'96 (film)

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'96
96 Tamil poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byC. Premkumar
Produced byS. Nanthagopal
Written byC. Premkumar
Starring
Music byGovind Vasantha
Cinematography
  • Mahendiran Jayaraju
  • N. Shanmuga Sundaram
Edited byR. Govindaraj
Production
company
Madras Enterprises
Distributed bySeven Screen Studio
Khafa Exports (Overseas)
Release date
  • 4 October 2018 (2018-10-04)
Running time
158 minutes[1]
CountryIndia
LanguageTamil
Budget18 crore[2]

'96 is a 2018 Indian Tamil-language romantic drama film written and directed by C. Premkumar, starring Vijay Sethupathi and Trisha in lead roles.[3] The film revolves around, two high school sweethearts from the batch of 1996 who meet at a reunion, 22 years after they parted.[4] Bagavathi Perumal, Devadarshini and Aadukalam Murugadoss appear in supporting roles. Produced by S. Nanthagopal of Madras Enterprises, the film was distributed by Lalit Kumar under his banner Seven Screen Studio. Principal photography was commenced on 12 June 2017 at Kumbakonam.

The cinematography was handled by Mahendiran Jayaraju and N. Shanmuga Sundaram and editing was handled by R. Govindaraju, while the costumes were designed by Subhashree Karthik Vijay, in which the yellow kurta outfit designed for Trisha's character became popular.[5][6] The music and background score of the film were composed by Govind Vasantha, and the lyrics for the songs were written by Karthik Netha and Umadevi. The soundtrack album received applause from critics and it was considered as one of the best soundtracks of the year.[7]

'96 was released worldwide on 4 October 2018 and performed well at the box-office.[8] The film won several accolades at several nominations. At the 2018 Filmfare Awards South, the film won five awards, including Best Actor and Best Actress.[9] Trisha won two awards for Best Actress at two nominations, Ananda Vikatan Cinema Awards and Norway Tamil Film Festival Awards. The film was nominated for several categories at Edison Awards, but did not receive a win.[10] The film was remade by Preetham Gubbi in Kannada as 99 (2019), and by Premkumar himself in Telugu as Jaanu (2020).

Plot[edit]

Ramachandran aka Ram (Vijay Sethupathi) is a travel photographer. He visits his high school and is overcome by memories. So, a reunion is arranged through their school WhatsApp group. At the reunion, his friends Murali (Bagavathi Perumal), Subhashini (Devadarshini) and Sathish (Aadukalam Murugadoss) catch up with him. Murali hesitantly mentions that Jaanu (Ram's childhood sweetheart) is coming from Singapore.

In 1996, Ram and Jaanu have been friends and classmates in 10th grade. Jaanu is a talented singer. Ram develops a love for Jaanu and she reciprocates. Once their board exams are over, they have a moment with each other where Jaanu asks him not to forget her until they meet again after the holidays.

Jaanu (Trisha) arrives at the reunion and searches for Ram. When Subha points Ram's location to her, Jaanu walks towards him. She reminisces the first day of 11th grade when she eagerly awaits Ram's arrival to the classroom, but he doesn't show up. She finds that Ram has left the school because his father had financial difficulties and his family relocated to Madras overnight. Jaanu is inconsolable and pines for Ram until she completes school.

Ram and Jaanu finally meet and find it uncomfortable to interact with each other, but gradually get along. Their friends talk about Jaanu's married life in Singapore and disclose that Ram is still single and has not moved on. After the reunion party, both go out on a drive. Jaanu reveals how she could not forget Ram and would have traded anything just to have met him once back then. She narrates how circumstances forced her to marry someone else. Then, Ram asks Jaanu if she really does not remember the day he came to her college to meet her. Ram says that he and Murali waited in front of Jaanu's college to meet her and passed on a message through a student. Surprisingly, Jaanu refused to meet Ram and forbade him to contact her again. He returned sadly and never tried to meet her since then. Jaanu is devastated listening to this and reveals that she never saw them at her college and thought it was her stalker who was troubling her. Ram tells that except for the mistake of assuming that she hated him, he knew everything about her life. He also tells about seeing her from afar at her wedding. Jaanu is heartbroken because she felt his presence and expected him to come for her until the last minute. Both feel sad about their misfortune and finally, come to terms with everything that happened in their lives. Jaanu expresses her desire to spend the final few hours with Ram before she catches the flight back home.

