Right from the poster to the trailer, director Prem Kumar's 96 screams of a simple lifestyle 90s kids lived. Even the poster was kept minimalistic with all nostalgic elements. 96 starts off with montage sequences of K Ramachandran aka Ram's lifestyle as a travel photographer. Eventually, he visits his school in Tanjore and starts reminiscing about his school days. Ram's memory is rekindled and he calls his friends to know how they are doing in life. He gets added to a Whatsapp group and the 96 batch plan for a reunion in Chennai. In the city, Ram meets the love of his life Janu aka Janaki Devi (Trisha) after a gap of 22 years. Ram and Janu were high school sweethearts, but destiny didn't let them live a life together. When they meet, there are unexplainable feelings they go through. They have a night to spend with each other and open up about what happened in these 22 years.
Director Prem Kumar does not rush in telling the tale of Ram and Janu. He takes his sweet time to establish their characters and how they both fell in love with each other. The film has umpteen number of well-written romantic sequences that are capable of rekindling one's memory. There is a right dose of humour, happiness, sadness and other emotions. Vijay Sethupathi is literally the best actor we have seen in recent times. His performance is top-notch and manages to bring a smile whenever he is on screen. The sense of longing is visible in his eyes and he lets you feel it as well. In the list of Trisha's best performances, 96 would surely hold a special place. She doesn't speak page-long dialogues and lets her eyes speak her emotions. Getting Chinmayi to dub for Trisha has worked wonders. Chinmayi has a soulful voice that helps Janu's characterisation. Govind Menon's score makes your heart melt and elevated the film to a different level. The director has also played with silence. When the teaser released, Govind made people fall in love with his soulful number Kadhale Kadhale. In the film, the song appears at a crucial point and it was just wonderful to watch it unfold on screen backed by brilliant performances. A few deep moments between Ram and Janu does not have any background score and the silence conveys their feeling. Along with Vijay Sethupathi and Trisha, Bagavathi Perumal and Devadarshini steal the show. They have less screen time but still manage to evoke laughter in the minimum time they have. 96 is not just a love story, it also stresses the strong bonds that we create in school. The film also teaches people to face rejection with elan and subtly puts across the message that 'revenge is not the answer'. The film is soulful and there is nothing plastic about Ram and Janu's chemistry. Vijay Sethupathi and Trisha have displayed casual acting which makes the proceedings look realistic and lovely. 96 is a slice-of-life drama that will make you nostalgic about several little things in life. Devour it and enjoy the film!