But the movie is as a lot Janu’s story as it’s Ram’s. She enters the image considerably late, however within the second half, it’s, in actual fact, Janu’s actions that nudge the plot ahead. We even get a cute story on why she is called Janaki.
The first half of 96 faucets into nostalgia to depart us with a excessive that solely completely satisfied associations with our previous can evoke. But the movie doesn’t resort to emotional manipulation to realize this, however somewhat does so by narrating its story organically. We get a superbly narrated teenage romance between Ram and Janu that’s intercut with moments within the current involving the reunion of childhood associates. And the movie makes use of Ilaiyaraaja songs in a novel approach to improve this nostalgia.
It is barely within the second half that Prem Kumar resorts to cinematic plot units. These parts unfold as occasions that occur throughout one night time, and largely contain the conversations between Ram and Janu — why they by no means linked, what has occurred of their lives through the previous 22 years, and the emotions that they (nonetheless) have for one another. This set-up recollects an identical one in Before Sunset. There is even a time restrict to their reunion, for one among them has a flight to catch as in that movie.
We get scenes which can be clearly a operate of the plot — the occasions explaining why Ram and Janu by no means bought in contact after their separation regardless of being head over heels in love with one another, Janu forcing Ram to get a haircut, or the way in which she is with him in his home… these don’t really feel as credible as the sooner parts. And in a movie the place the storytelling is essentially natural, these really feel like jarring false notes. Even right here, we get a terrific second that acts as an exquisite pay-off to a set-up involving the track Yamunai Aatrile. Plus, the swish notes, like Govind Vasantha’s evocative music, Mahendran Jayaraju and Shanmuga Sundaram’s cinematography that appears like a love letter to night-time Chennai — are far too many who they greater than compensate for this minor flaw.
And the forged is great. Right from youthful actors like Devadarshini, Bagavathi Perumal, Aadukalam Murugadoss, who seem as Ram and Janu’s associates, to seniors Janagaraj and Kavithalaya Krishnan, who seem in cameos, the casting feels spot on. The actors who play the youthful Ram and Janu — Adithya Bhaskar and Gouri Kishan — are equally good. As for the lead actors, there’s a lighter second when Janu asks Ram if he’s a virgin, and calls him an “aambala naatukatta”. The reactions of Vijay Sethupathi and Trisha on this one scene are a pattern of their incredible chemistry. Their understated performances complement Prem Kumar’s storytelling lyricism, and creates magic.