Review – 24 (2016)

’24’ by Vikram K Kumar is essentially a family drama centered around the idea of time-travel. However, the film also includes elements of romance, action and thrills in ample measures, even though the bulk of the screen time is spent on emphasizing the significance of familial bonds (Appa-Amma-Thaatha-Maama-Maami and so on).

The director, who recently made the Telugu drama ‘Manam’ still seems slightly hungover from it. He has proven that he loves playing with the concept of time (13B, Manam). But the surprise in the screenplay here comes in the form of sci-fi elements. Tamil cinema (and Suriya himself of course!) has been churning out many sci-fi thrillers in recent times (Enthiran, Dashavathaaram, 7aum Arivu, Maattraann, Anegan, Indru Netru Naalai to name a few). Some of these were characterized by an overdone formulaic story replete with masala, while a few of them stood out for their innovative screenplays and seamless blend of sci-fi with other genres.

’24’ marks a return to the sci-fi genre for Suriya. Hats off to the man for taking up this expensive and ambitious project after many a recent failure (Maasss, Anjaan, Maattraann, 7aum Arivu) and funding it himself. I will not shy away from saying that the production values look top-notch and the CGI is mostly sans notable flaws. The sets boast of decorative extravagance and are mostly a treat to the eyes, at times resembling the lavishness of Shankar films. The cinematography by Tirru is nothing short of spectacular in the initial portions. It would also warrant special mention that different color-tones are attributed to different characters with respect to their portrayal in the film. For instance, the intelligent, yet tender (and at times, clumsy) Dr. Sethuraman (Suriya) and his wife (played by Nithya Menen in an extended cameo) gleam in lighter shades (of golden yellow) while his evil brother Aathreya is burnished in darker shades (of brown).

The story is really not that path-breaking to be honest but still holds narrative interest owing to the director’s firm grip on attention levels of the audience, by way of utilizing its star lead’s boyish charm during the romantic interludes, as well as a welcome change of seeing him play the character of a psychotic antagonist. Aathreya wants his brother’s time-travelling device (which happens to be a watch) by hook or by crook and is even willing to murder his brother and his family for the same. Suriya depicts the antagonist Aathreya in a style of his own and the actor seemingly looks like he had fun doing so. The devilish grin and the plain stares are placed at apt junctures by the actor. Suriya, the romantic charmer that he is, uses his potential to the maximum in the scenes with Samantha, although, however cute they may look initially, start to wear out and eventually end up bland. The romance is underplayed in the first half, with Mani (son of Dr. Sethuraman, again played by Suriya) using his time-travel watch to woo Sathya through various instances of play-pause-repeat. “I’m a watch mechanic madam, enakku ithellaam sarva sadhaaranamaana vishayam” is a line that brings both laughs and shrugs. Some of the wooing methods deployed here are fun to watch though, and this makes the first half a mildly entertaining affair. The amazing opening segment as well as intriguing interval block are admittedly where the writer-director scores brownie points.

The film slows down considerably in initial portion of the second half with family sentiments (even though Saranya Ponvannan is consistently marvellous at her job of exuding maternal warmth!) and downright-silly romance segments thrown in simply for the purpose of extending the run-time. Thankfully, it does not take too long for the sci-fi element to bounce back and take its rightful position in the film and the viewer is rewarded with a feel-good (rather feel-great!) climax. However, it needs be bluntly accepted before and after watching the film that a lot of it works purely on coincidences rather than logic or situational coherence.

A R Rahman’s music+BGM is certainly a plus-factor although personally, I am of the opinion that a sci-fi film would be much better off without so many song-n-dance routines. If you, as a viewer, are able to forego these minor masalaic tropes and are okay with a run-time of 160 mins (editing dept. could have done better!), then you are in for a decently satisfying sci-fi treat!

*** stars out of five

Watch the trailer here:

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