They go out into the city and then to a restaurant and catch up on more memories. There, they meet Ram's photography students who assume Jaanu is his wife and request her to share their story. Jaanu obliges and narrates an improvised version of the time when Ram tried to meet Jaanu at her college. She tells about how they finally met and made up and have been together ever since and got married. Ram feels awkward but tries his best to play along. The students leave and Ram and Jaanu get wet in the rain. So he asks her to visit his apartment to freshen up.

At his apartment, Jaanu is visibly upset that Ram does not have a love life and requests him to move on and get married and have a family. She finally sings Ram's favourite song for him, a song that she had purposefully avoided singing in school in spite of his repeated requests. Ram shows Jaanu a collection of their old memories like love poems, dried flowers and their school uniforms. They realize that time is running out and go back to Jaanu's hotel to get ready for her flight in a few hours. Jaanu is sad knowing that she will leave Chennai and Ram very soon. At the airport, Ram escorts her till the boarding gate and they bid a teary farewell. Jaanu then gets into the flight and leaves.

Back at his home, Ram finds Jaanu's clothes that he had put to dry the previous night. He folds them neatly, puts them along with his treasured collection of school memories and shuts the suitcase and screen cuts to black.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

In October 2016, it was first reported that Trisha had agreed to be part of a project opposite Vijay Sethupathi that was to be directed by cinematographer C. Prem Kumar of Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom fame.[11][12] Two months later, Trisha announced the project via her Twitter and revealed the title as 96.[13] Prem Kumar originally had Manju Warrier in mind for the role of Janaki, but he was not able to reach her and was replaced by Trisha.[14]

From May 2017, Prem Kumar first talked about the film, telling that Vijay Sethupathi would play the role of a travel photographer,[15] and that the film revolved around "characters who belong to the same batch – 1996", revealing the meaning of the film's title.[16] Prem Kumar had written the entire script in 20 days in December 2015 during the Chennai floods when he was stuck in his apartment.[17] According to Prem Kumar, the inspiration for the story came from his high school reunion. He missed the reunion but when talking to his classmates who attended the function he became fascinated about two people they were speaking about and began meeting the two and developing a story around their characters.[17] The film's story was originally supposed to happen over a week, before the time span was changed to 24 hours, and eventually to a night.[17]

Casting[edit]

Trisha Krishnan and Vijay Sethupathi at the launch of the Movie '96'.png

The technical crew of the film includes cinematography by N. Shanmuga Sundaram who also did Aandavan Kattalai, music by Govind Vasantha, edited by R. Govindaraj, artwork by Vinoth Raj Kumar and lyrics by Uma Devi and Karthik Netha.[18] The crew was then looking for suitable actors to play the younger versions of Sethupathi and Trisha's characters,[19] which delayed the commencement of principal photography.[20] The team eventually selected Aditya Bhaskar, son of actor M. S. Bhaskar, and Gouri G. Kishan for the roles, both making their acting debuts with '96.[21] Devadharshini's daughter, Niyathi Kadambi, played the younger version of her role. Subhashree Kaarthik Vijay, who was recruited as the costume signer, was a close friend of Prem Kumar and created the look of the lead female character Jaanu based on her own style.[6][22] The team shot a scene where the lead characters meet singer S. Janaki, though this was later deleted from the film. Post-release, the makers uploaded the scene to YouTube.[23]

Filming[edit]

The film finally entered production on 12 June 2017 at Kumbakonam,[24] and wrapped in June 2018.[25]

Soundtrack[edit]

