2h 13m, ‘U/A’ Certified.
What Is the Film About?
Jai (Ehan Bhat) is drawn towards music since his childhood despite his father being strictly against it. By the time he is into college, he is a struggling musician with a band of his own. He falls in love with Sophia (Edilsy Vargas), daughter of a multi-millionaire Singhania.
Everything seems going on the right track until Singhania gives a proposal to Jai. What is the proposal, and how is it related to 99 Songs composition by Jai is what the movie is all about?
How Is Ehan Bhatt’s Performance?
Ehan Bhat, as Jai, has done a good job as a music-obsessed youngster. It is a ‘Rockstar’ act but without any alcohol. The actor does well in conveying the various emotions subtly. There is very little loudness throughout. It can at times look a bit superficial, though. However, a depth to take the whole feeling to the next level is missing.
Direction by Vishwesh Krishnamoorthy ?
Vishwesh Krishnamoorthy directs 99 Songs. The story is provided by none other than AR Rahman himself. It is decent but on predictable lines. It is alright for a film of this scale and terrain.
The execution, visually and screenplay, is where 99 Songs has to leave an impact. It does so, in parts. Some sequences make one go wow, but many portions drag and give a monotonous feeling.
Right from the opening, there is a curiosity screenplay wise. The simple and straightforward story’ non-linear presentation makes one feel that way. It leads to a curiosity as to what is happening next. But, what ‘actually’ happens is where it falters. It is very predictable and gives an underwhelming feeling after the initial build-up it’s given.
The execution lacks the gripping quality in the predictable moments. It moves at a snail’s pace throughout. The music, either a song or background score, is used vigorously to hold the audience attention. It works to some extent only.
The first half ends with a decent interval. It doesn’t lead to a curiosity, but rather a confusion as to what to expect from the second half.
The whole rehabilitation block feels forcibly inserted into the narrative to add pain to the main protagonist. It ties in with the general consensus that no great music comes out without great pain. The suffering of the lead here doesn’t emotionally connect for a long time.
It is only when the flashback involving the mother is revealed that finally, 99 Songs flourishes. After the brief moments in the pre-interval track of the first half, it is here that there is an emotional connection with the narrative.
Once again, after the flashback, the narrative loses momentum and emotion. The ‘change’ that music can bring is shown literally via a character. It doesn’t gel with the rest of the story as it seems so out of place in a movie like 99 Songs. It (the change) could have been shown in many other ways. The climax, therefore, is disappointing even though the message it wants to convey regarding the music (it is the only magic left in the world, now) is appreciable.
On the whole, 99 Songs, despite all the visual dazzle and stunning background score, fails to connect emotionally. The effort is visible, but it remains a niche attempt with a simple story. Give it a try if you want to immerse yourself in a musical world that isn’t on offer regularly, particularly in theatres. Otherwise, stay away.
Edilsy Vargas and Others?
All the actors are cast appropriately and act well. Edilsy Vargas looks a little underused and less effective in the first half, but she makes an impression (without any dialogues) with her transformation post-intermission. Tenzin Dalha (Polo) is superbly cast, and he does well in all the key moments. The rest of the actors have smaller parts, but they all do well in the limited opportunity given to them.
Music and Other Departments?
99 Songs is all about music, and who better than AR Rahman to provide the music. Still, one can’t help but feel if the 90’s Rahman would have elevated the movie to a whole new level than what it does now. He has done extraordinary work with the background score. Musically, too it is nice with a few songs standing out. However, it would have been an entirely different level of impact had the music been like a Taal or Rockstar.
The cinematography is brilliant. It is a visual feast. The music and the cinematography demand a theatrical viewing of the film. The editing could have been better. There is so much emphasis on snazzy cuts and style that it overpowers it feels distracting from the narrative. The writing is alright.
Music And BGM
Pre-interval (Shillong block)
Forced Emotions At Times
Missing The ‘Crucial’ Magic
A better climax showcasing the change the music brings would have helped 99 Songs big time.
Did I Enjoy It?
Yes, in Parts
Will You Recommend It?
Yes, But With Huge Reservations
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