If coming-of-age cinema is in the air, then 'Sixteen' has to be a worthy contender. For all its shortcomings and sloppiness — unlike the few desi names in the genre — this movie is indeed coming of age. It tries to tackle some issues teenagers in a metropolitan city usually face. To the makers’ credit, fresh faces are playing characters their age, allowing the story to remain credible. However, it could have been a lot sharper than it turns out to be as it pretty much touches all the chords lovelorn youngsters keep themselves busy with nowadays.
As the title itself suggests, hormones play a significant part in the several subplots leading to the ultimate climax. Innocence has very little to do with the overall setting because the kids in question belong to a generation that drives car, casually smokes cigarettes, consumes alcohol and even amusingly compliments their sister’s hotness. And while they are at it, society hypocrisy gets rejected too. The feeling that the world is against you just because you’ve hit adolescence has a strong undertone throughout; a rarity in our mainstream films. On the other hand, several half-baked characters — armed with cringe-worthy performances — on the fringe slow down the pace.
Co-written and directed by Raj Purohit, the story rotates around four school kids in Delhi who have a lot going on in their life. Some events are desirable whereas some, not so. The chief ingredients are love, friendship, lust, angst, murder, maturity and immaturity. There’s a fifth guy too who provides the bird’s view and spouts thick-accented philosophical lines every now and then. Interestingly, he lacks the intellectual spunk the youngsters exhibit so effortlessly.
Speaking of which, some experimentation with camera clicks while the lively background score helps. The songs are unconventionally worded but don’t resonate much with the flow.
In terms of the onscreen act, Wamiqa Gabbi and Highphill shine brightly as confused teens. Izabelle Leite comes across as confident whereas Mahak Manwani’s careless voice works in her character’s favour. Keith Sequeira, the eldest of the protagonists, has very few moments to himself despite the suave writer he plays.
For an industry that lacks genuine children’s films, this effort is quite an attempt at coming up with a teen-oriented film. Despite its hapless editing and a circus of miscasts, the admirable part is it doesn’t thrust an all-weather remedy to handling hormones effectively.