'96
Soundtrack album by
Released24 August 2018
Studio20db studios, Chennai
Seed Studios, Chennai
Rajiv Menon Studio, Chennai
GenreFeature film soundtrack
Length34:37
LanguageTamil
LabelLahari Music
T-Series
ProducerGovind Vasantha
Govind Vasantha chronology
Asuravadham
(2018)
'96
(2018)
Seethakaathi
(2018)
External audio
audio icon Audio Jukebox on YouTube
Singles from '96
  1. "Kaathalae Kaathalae"
    Released: 30 July 2018

The soundtrack album and background score and were composed by violinist-turned-composer Govind Vasantha. '96 was just the third Tamil film he had worked on as a composer and the second to get released, because of the delay of his maiden project Oru Pakka Kathai. The album which was released on 24 August 2018,[26][27] features eight tracks with lyrics written by Karthik Netha and Uma Devi, with one song "Kaathalae Kaathalae" being released as a single from the film on 30 July 2018.[28]

The song "Kaathalae Kaathalae", which was featured in the first 1-minute teaser, was a slower, "ambience version" of a part of the "Anthaathi" song that Govind had produced because "he was in the mood" but was not meant to be included in the film or the soundtrack album.[29] When the teaser song went viral, Govind Vasantha worked on it and made a 3-minute song that went on to be featured in the album as well as in the film. Chinmayi sang all the female portions in the songs since she also dubbed for the lead female character Jaanu, while Gouri TP, who spoke dubbing for younger Jaanu, sang the song "Yean" which features younger Jaanu on screen.[30] A poetry written by Prem Kumar was added by Govind Vasantha to the end of "Anthaathi", which was recited by actor Nassar although he did not act in the film.[17] "Anthaathi", considered the "central piece of the '96 album", was composed for promotional purposes and not used in the film.[31] Govind had reused the song "Yamunai Aatrile" which was originally composed by Ilayaraaja, from the 1991 film Thalapathi, and was released on 15 February 2019.

A reviewer from The Indian Express wrote, "Govind Vasantha creates a soundtrack that leaves me bereft of adjectives to describe how beautiful it is. Govind gives us an eclectic yet symbiotic soundscape, a soundtrack that brims with emotion that touches your soul. There’s love, heartbreak, melancholy, questions, silence and of course love".[32] Surendhar MK of Firstpost wrote, "at a time when Tamil music scene continues to be dominated by EDM-laden pieces and heavily auto-tuned vocals, the OST of '96 comes as a breath of fresh air that touches the soul and mind quite effortlessly with Govind Vasantha's rejuvenating compositions. It would definitely not be an overstatement to call '96 the best Tamil soundtrack of 2018".[7] Sharanya CR of The Times of India wrote, "Govind Vasantha gives us one of the best albums of this year and sets a benchmark for romance in Kollywood".[33] musicaloud.com wrote, "Govind Vasantha (formerly Menon) finally gets his well-deserved big break in Tamil, and knocks it right out of the park!", giving it a score of 4.5 out of 5.[34] Karthik from milliblog.com called it "easily the best Tamil soundtrack of the year (yet)".[35] as did Siddharth K. from Sify who also called it "one unique musical experience".[36] In contrast, Archana Nathan of scroll.in wrote that "barring a few instances of brilliance, the rest of the soundtrack does not leave much of an impression".[37]

No.TitleLyricsSinger(s)Length
1."The Life of Ram"Karthik NethaPradeep Kumar05:54
2."Yean"Karthik NethaGowri TP02:24
3."Vasantha Kaalangal"Uma DeviChinmayi04:56
4."Thaabangale"Uma DeviChinmayi, Pradeep Kumar03:58
5."Iravingu Theevai"Uma DeviChinmayi, Pradeep Kumar03:41
6."Kaathalae Kaathalae" (Version 1)Karthik NethaChinmayi, Govind Vasantha03:13
7."Anthaathi"Karthik NethaChinmayi, Govind Vasantha, Bhadra Rajin (Carnatic portion) Chorus and M. Nassar07:15
8."Kaathalae Kaathalae" (Version 2)Karthik NethaChinmayi, Kalyani Menon, Govind Vasantha03:13

