24 Kisses movie cast: Adith Arun, Hebah Patel, Rao Ramesh
24 Kisses movie director: Ayodhya Kumar Krishnamsetty
24 Kisses rating: 2 stars
Director Ayodhya Kumar Krishnamsetty was widely appreciated for his debut film Minugurulu (2012), which told the story of a 13-year-old orphan boy who aspires to be a filmmaker. His new film, 24 Kisses, follows an ambitious 28-year-old filmmaker, who aspires to make a film on malnourished and underprivileged children.
In a sense, Anand Kumar (Adith Arun) of 24 Kisses is the grown-up version of Raju of Minugurulu. The protagonist, Anand, has achieved his ambition of becoming a full-time filmmaker but struggles to find financial help to tell the stories of underfed children as he is told it won’t sell at the box office. But, that’s not the main story here. It just gives an outline of the hero’s compassionate personality. It is just a plot device to draw a halo around the hero so that leading lady Sree Lakshmi (Hebah Patel) gets a reason to fall for him. “My daughter fell in love with you because of your humanity (in spite of your weak purse),” Lakshmi’s progressive father (VK Naresh) tells Anand while sitting on a park bench.
Krishnamsetty directly cuts to the chase, instead of wasting time in warming up the audience, by devising a few cute scenes. Lakshmi sort of idolizes Anand as she also wants to be a filmmaker. She develops a strong feeling for him while attending his filmmaking workshops. And Anand, who is a fan of casual hookups, laps up Lakshmi’s ‘uninhibited’ romantic attention. Krishnamsetty has woven a flimsy story link between the myth of 24 kisses and Lakshmi’s affection for Anand. A bibliobibuli, the term applies to those who read too much (thanks Shashi Tharoor), convinces her that if she shares 24 kisses with Anand, they both can live together happily-ever-after. To keep the count, Lakshmi buys a rose every time she is kissed. And the couple take an awfully long time to reach 23. The rumors have it that Romeo and Juliet hit the target in 24 hours.
Anand is content and happy to be in a relationship with Lakshmi as long as it is noncommittal. But he develops cold feet when he is told to name the relationship he has with Lakshmi. And the 24th kiss goes into cold storage and so does their relationship. Krishnamsetty seems to be of the opinion that it is what millennials want: physical intimacy sans responsibility. At least until they have a breakdown from loneliness.
The entire movie plays out like a dream without a proper beginning or a definite ending. We see the majority of the movie in flashbacks narrated by Anand, while speaking to his shrink Murthi, played by Ramesh Rao. So why does he need a therapist? I guess he has anger issues or he really doesn’t have anyone else in his life who can hear him speak without billing him by the hour. Or maybe he has the tendency to push away people who offer him some real emotions. Whatever the case, he needed a funny-looking Murthi to tell him that he is in love and he should acknowledge his feelings for Lakshmi.
The structure of 24 Kisses feels so bleak and half-baked. It serves no purpose. In spite of all its progressive motifs, the film falls back on the conventional ideas of relationships and womanhood. Krishnamsetty should have known better than assuming that having the lead couple kiss 24 times on screen won’t automatically make his film look progressive. It takes a bit more than that. A good story and a clear vision to bring it alive on the big screen. Hiring decent screenwriters would be a start.
Cinematographer Uday Gurrala’s frames give a fairytale tone to the romantic comedy, which desires to reflect on ‘Love Aaj Kal’. In a way, it is a ‘Cocktail’ of nearly all new-age romantic-comedies of Saif Ali Khan.