We all remember that one boy or girl from our class who literally touched all the crevices of our heart only to go different ways after completing school. We all also remember the feeling of loss of first love when there was no way for us to reconnect with that first love that was born behind the four walls of a classroom and died on the desk of the classroom with nothing but a doodle with our names. Vijay Sethupathi and Trisha's romance drama 96 explores these classroom walls, the desperation to want to see the 'one and only' and circumstantial loss that was justified.
The film kicks off with Vijay Sethupathi aka K Ramachandran taking over the entire screen with his salt and pepper beard and long hair set in a sleek look. He carries his camera and takes off on a journey of finding beauty in the world. He is a travel photographer by profession and he sure is a good one. During one of his quests, his car takes him to Thanjavur, the place where he grew and where his love for Trisha aka Janu (Janaki Devi) actualised. Entering his school takes him through a journey of nostalgia within his mind that results in him asking his friends for a reunion. Well, the rest is him, spending the last few hours with his first love, until he bids her adieu.
Vijay Sethupathi's transformation from a daredevil photographer to a puny mouse after seeing his first love walk the lawn where the reunion takes place is class apart! He turns into the same 15-year-old boy who fell in love with Janu (lovingly called by everyone). Their behaviour as 15-year-olds upon seeing each other after 22 years worries their friends. "We did the right thing, right?" they wonder. "Nothing wrong would happen tonight, right?" Their concerns grow. However, despite that, the duo continue to unravel answers over what went wrong, what could've gone right, the what if's and but's constantly take over their mind. 96 Trailer: Trisha – Vijay Sethupathi’s Chemistry and Govind Vasantha’s Music Composition Makes This Romantic Tale Heartwarming – Watch Video
Speaking of their school time together, we are taken back to the year '94, when they first fell in love and the last time they were ever together. The constant shift in the frame from '94 to present day to '97 to present day invokes Virginia Wolfe's, Mrs Dalloway. The book entails Mrs Dalloway's present life while her heart lives in the past, in the arms of the one love that got away. The flashbacks in the film teamed with the impeccable music offer poignance to every frame and scene. They touch upon each and every subject about each other while they spend the last few hours together.
"Are you still here?" "Are you still around?" asks Janu on the phone call to K Ramachandran after he drops her at her hotel. He says, "I'm right where you left me," this scene literally gives the chills. The symbolism is a testament to how K Ramachandran hasn't really moved on and has held a room for his first love to be his last. The music further elevates the experience of each and every scene. Govind Vasantha lives the moment on the screen by adding his compositions that don't fail leave an impression on the audience.
- Vijay Sethupathi's impeccable screen presence!
- Trisha's ability to match up with her co-star's mindblowing performance.
- The use of symbolism to emphasise each and every frame.
- Melodies of the past films churned out beautifully by composer Govind Vasantha.
- Director Prem Kumar's idealistic vision
- Engaging cinematography curated by Shanmuga Sundaram.
- Strong and entertaining supporting cast that includes Devadarshini and Bagavathi Perumal
- Lacks pace.
- Unwanted highlighting of scenes that don't yield significance.
- Parts and spaces during a scene that is hollow and empty.
Vijay Sethupathi and Trisha's emotive standalone moments bring so much brilliance on the screen that it definitely deserves to be applauded by an audience. The cast chosen to play every character including the younger versions of Janaki and K Ramachandran is phenomenal. The music really gets to you as the scenes leave a mark of excellence. The movie is curated for romantics who believe in soulmates. Yes, the movie should definitely be on your 'watch list' this weekend!