SYNOSPIS: A former cop looks back on the case which left him disabled and forced him to quit the force.
REVIEW: ’16’ has the spirit and daring of an indie film but the slickness in its filmmaking will give big-budgeted and star-driven films a run for their money. Its director, Karthick Naren, is a first-time filmmaker — a 21-year-old at that — but he displays such command over his craft that the film grabs us in the very first scene and keeps us engaged until the end. With help from his cinematographer Sujith Sarang and his sound team (sound designers Sachin Sudhakaran and Hari Haran of Sync Cinema and audiographer Raja Krishnan), Karthick turns this investigative thriller into an immersive experience for the viewer.
The story revolves around Deepak (Rahman), a former cop who had to retire from the force following an accident that left him disabled. He is forced to look back on the five-year-old case that was the cause for his current state when he agrees to meet a young man who is aspiring to be cop. As for the case, we learn that it involved a couple of murders (A suicide? A hit-and-run?) and young woman who has gone missing, though each seemingly unrelated, initially. What exactly happened on that fateful night when these crimes occurred?
Karthick presents Deepak’s investigation of these incidents as a police procedural. We see things getting murkier and murkier as Deepak and Gautham (Prakash), the smart, newbie constable whom he takes under his wing, go along with their investigations. And all the while, Karthick manages to keep his cards close to his chest, so that we are never able to guess the identity of the killer(s).
He also gives us nice offhand moments that present the cops in the film as ordinary individuals — a constable forgets to report an emergency call, a crime scene specialist is reluctant to visit a crime scene… Even Deepak isn’t infallible. We glimpse his clumsiness in the way he forgets things — to charge his mobile phone, to hand over a video camera. He is intelligent though not intuitive, and is willing to take help from Gautham, whose keenness he recognises as an asset. And the casting Rahman feels just right. A more popular actor would have turned this character into a super-cop.
But the director doesn’t avoid the pratfalls of the whodunit genre entirely, either. The revelations that we get in the climax are something that work better on paper than on screen. That is why the final portions are a little underwhelming from a narrative standpoint; there are logical loopholes and narrative deceptions. But then, the strength of ’16’ lies in the filmmaking, which dazzles us enough to make us set these quibbles aside and applaud it.