely on JAANU, whose emotions we know already.

Even the second half of the second half appears a little stretched, might leave a few audience in restless state.

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BOTTOM-LINE

Prem Kumar has given us a beautiful romantic drama that is devoid of melodrama and proves us the fact that “old school” love stories are still relevant and if done right, can cast magic.

Vijay Sethupathi continues to choose his roles right and Trisha returns to the screen with the charm that makes us fall in love with her – all over again.

96 should be your go-to movie this weekend, if you have a thing for romantic stories.

PS: My Awe for the movie could also be because of my nostalgia.

 

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