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Times of India
: The film traces the journey of four people stranded on a hartal day and how a youth with a personal disorder goes in for a transformation
North 24 Kaatham
, for all its warmth, is slightly perplexing while dealing with its core theme of a man's transformation. The film is about a nerdy techie named Hari who seeks periodic medical attention for his compulsive disorder. Fahadh fits into this role brilliantly, his mouth sealed as though for eternity and his face drained off the last trace of tenderness.
His expression is one of perennial tautness bordering on self-centred indifference. Not even his father or mother is spared; his colleagues feel singed by his ways and Hari doesn't even feel that others exist around him. One night during a train journey, he decides to bear the weight of a personal loss of a stranger; the stiffness melts in a surge of warmth in no time. The torment is festered by the fact that he undertakes this mission on a hartal day when he sets off to a place with an old man, a young girl and a Gulf returnee for a reason his innate, detached nature never comprehended.
It appears more than fatuous for a person under rigorous medical care for a personal disorder to feel for someone else, and that too, someone he hasn't even met before. He even steps aside as the same person faints in front of him hardly moments before as though avoiding a filthy creature. The fluctuation of thought happens in the blink of a second—something that leaves a slur on the progression of scenes to follow, no matter how likable the scenes might be.
Even this transformation is convoluted. It's as though Hari breaks off into dual personalities: one who cares for a stranger and another who continues to retch at stinky toilets and to brush his seats with the tissue paper. There is a scene when the girl Narayani (Swati Reddy) hands over a new-born baby to Hari. He holds it like an object, his look is not caressing. It is in fact a frozen stare at a plastic toy. The coldness prevails, the inherent insensitivity lingers and he would avoid a glass of water because he has seen somebody mopping their sweaty armpit.
Nevertheless Anil Radhakrishnan Menon gets his narrative going at times because of stunningly superlative performance from Nedumudi Venu and Fahadh who redeem a flawed plot with a restraint, so natural to them. The illogical course of their path on a hartal day is enlivened by some beautiful frames.
North 24 Kaatham
is a watchable film for its flow and choice of subject.