Release[edit]

'96 was initially slated to release on 13 September 2018, coinciding with Vinayagar Chathurthi,[38][39] but the release date was postponed to 4 October 2018,[40] in order to avoid clash with big-budget films.[41] The film received a "U" certificate from the Central Board of Film Certification.[41] Three days prior to the film's release, the film had a press screening for critics on 1 October 2018.[42] The film's Hindi dubbed version was released on YouTube by Goldmines Telefilms in 2019.[43]

Marketing[edit]

The first look poster of the film was released on 14 February 2017, coinciding with Valentine's Day.[18] A new poster, featuring Vijay Sethupathi was released on 1 August 2017.[44] The first look featuring Vijay Sethupathi and Trisha, was released on 12 July 2018,[45] and on the same day, the makers unveiled the teaser of the film.[46] The teaser received positive response from viewers and crossed 3 million views within 3 days of its release.[47] The trailer of the film was released on 24 August 2018, coinciding with the film's audio launch.[48] The trailer crossed 2 million views within its release.[49][50] Post release, the makers unveiled few deleted scenes from the film.[51]

Home media[edit]

The satellite rights of the film were secured by Sun TV, shortly after the launch of the film.[52] A month after its release and the successful run, Sun TV had a television premiere during Diwali celebration, on 6 November 2018. This has caused the public, including actress Trisha and director Premkumar requesting the channel to postpone the telecast. Despite that, the channel went ahead with the premiere.[53]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

Anupama Subramaniam of Deccan Chronicle, who gave the film 3.5 stars out of 5, was in high praise of director Prem Kumar as she wrote that he had "not made a film, but woven pure and impeccable poetry on celluloid", going on to add that "Prem's honest attempt of portraying the true essence of love without taking any cinematic liberties makes '96 the kind of genre-defining film that creates a benchmark for many years to come", while hailing Trisha's performance as her "best-ever...till date".[54] IANS gave it a rare 5 stars out of 5 and said, "as we get to the climax and we get one of the most heartwarming moments of the film, it makes '96 a highly satisfying story of unfulfilled romance".[55] Behindwoods called '96 a "breezy and heartwarming romantic tale that Tamil cinema audience shouldn't miss".[56] Sify named it "one of the best films in a long time", while giving it a 4 rating out of 5.[57] Janani K. of India Today gave it 4 stars out of 5 and called it a "poignant romantic tale" and a "tribute to unconditional love".[58] Mythily Ramachandran of Gulf News called the film "a classic love story that will be fondly remembered".[59]

Sreedhar Pillai of Firstpost called the film a "refreshingly fresh romantic trip down the memory lane with outstanding performances by its charming lead pair".[60] M. Suganth of The Times of India gave it 3.5 stars out of 5 and said that "there is a lot to fall in love with '96, a wistful romantic film about a past romance...But what sets Prem Kumar's film apart from the others is that it gives equal importance to the romance of its female lead".[61] Vikram Venkatesen of The Quint wrote "'96 has very well changed Tamil romance for good, thanks to its high dependence on music and realism in conveying nostalgia".[62] Priyanka Thirumurthy of The News Minute wrote, "the film’s screenplay is gripping. It has you on the edge of your seat for what are seemingly the most inane activities – school attendance, conversations over coffee and even a ride in the metro".[4] Sudhir Srinivasan of The New Indian Express felt that '96 was a "fascinating film, a fascinating idea...an idea, I loved a bit too much, not to care about the[se] missteps. It needed to be a bit more bitingly real" but concluded that "yet, 96, no doubt, works".[63] Baradwaj Rangan wrote, "The only problem is the slump in the second half...But the premise is so affecting, it keeps us invested" and concluded, "I walked out of the film satisfied that whatever Ram and Janaki decide to make of their future, his ink-splattered shirt from school and the dupatta of her uniform will live together, happily ever after".[64]

