24: Playing with time

Suriya in '24'  

Director Vikram Kumar showed his knack to pull off a complex storyline with Manam, marked by convenient coincidences and logic-defying sequences strung together to result in an unbelievable, yet enjoyable film. While you soak in the fun, you are also left exclaiming ‘Oh really?’ In 24, his bi-lingual science fiction, Vikram shows remarkable growth as a storyteller and filmmaker. With a flair for writing, he pulls off awe-inducing sequences. This one, too, has a complex storyline.

Giving wings to Vikram’s dream is actor-producer Suriya, in three roles. Their leap of faith is backed by a good team, be it the art direction (Amit and Subrata), visual effects, Tirru’s cinematography or A.R. Rahman’s music.

The world that this team has created has at its core a scientist attempting time travel, a twin who wants control over that gadget and a son who discovers the watch 26 years later. Suriya essays all three roles with aplomb. He’s a charmer as Mani, the watch mechanic, and sends a chill down your spine as the dark, dubious Athreya. The actor has delivered commendable performances in the past, but he breaks new ground with 24.

Genre: Science Fiction
Director: Vikram Kumar
Cast:Suriya, Samantha, Nithya Menen and Ajay
Music: A.R. Rahman Storyline: If you had the ability to travel back in time, can you change destinies?

Mani, who chances upon the key to time travel, repairs watches for a living. His store is artistically done up, and he talks like watches mean the world to him. Of course it does, as he discovers later. Mani doesn’t dream big, is content with the love showed on him by his foster mother Saranya (she is a treat to watch). There’s a small wooden box that the two have had since he was a child, but unable to open it. By sheer luck, the key to the box lands on Mani’s table. This element of luck is hard to accept and as you struggle to give into that cinematic liberty, Mani discovers the possibility of time travel.

What follows is the film’s best segment, with Mani indulging in small experiments to travel back by a few minutes, hours, freeze time and change the course of events. You give in to the suspension of disbelief as he touches the rain drops hanging in the air and scurries past the world around him that remains standstill. All along, A.R. Rahman works his magic through the background score and leads to the terrific ‘kaalam na preyasi’. This is why you go to the movies, to give in to its magic.

There’s a girl in the picture — played by Samantha — who becomes a sitting duck for Mani’s pranks. He uses the time freeze technique to make her believe she has ‘imagino romance philia’. It’s fun initially, but it’s overdone and the romantic segment becomes the weakest portion of the film. Samantha looks bewitching and does her part with grace, but her role doesn’t require her to do much besides providing comic relief. There’s a glimmer of hope as she stumbles upon something crucial. But that potential is lost as the filmmaker uses yet another time travel segment to change the sequence of things.

24 is laudable for its attempt to take Indian mainstream cinema a step ahead. The lead actor and technical team apart, there’s good support from other pivotal characters including Ajay. Nithya Menen is a delight in a brief role and renders the lullaby ‘Lalijo’ beautifully.

24 also leaves unanswered questions. Why did Athreya want the time travel device initially? What made him evil? What happens to the ‘present’ characters had time travel not changed their fate? Vikram wants you to trust in the time travel and forgo the present. The biggest leap of faith happens towards the end when Vikram compels the audience to give in to the possibility of a different version of the tale. This is a film that merits a discussion after viewing and that’s not a bad thing. How often do we get such films?

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Printable version | Apr 20, 2021 8:22:28 AM |

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