Director Anil Radhakrishnan’s debut venture ‘North 24 Kaatham’ revolves around a day in the life of three strangers, a subject drawn out of life of Malayalis - having to cope with the recurring hartal and bandh.
Harikrishnan (Fahadh Faasil) dons the role of one with an obsessive-compulsive personality, an absolute weirdo-IT professional who is an above-average intelligent geek but is hated by his colleagues for his monstrous preoccupations with things such as cleanliness.
Hari accidentally meets Gopalettan (Nedumudi Venu), a retired school teacher, and Narayani (Swathi), an NGO worker, during a train journey. The trio then sets out in a 380 km (or 24 kaatham in old school) journey to North, from Kollam to Kozhikode, to visit Gopalettan’s ailing wife.
Barring the skies and elephants, the characters gets into almost all modes of transportation - from canoes in the hinterland to ambulance and police jeeps - in their desperate attempt to reach Kozhikode. It’s the riveting series of on-road experiences that makes the film a breezy entertainer.
At one point the trio gets help from an affable gipsy family, a cameo played by Premigi Amaren, which receive applauds of the audience for the lovable treatment given to the scene.
Hari is thrown into a series of experiences during the journey which catapults him into a warm hearted ‘normal’ guy (and lover) overnight. You can pardon the goodwill of the director, but if this transformation has any backing in medical science, then one would wonder why not take all the OCDS for a love-therapy or something? Too fancy, no?
You might laugh at Hari in the beginning when he repeatedly washes his hands or makes sure certain things are kept in a certain way or uses napkins all the time. But after a point, you cannot but wonder - when was the last time you saw Hari for real! He might be your school friend or your colleague or have you seen him in your bathroom mirror. It’s this connectedness and the way it’s portrayed with thorough continuity that makes the audience put their hands together at the culmination.
While Nedumudi Venu mesmerize the audience with the sheer force of his presence, all the other actors do justice to the roles assigned to them.Director Anil Radhakrishnan has broken conventions in his debut venture- here is a movie where the charming new generation poster boy is a near aspie, the heroine is a social worker (note: without an item-dancer-past-life given for some titillating frames), the plot is set on a hartal day but without deviating into anti-hartal sloganeering, drawing the transformation of an individual without throwing text book philosophy on your face, with scripting more monologues in your head than dialogues on the screen, with returns like Geetha or freshers like Sreenath Bhasi giving a clean performance, with no innuendos, with no sexist remarks....you can just sit back, relax, laugh and return home with a certain satisfaction on the money spent; or if you care more, those reels will start pamper you with questions on life’s vivid reality or the beauty of falling in love.