Science Fiction has been a genre in the rut in India since the inception of cinema. Films like Shree, Love Story 2050, and Action Replayy have taken it further down with their insipid and horrendous storytelling, tacky special effects and brain-cancer inducing performences. Thus the expectations are never high from Indian science fiction films. Thankfully, the latest Tamil film 24 starring Suriya is miles better than any of the Science fiction films to have come out in India in quite few years. The last film better than this was Rajni’s Robot or to some extent Vikram’s I, both of which were directed by S. Shankar. The trailers made it clear that the film involved a watch and it involved time travel too with atleast three versions of Suriya on display but what the trailer didn’t reveal was the superb twists and turns and almost perfect rendering of the science fiction element in the tale.
The story revolves around Sethuraman, a watch scientist who builds a watch that can teleport you back and forth in time. His evil brother Athreya attacks him to get that watch. After a sensational fight sequence, Sethuraman and his wife are killed by Athreya while Sethuraman is able to save his infant son and the watch successfully from Athreya and tricks him into jumping off a running train. Years later, Sethu’s son Mani has grown up to be gifted watch mechanic and a chance discovery of his father’s invention sets him en-route to facing his past and discovering his father’s legacy. Athreya too has survived the jump and is crippled waist down. He also comes back to get the watch, travel back in time and change the series of events that made him the way he is now.
24 is a superbly acted film. Suriya leads from the front. He essays three different characters and excels in all the roles. However his act as Athreya is the best. The dude is crippled to a chair but is fearsome. The posture and his mannerism make you believe that he is actually the jilted cripple that he portrays and his hatred for Mani and Sethu feel very real. Interestingly Suriya feels extremely real even in the comic sequences. Samantha Ruth Prabhu is cute as his love interest and does her part flawlessly. The romantic sequences garner value and beauty because of her act. Saranya Ponvannan is gorgeous in her act as Mani’s adopted mother. She exudes so much authority and warmth in her role that it is difficult not to like her character. No one else makes that much of an impact as the film is solely dependent on the three faceted act of Suriya.
24 is beautifully shot. I haven’t seen too many films in the recent past that look as plush as 24. The colors are highly saturated and ravishing. Loads of slow motion and freeze frame motions are used and used with aplomb. The action and the chase sequences are done organically. I was blown away by the two sequences that happen in the past and involve Sethuraman and Athreya. The action sequence at Phoenix Watch Company is also done superbly. The film also boasts of some very well-choreographed song and dance routines. However I felt that the last song just before the film shifts its gear for the last time was ill timed and was not warranted.
Apart from the great visuals and the superb performance of Suriya, 24 has a gripping screenplay and a more than interesting story. It does suspend believability at many junctures and that we tend to associate with science fiction films but does enough to atleast keep us believing in the story, narrative and the characters. In doing so it helps us to enjoy the narrative and also take the characters seriously. The action is organic and is not used as mare pieces of props and pulls. The romance is genuine and blossoms in a way that can be fathomed. The villain is ravishing and fearful. Even in his discrepancies, he is fearsome. The fearfulness of his character only makes the duels between him and the hero that much more tense and gripping. The final end of the villain is befitting and strangely enough tags the first scene of the film to the last showing an uncanny characteristic of time that says that what is supposed to happen always happens.
Overall, 24 is a highly entertaining film that can be watched multiple times purely because of the performances, action, story and the visuals. I enjoyed it thoroughly and I believe that will be the case with you too.
Rating : 3.5/5 (3.5 out of 5 Stars)