Director Ranjith Sankar's romantic drama, 4 Years, aims at being Before Sunrise. While it doesn’t reach the dizzying heights of the Richard Linklater film, it doesn’t fall short either
Last Updated: 03.48 AM, Nov 25, 2022
Story: Set during the final two days of college life, 4 Years revolves around the journey of its protagonists Gayathri, a spiritual, independent women with plans for her life, and Vishal, a temperamental youngster with a boatload of supplementary exams and talents that don’t take flight because of his attitude. The duo tries to find closure in their relationship, while wishing the final day doesn’t end.
Review: During one of the conversations between the protagonists of Ranjith Sankar’s 4 Years, Vishal (Sarjano Khalid) and Gayathri (Priya Prakash Varrier) quote a haiku about holding onto hope. Once the film ends, you would hark back to this scene as it beautifully summarises the film, which is set on a campus but isn’t the usual college romance. In fact, it’s more about the two central characters and their oscillating emotions, which are characteristic of their age and their situation – the latter being the final two days of their college life.
The movie kicks off by showing their current dynamic – they have broken up and haven’t talked for the past six months. Over the course of the movie, it becomes evident that Vishal’s anger and ego had played a huge role in that. You also gauge that there’s a root cause to all of this; it stems from Vishal’s frustration of never fitting in with the rest of his batchmates, who have all secured jobs or will be pursuing higher studies while he has to stay back to pass his 30-plus supplementary exams. In fact, Gayathri has been the main reason for him to stay in the college, even though he had realised in his first year that engineering was not meant for him. Ranjith’s success here is that he doesn’t show any of this through the visuals and yet paints a vivid picture of how college life has been for both Vishal and Gayathri.
4 Years in that sense is a romantic drama that aims at being Before Sunrise. While it doesn’t reach the dizzying heights of the Richard Linklater film, it doesn’t fall short either. In fact, the script, the music and visuals make this a soothing watch, with both Sarjano and Priya’s performances coming off as natural, except for the occasional blips in some scenes such as the one where Vishal blames Gayathri for his failures. Priya ably essays Gayathri, who is in two minds about how she feels for Vishal. She doesn’t let the character be dramatic, in sync with the storytelling. Sarjano’s expressions and actions as Vishal mirror his regret and need for a second chance to make it work, as she has been the best thing about him in his college life. He isn’t slotted by Ranjith in the Arjun Reddy mould and doesn’t try to be one either.
Ranjith also deserves credit for trying to make a campus film, sans any of the vibrant student life that is associated with the subgenre. The organic performances are accentuated by the real situations and settings he puts his characters in. In fact, lingering too much on these moments would have not worked for certain movies, but in 4 Years, Ranjith someone pulls it off – because here his characters too doesn’t want the day to end and keep finding a reason to spend another minute together.
4 Years also hugely benefits from music director Sankar Sharma’s soulful, melodious songs. Each track blends with the story and moves with the mood of the film, never feeling out of place. Combine that with Salu K Thomas’ cinematography, this movie’s various settings are sure to remind many of their college days. While it might not be a full-speed nostalgia ride, it promises a stroll down the memory lane that is just as refreshing as you move with Vishal and Gayathri in their world of love, confusion, joy, heartbreak and hope.
Verdict: Director Ranjith Sankar’s romantic drama makes for a soothing watch, thanks to its memorable protagonists and brilliant music.