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Sunday, May 1, 2011


“We don’t make such movies by choice, this is what the audience wants; we just cater to their choice” – for ages, each Bollywood movie-maker with a disgustingly shitty movie to his credit has claimed as an excuse for doling out a dud on screen. Well, if this is in fact the reality, I am glad that Indian audience is so powerful, because that is how we get a movie as brilliant as I AM, right?

Onir’s powerhouse movie has been released in India after it has already bagged numerous international awards across the globe, more importantly so, the awards that really matter, not (thanks to good sense), waiting for those pre-decided and dolled-up awards like FilmFare and Stardust awards that the thinking people are categorically giving a clear miss of late.

I AM is about four different stories from different backgrounds, the characters somehow related but not really connected to multiple stories. Each story becomes more of an identity in itself in the end.

The first story, I AM Afia, is the story of a young and modern woman Afia (Nandana Sen). Set in Kolkata, it takes us through the life of the protagonist, her success in her career and her desire to start a family. It talks about the choice of IVF, about a woman wanting to have a baby by injecting someone else’s (Purab Kohli) sperm in her own body, of putting a stranger scientifically in her being and bringing to life a baby who only she will mould as she can. Her choice to go ahead shocks all those close to her, the most apparent reason being that she is a woman and should not take such decisions herself. Afia’s story talks about a modern woman in a modern country, still justifying her actions to everyone and getting lost each day in trying to convince people around her that yes, just by taking a big decision herself, she does not automatically become ‘abnormal.’

The second story, I AM Megha, is about Megha (Juhi Chawla), a displaced Kashmiri Pundit, who now lives in Kolkata but faces constant pressure from her family to go back to Srinagar. Running away decades ago along with her family from riot-torn Srinagar after a family member is killed and the house looted, Megha finds it hard to understand her family’s constant yearning for that ‘lost’ paradise. She has decided never to go back again. But Srinagar she does visit once, to sell off the old house, a house she grew up in, in which now live her best friend (Rubina – Manisha Koirala) and her family. The best friend is a Muslim, and though they offer love and look upon Megha as their own, the latter cannot forget the horror that the Muslims had inflicted earlier. Memories of a wonderful childhood spent together keep coming back, but there are enough memories in the present to bring back the hurt and the anger. As Megha is set to depart, Rubina finally breaks her silence and tells her to imagine just for a second how life would have been if instead of Megha, Rubina had run off to a free land, while Megha would still be stuck in a terrorist-stricken army-controlled ‘paradise’.

The third story, I AM Abhimanyu, is the story of Abhimanyu (Sanjay Suri), a young man who still cannot decide about his sexual orientation, who is trying to come out of a horror-filled past, a scary childhood, and the confusion of understanding his own sexuality. Set in Bengaluru, the story talks about child molestation and how, most victims of child sex abuse, are in danger from someone from within the family itself.

The fourth and final story, I AM Onir, is about Onir (Abhimanyu Singh) and Jai (Rahul Bose). The story, set in Mumbai, shows the plight of young adult males in the country, of their choice to be with a same-sex partner, but the lack of space in the city where two mature men can be together in privacy, where a feeling of love can be respectfully shared without being harassed by society, and, most important of all, by the moral brigade, the police.

The beauty of I AM lies in the direction, the acting, the picturisation, and of course, the setting. Each and every shot has a meaning, each dialogue, each pause, each silence, talks words and emotions that build up a story. The characters are completely real and believable, so much so, that out of all the characters you see in this ‘real’ movie (which has been inspired by real events), you are sure to identify with atleast one, if not more. Shot like a hand-made movie, the settings are real, with ‘real’ background sound giving it that much more feeling of ‘believable’. The accents, the spattering of the local lingo of all four states, the ‘real’ locations, the everyday humdrum of life, all come together to give you a feeling of watching someone’s life up close and personal. You sometimes forget you are watching a movie, especially in some scenes where you react verbally, and realise the person sitting next to you in the hall is also reacting in the same way. A movie worth the wait, a movie finally that talks about the ‘different’ people in a way that does not make fun, that does show that the ‘different’ people too have a right to their choice, that life is not always what it seems, that in everything we do, sometimes, its okay to just let go and move ahead. A movie that will stay with you for some time, that will give you more than your ticket’s worth. A serious movie, no typical naach-gaana, so if you are going with the thought of being entertained the ‘typical’ way, please stay away.

And like I always believe in and say:
"Heal the world we live in
Save it for our children" - MJ

Debolina Raja Gupta