Well, who can forget the days in school? The age when you're stepping into teens, when you are discovering life and relationships, when you're making new friends, when you are learning the difference between love, lust and infatuation, when you're discussing/exploring forbidden things with pals... Director Raj Purohit encapsulates all this and more in SIXTEEN.
The difference between a 16-year-old, almost 30 years ago, and a 16-year-old today is radical. In this era of internet and technological advancements, in this era of Facebook, Twitter and chat rooms, the teen is exposed to stuff that seemed beyond belief till a few years ago. Do kids of today lose purity and innocence faster these days?
SIXTEEN captures the life of teens as they go through their loves and heartaches, dreams and destructions in their school, home and the outside world. It narrates the story of friendship and the turbulent route of some kids during their growing up years. It's also about the adults around them who make, unmake and remake their world...
While the premise may seem basic or one-dimensional, director Raj Purohit ensures that he packs in quite a bit in those 2+ hours. Actually, Purohit makes a genuine attempt to narrate not one, but varied stories in the film and each of them, in some way, mirrors the lives of youngsters who stand on the threshold of adulthood. There are moments that startle you, not because the director presents it in the exaggerated form, but because the Gen X thinks and converses so differently in the present day.
Purohit brings back memories of the growing up years and extracts spontaneous performances from the principal cast. Additionally, he tries to scrutinize the mindset of the youngsters, borrowing from slice of life situations and juxtaposing episodes with sweet and sour occurrences. A few moments are sparkling indeed! Conversely, the film staggers and hits rough patches towards the penultimate moments, when the assorted stories -- on their individual path by now -- head towards culmination. Additionally, the languid pacing is another bothersome aspect.
SIXTEEN could've done with lesser songs. A couple of tracks are harmonious ['Chad Gayi' is foot-tapping], but a spate of songs in the post-interval portions specifically deviate your attention from the story. Dialogue are amusing and naughty and do win you over at times.
After UDAAN, BUBBLE GUM and GIPPI, SIXTEEN is yet another film with child protagonists, which is a welcome change indeed. And the good news is, the actors, all of them, show promise. Izabelle Leite, Mehak Manwani, Wamiqa Gabbi, Rohan Mehra, Highphill Mathews and Varun Jhamb are self-assured. Zakir Hussain is, as always, wonderful. Prabhleen is hugely competent. Keith Sequeira is natural.
On the whole, SIXTEEN is well-intentioned and tackles relevant issues, although the second half could've been sharper. Good watch!