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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Dear Zindagi – A Detailed Analysis

 

It’s been long since I have written a detailed analysis of any movie – could be because none of the watch was motivating enough for me to write or could be that I haven’t watched some of the best movies that got released in the recent past.

“Dear Zindagi” – The latest offering from Gauri Shinde, stands as a testimony for the earlier accolades that she had received for her first outing – “English Vinglish”.

Being an ad filmmaker that she is, it’s for sure that every frame of the movie would be tidy – spick and span, Abundance of light and props only adding to the aesthetic decorum.

The movie might not be inspired from them, but it does remind you of “Good will hunting” and “Dead Poet’s Society” in parts.

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Plot:

The movie revolves around the life of a female cinematographer Kaira (the loveable Alia), going through a phase of “Distress and Desperation” and how she, with the help of a psychiatrist Dr Jehangir Khan (our dear SRK) manages to overcome it.

It’s this very one lined plot of the movie, which manages to strike a chord with the audience with it’s personal touch.

“Phase of distress and desperation” is bound to visit everyone’s life, every now and then. The unwelcomed guest that it is, it does no gender biasing – treating men and women alike. That said, even I am not spared.

It’s highly improbable to prevent its visit, but what you could certainly do is – Mastering the art of getting yourselves out of it, as soon as you get into it.

At the surface layer it would appear that “Dear Zindagi” is trying to give life lessons on how you could help yourselves get out of the phase. But what it does in real is, asking us to identify our own specific ways of overcoming the distress.

Everyone has his/her sources of distress – job, love life, family, economy, social stigma etc. For Kaira, it’s her failed relationships and a childhood deprived of parental love.

Some of us are Kaira, some of us are Jehangir Khan and some of us are both of them. I think, audience identifying themselves with either or both these characters, is Gauri’s biggest victory as a writer and filmmaker

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Performances:

Time and again, Alia has reminded us that she is one of the best actresses that we have got. This movie is no exception. Wide range of emotions that she has brought on the screen, seemingly natural and pulled off with so much of an ease, proves her mettle as a brilliant actress.

Nothing could be more delighting than watching Shahrukh in such performance oriented roles – maintaining a good hand distance from his stardom. I can’t speak for others, but as a die-hard fan of his, I found him excellent in this role.

Angad and Kunal manage to impress in their brief appearances.

Yashaswini as Jackie, is also someone who might stay in your mind for quite some time, for her cute performance.

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MUSIC:

Amit Trivedi has worked magic with some of those numbers – that have shades of his earlier works in Lootera.

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WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN IMPROVED?

It’s of my personal opinion that the cinematographer part of her character has not been effectively written/ brought out. Several forced “superficial” elements put in to justify the cinematographer aspect. But that hasn’t done the movie any damage.

Her “childhood deprived of love” could have been much effectively depicted.

I don’t know if it exists for real – but the melodramatic family that she has including her uncle and aunt, appear far from real. I would discount that, considering it to be a creative liberty taken to entertain the audience.

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Bottom line:

You “might” like this movie, if you have loved – Good Will Hunting, Dead Poet’s society, Highway, Devil Wears Prada, Wake up Sid.

I wouldn’t say that every one of you might love the movie – A family that sat next to me, had their fair share of complaints.

But it’s certainly one the beautiful cinemas that I happened to watch in the recent past.

For the love towards SRK and for the love of Cinema…….!

-Chan