C. Prem Kumar’s 96 does more than enough to ensure that Ram and Janoo remain etched forever in our memories.

It’s rare when a Tamil movie decides to do away with the usual cliched tropes in a romance movie – soapy and sentimental scenes, goofy and indecisive female interests, et all. It’s even rarer when it manages to come out so very well. C. Prem Kumar’s 96 has done more than enough to ensure that Ram and Janoo remain etched forever in our memories.

The first half whirs past in a nostalgic blur, with a beautiful reunion, sweet teenage love, choice Ilaiyaraja songs, and Govind Menon’s (of Thaikkudam Bridge fame) heartwarming music. The entire theater erupts when the much loved Kadhale Kadhale music announces the arrival of Trisha. The second half devoted almost entirely to the charming lead pair feels a bit lengthy, but charismatic performances from both Vijay Sethupathy and Trisha keep you glued to the big screen.

While GVM managed to convince an entire generation that indecisiveness is the defining attribute of a female love interest, it is refreshing to see 96 break free of those shackles. A post-breakup love story is a tricky preposition in Tamil cinema, but C. Prem Kumar deals with it impeccably and the movie never goes overboard. I loved how the background takes a more artistic touch whenever the elder Ramachandran takes over the narration, as befitting a travel photographer. The scene when Ram and Janoo talk over the phone, is as powerful as it is poignant, and speaks volumes.

96 will tug on your heartstrings, make you nostalgic and reminisce your school days. It is the mature love story which Kollywood didn’t deserve, but very much needed.