North 24 Kaatham, Anil Radhakrishnan Menon’s directorial debut, for all its warmth, is slightly perplexing while dealing with its core theme of a man’s transformation. The movie was praised for its brave attempt at something so different and real. However, it was Fafa’s brilliant acting that sealed the deal for me. Fahadh Faasil has never ceased to surprise me, be it with his versatility or his body transformation for each character or the daring he shows in the selection of scripts. North 24 Kaatham is a yet another testament to this. This movie really drove Fafa’s face into our hearts. His ability to adapt, express and impress is clearly showcased in North 24 Kaatham. The film is about a nerdy techie named Hari who seeks periodic medical attention for his obsessive compulsive disorder that is accompanied by this heightened sense of hygiene and ignorance to fellow beings. Fahadh fits into this role brilliantly, his mouth sealed as though for eternity and his face drained of 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; he considers his brother nothing more than a disturbance that he has to put up with on a daily basis; 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.
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 scenes to follow, no matter how likeable they 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 a tissue paper. There is a scene when the girl, Narayani (Swathi Reddy), hands over a newborn baby to Hari. He holds it like an object, his look is not caressing. It is in fact a frozen stare for a plastic toy. The coldness prevails, the inherent insensitivity lingers, and he avoids 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 a stunningly superlative performance from Fahadh, who redeems a flawed plot with a restraint so natural to him. The slight inconsistencies of the film are hardly even noticeable because of his stellar performance. He is simply awesome and brings out the different shades of the character effortlessly. The moment where the grumpy Hari smiles for the first time in the movie is so heart-warming, it makes your heart melt. He completely owns the film and his performance is so believable that, in spite of very few dialogues, he is able to portray the transformation of a complex man with conviction. Before this movie he was known for his good acting, but this film testified to the fact that he was a brilliant actor and a blessing to the Malayalam industry!
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.