It may not blow you over but it isn’t a waste of time either.

24 review Suriya plays typical male scientist as time stands still for Tamil heroines
Flix Cinema Sunday, May 08, 2016 - 10:38

Cast: Suriya, Samantha, Saranya Ponvannan

Director: Vikram Kumar

The scientist, in popular culture, has barely evolved from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. He (yes, he remains a he) is busy in his lab meddling with nature and universal truths. And though he might be full of good intentions – like John Hammond in Jurassic Park or Dr.Vaseegaran in Endhiran – his invention ends up creating havoc and lands him in unpleasant situations, to say the least. 24 falls in line with this tradition.

Sethuraman (Suriya) invents a watch that can enable the wearer to travel in time. His evil twin, Athreya (Suriya), desperately wants to grab it from him. We don’t really know why though. The evil twin bursts into the scene out of the blue, unleashes violence upon Sethuraman’s family and…well, let’s leave it at that. We don’t know much about the two brothers and why they turned out to be so different from each other.

Fast forward to 26 years later. It’s the year 2016 and Mani (Suriya), is a watch mechanic in Parrys (we’re never allowed to forget this even for a second, by the way). He is destined to find the watch that his father, Sethuraman, left him. But his diabolical uncle is still looking for it – only this time, he does have a strong motive for wanting it.

If you excuse the quibbles, the plotting is near-perfect and the concept of time travel, which can be pretty confusing, has been explained through lively sequences that are neither a forced Physics lecture nor an insult to the audience’s intelligence. In any case, there isn’t much science in 24 – the geeky Sethuraman in his strange ‘lab’ full of bubbling, iridescent liquids and crazy contraptions is straight out of a comic book (I suspect that Vikram Kumar is a Tinkle fan) and in the latter half, the ‘scientific’ solution that Mani comes up with to resolve a crucial problem is wonky. But who cares. The fast-paced narrative with its twists and turns is entertaining and has sufficient got-you moments to keep you from looking at your watch impatiently.

Suriya plays three roles in this film and he is best at being the happy-go-lucky Mani. As Sethuraman, he is convincing and as Athreya, he is sufficiently creepy but not quite who-is-the-black-sheep-mehhh chilling.

Saranya Ponvannan, as Mani’s mother, is excellent. By now, she can probably sleepwalk through these mummy roles but full marks to her for bringing dignity to the maudlin lines that she’s been given. Samantha plays Mani’s love interest, Sathyabama. Mani’s mother laments that there’s nobody at home to sit her down, cook and feed her. And that’s the cue for Sathyabama’s entry. Oh boy, has time stood still for the Tamil heroine!

The masala romance bits in the film work for the most part though much of it would qualify as gaslighting and stalking. Samantha doesn’t have much to do in the film other than doing cutesy things like feeding children in an orphanage and using unnecessary hand gestures but well, that’s what every heroine in Kollywood seems to be doing. I’m really curious to look into the future and see if this ever changes.

Nithya Menen makes a brief appearance as Sethuraman’s wife and does a competent job. The rest of the cast is adequate. AR Rahman’s background score complements the narrative but the songs are a bit of a let-down. Or maybe they will grow on you as is often the case with his music! Overall, 24 is a good effort and worth a watch. It may not blow you over but it isn’t a waste of time either. 

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