Time travel is a relatively less explored concept in Telugu cinema. While there are a plethora of films about romance, the number of South Indian films that are about time travel, and science fiction in general, is still very low (Aditya 360 comes to mind). This explains why there was so much buzz around Suriya’s latest bilingual release, 24, a film that promised a thrilling adventure with a time travelling watch, a genius scientist and his evil twin brother, and a frivolous romance between the lead pair.
Katha, Screenplay, Darsakathvam
I don’t believe in spoiling the plot of a film before watching it. If you haven’t seen the movie yet and would like to know the plot, you can read more about it here.
After watching the trailer of 24, I had a feeling the romantic thread between Sathya (Samantha) and Mani (Suriya) would be the weakest link in the movie and I was right. The romance between the lead pair has little to offer, which is unfortunate since the movie focuses a good portion of the run time on developing it. While it is tied well into the story and Samantha and Suriya do have good chemistry on screen, the scenes should have either been kept to a minimum or been developed with better dialogue and comedy. It is surprising that these scenes are almost boring considering Vikram Kumar also directed Ishq and Manam, which are both successful romantic and family entertainers, prior to this film.
Where 24 really excels is in the suspense and action sequences. Athreya (Suriya) is a mesmerizing villain and I think the movie could have benefited from more focus on the interaction between Athreya and Mani than on the romance between Mani and Sathya.
Because the audience of 24 isn’t really used to the concept of science fiction films, 24 could have also been enhanced with explanations of some of the concepts that are utilized in the movie. For example, it is never explained why the watch loses battery when it does or what the watch runs on. It isn’t necessary to go into detail, but if these aspects of the science fiction are going to affect the outcome of the plot, then they should at least be mentioned to some extent.
Suriya is a renowned and versatile performer; he’s already established his talent in acting with films like Ghajini and Surya s/o Krishnan. In this film, he plays three very different roles: Dr. Sethuraman, the brilliant, yet weak scientist who invents the watch, Mani, a watch mechanic, and Athreya, the evil brother of Dr. Sethuraman who craves power over time. Suriya also plays Athreya in two different stages of time: as the younger, energetic leader and as the vengeful criple. While Suriya masterfully differentiates the three characters and shines as each, Athreya clearly takes the forefront as his emotions and actions are just simply powerful. It is a treat to watch the power play between Mani and Athreya in the movie, even though they are both played by the same actor.
Samantha has a decent amount of screen time in the film but her role as Sathya is almost inconsequential; we know little about the character, other than her connection to Mani as his love interest. She does well for her scope in the film and makes a good pair with Suriya for the songs and romanctic sequences.
Nithya Menen hasn’t been doing major roles in films recently and I’m confused as to why this is, because she has already proven that she is a great performer. In 24, she plays Dr. Sethuraman’s wife and, though her screen time is limited, her presence still manages to elevate the film. She also sang the the beautiful lullaby, Laalijo, for the film.
Ajay is adequate as Mithran, Athreya’s henchman and partner in crime, but I wish we could have also learned more about him and his connection to Athreya. Saranya is delightful as Sathyabama, Mani’s mother, and the emotional sequences between her and Suriya are definitely a bonus to the film and help move the stagnant plot forward in the second half of the film. Everyone else is fairly adequate in their roles.
A. R. Rahman provided another powerful soundtrack for this film and the music blends really well with its style and concept. All of the songs work really well on-screen, with Kaalam Na Preyasi and Prema Swaramulalo being two of my favorites. The others might require a couple of listens initially, but are also just as good in their own right. As always, Rahman’s intense background score for this movie is also on point.
A cinematographer with many credits to his name and who is also working on Jr. NTR’s next film Janatha Garage, Tirru did a splendid job for this film as all of the visuals are strikingly attractive. Whether its the lab or the train or the beautiful scenery of the songs, all of the scenes are, at the very least, a pleasure to watch on the big screen. One of the fascinating scenes to note would be the pause of rain droplets when Mani discovers the feature on his watch.
While it seems slow and taxing at some points, 24 provides a suspenseful and action-filled journey in time with three wonderful performances from Suriya and the music and visuals that befit the start of a franchise. If they do make a sequel, let’s hope they skip more of the commercial formula elements and delve deeper into the concept and compelling characters that make 24 worth the watch.
[NEW] Parents' Verdict
While children may enjoy the concept of this film, there are some plot points that they may not be able to follow and a few limited, yet violent scenes that can be bloody and gruesome to watch.
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