Time travelling has always been a fascinating prospect among man’s limitless imaginations and Vikram Kumar has done a neat job in visualising this imagination in his fifth film ‘24’.
A majority of the Hollywood films released under the sci-fi category would go into the trash box if people applied logic, so let’s conveniently leave logic outside while entering for this one-off south Indian sci-fi.
Suriya, who always seems to have an affinity for sci-fi movies evident in his involvement with disappointing films like ‘7aum arivu’, ‘Maattraan’ and ‘Masss’, portrays three different roles in ‘24’, of which the antagonist’s role ‘Athreya’ is one that reveals the unexplored dimension of this actor, who was on the verge of being typified as a romantic hero.
The opening sequence of the movie revealing the laboratory of Sethuraman (Suriya) in an old bungalow in the midst of a forest itself gives an impression about the movie’s technical superiority and the cinematographer’s prowess in conceptualising visuals. The movie is engaging right from the start when Sethuraman, a scientist, completes a dream project called ’24’, a very powerful scientific watch that lets people break from the concept of time and allows them to travel between the past and future. But Sethuraman’s eureka moment doesn’t last long when his elder brother ‘Athreya’, a devil sibling arrives with a killer rage to claim Sethuraman’s invention. Before being killed by his own brother, Sethu manages to save his son and the time machine, while ‘Athreya’ gets seriously injured himself. The movie then moves 26 years forward where Sethu’s baby child ‘Mani’ (Suriya) has become a charming young man and the time machine which came along with Mani from Athreya’s clutches, is now a useless box in Mani’s watch repair shop. Without wasting time, the movie through some intolerable events of coincidence manages to open the box in which Sethu’s time machine was sleeping for all these years. From then on, the movie plays with the concept of time as Mani experiments with this 24 hour bound time machine with a child’s enthusiasm. The movie picks up pace with the entry of ‘Athreya’ again.
Director Vikram Kumar needs to be applauded for handling such a complex multi-layered screenplay without creating much confusion in the viewer’s mind. Vikram has worked his creative abilities to the best, especially in the scenes where Mani first realises that he is possessing a time machine with highly manipulating powers. The scene where Mani freezes time and cherishes the rain drops that got suspended between heaven and earth is refreshing. The only time when the director has over done the theme to an absurd extent is when Mani woos his love interest Sathya (Samantha) using the time machine. ‘Naan oru watch mechanic, enikkithellam sahajam’(I am a watch mechanic, all this is usual for me) is a dialogue that sounds funny at first, but becomes unbearably repetitive after a point.
Samantha, is nothing but another routine female depiction in south Indian movies, who does not have any option other than to fall for the hero’s tricks, while Sharanya does the typical Tamil mother in her usual care-free witty approach. Suriya’s ‘Athreya’ will be a role to remember for the actor in years to come as he never dropped the intensity while enacting the devilish villain role, be it the wicked smile or the bone-chilling stare. A R Rahman’s background score blended perfectly with the scenes, especially when Mani’s wonderstruck mind was seeking answers about the mysterious watch, but Rahman seems to have lost his magic when it comes to the songs.
The climax is another point where the director seems to have worked hard to bring the best outcome. As the movie opens up a wide range of possibilities for a conclusion, Vikram Kumar chose the best option that provides a whole new perspective about the movie and also about time riddled life through the climax.