Cast: Izabelle Liete,Mehak Manwani,Wamiqa Gabbi,Highphill Mathew,Keith Sequeira
Director: Raj Purohit
The Indian Express rating: ***
Sometimes you go in with zero advance knowledge of the film,and it surprises you. Sixteen does exactly that,giving you a bunch of mostly well-to-do Delhi-based 16 year olds,and their brand of confused,teenage angst,observed with a fair degree of sharpness and humour.
These are young people in 4G mode,constantly on their cell-phones,exploring their sexual selves,living parallel lives in school and at home,trying to make sense of the world around them. Tanisha (Gabbi) lives with her youthful,single aunt,and looks upon a slightly older man (Sequeira) who has moved in as a tenant with a clear-eyed amusement. Arre,uncle hai,she tells her pals,but the film takes us to an interesting place between Mehek and the said uncle. Nidhi (Manwani) is her papas darling and likes to take it slow,not wanting to be pushed into non-virgin-hood,just because her pushy boyfriend cant wait. Anu (Liete) comes from a home which doesnt really give her a familial,comforting cushion,leaving her to fend for herself. And Ashwin (Mathew) comes from a slightly less well-off background,with a father who wants him to breach the IAS wall,regardless of the cost to his son.
While the film does stretch,and becomes slightly stagey in places (Ashwins track that takes him away from Delhi after a tragedy,and dumps him in a place where crime is his only recourse,fumbles),most of Sixteen seems true to its subjects,and subject. The girls are especially well-drawn,getting better lines and situations than the boys/men. And the lines seem true to life. This is pretty much how the young are: slangy,smart-alecky and uncaring of authority,though you do wonder if the young female of a certain privileged metro background should be comfortable slinging about the word b—c. Or is it just an address,not invective?
There is heartbreak,and heartache here,minus exaggeration. And some life-affirming scenes,even if the film nearly ends on a lecture about how 16-year-olds can be the most misunderstood breed. This Sixteen is slight,but stays fresh and honest for the most part.