'96 was frequently named one of the best films of 2018 and listed on many top ten lists.[65][66][67][68][69]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Date of ceremony Award Category Recipients and nominees Result Ref.
16 December 2018 Behindwoods Gold Medal Best Debut Actor (Male) Aadhitya Bhaskar Won [70]
Best Debut Actor (Female) Gouri G. Kishan Won
Voice of the Year (Female) Chinmayi Won
Best Music Director Govind Vasantha Won
5 January 2019 Ananda Vikatan Cinema Awards Best Actress Trisha Won [71]
Best Playback Singer – Female Chinmayi Won
Best Lyricist Karthik Netha Won
Best Debut Actor Aadhitya Bhaskar Won
Best Crew '96 Won
25–28 April 2019 Norway Tamil Film Festival Awards Best Film S. Nanthagopal Nominated [72]
Best Director C. Prem Kumar Nominated
Best Actor Vijay Sethupathi Won
Best Actress Trisha Won
Best Music Director Govind Vasantha Nominated
Best Lyricist Karthik Netha Won
Best Playback Singer – Female Chinmayi Won
Best Dubbing Artist Chinmayi Nominated
Best Production '96 Won
Director Balumahendra Award C. Prem Kumar Won
17 February 2019 Edison Awards Best Film S. Nanthagopal Nominated [10]
Best Actress Trisha Nominated
Best Supporting Actor – Male Bagavathi Perumal Won
Best Character Role – Female Devadarshini Won
Best Playback Singer – Male Pradeep Kumar Nominated
Best Playback Singer – Female Chinmayi Nominated
Best Debut Director C. Prem Kumar Nominated
Best Debut Music Director Govind Vasantha Nominated
Best Debut Actor Adithya Bhaskar Nominated
Best Debut Actress Gouri G. Kishan Won
Mass Hero of the year Vijay Sethupathi Won
16 August 2019 SIIMA Awards Best Film '96 Won [73]
Best Actor in a Leading Role – Male Vijay Sethupathi Nominated
Best Actor in a Leading Role – Female Trisha Won
Best Music Director Govind Vasantha Nominated
Best Lyric Writer Karthik Netha Nominated
Best Playback Singer – Male Pradeep Kumar Nominated
Best Playback Singer – Female Chinmayi Nominated
Best Debutant Actor – Male Adithya Bhaskar Nominated
Best Debutant Actor – Female Gouri G. Kishan Won
Best Debutant Director C Prem Kumar Won
21 December 2019 Filmfare Awards South Best Film '96 Won [74][9]
Best Director Prem Kumar Nominated
Best Actor in a Leading Role – Male Vijay Sethupathi Won
Best Actor in a Leading Role – Female Trisha Won
Best Music Director Govind Vasantha Won
Best Lyric Writer Karthik Netha Won
Best Playback Singer – Female Chinmayi Won

Plagiarism controversies[edit]

In late October 2018, a month after '96's release, Suresh, an assistant director of Bharathiraja, alleged that he had written a script called 92 and that '96 was based on his own script.[75][76] Few days later Prem Kumar hosted a press conference and said that he had registered his script in 2016 and also added that he had written a spin-off novel of what happens to the lead character afterwards.[77] The film was also reported to have "uncanny similarities" with the 2016 film Blue Jay,[78] with Prem Kumar admitting to it, although he added that he had already registered his film before Blue Jay released.[53] Director R. Chandru had accused that the movie had similarities with his 2013 movie Charminar.[79]

Legacy[edit]

Bengaluru-based Tamil writer C. Saravanakarthikeyan wrote a book based on the film titled 96 – Thanipperum Kadhal, which was released by Prem Kumar by late December 2018.[80] Inspired by the film, Gulbonda, a Calicut-based art studio created dolls based on the film's two main characters, Ram and Jaanu, which became sought-after by fans and saved the then newly launched startup company.[81] The yellow kurta outfit worn by Trisha's character Jaanu became popular after the film's release and was sold by a textile store in Chennai.[6][22]

Remakes[edit]

'96 was remade in Kannada by Preetham Gubbi as 99 (2019),[82] and in Telugu by C. Premkumar as Jaanu (2020).[83]

References[edit]

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