‘I’ movie review

I

The most anticipated movie of the year – ‘I’ starring Chiyaan Vikram & Amy Jackson in lead, directed by maverick Shankar has been released for Pongal finally after numerous delays after being in the making for nearly 3 years. After their first outing – Anniyan, a blockbuster, Vikram and Shankar joined hands the second time for a chef d’oeuvre and with AR Rahman, PC Sreeram, Aascars coming on board, the enthusiasm only grew high with each passing day and the teaser-trailer along with promotional materials just added hype to the growing expectations. If you’ve seen Shankar’s ‘Anniyan’, you are likely to agree that ‘I’ is another stylish version of the former made on a lavish budget, the same hero, different subject, prettier heroine (with a lot of scope for performance) along the love based revenge forming the central theme. With king-size starcast and crew, has Shankar kept his luminary unscathed? Has Vikram’s lionhearted hard-work payed off? Read ahead..

Technically startling, director Shankar traverses on an all new path – Romantic Revenge Story, breaking free from his comfort zone of films pigeonhole with social messages, Shankar steps into a sentimental activity type that incorporates a fascinating storyline and a performer second to none. Although romance seems to be the axle in ‘I’, Shankar has skewed away mildly from this and took efforts to spice up to portray the life of models who face hardships in the modelling industry as the principal backdrop. The film sees a complex mix of sensitive issues and thrilling elements added to it. The story of ‘I’ isn’t so spectacular or unusual as you perceive it to be. The script is so simple that beyond a point, the story becomes predictable but yet grand, glitzy, glossy along a star cast that trudges along the non-linear narrative screenplay which makes ‘I’ a watchable flick.

Shankar has raised the bar so high with his previous films including a remake that unfortunately ‘I’ somehow end up failing to match those expectations and hype created. The usual Shankar stamp are invisible from the script point of view. The idea to narrate the film in the non-linear fashion to give us a different perspective of the film works only in parts. Contrary to the epic trailer we saw, ‘I’ does not have an in-depth great plot, as Shankar rehashes the old cliches and packs them in a new grand fashion. Sujatha’s absence has been certainly felt and one would realise his value when the film lacks that emotional connect. The film’s three-hour run-time is another drawback. The pedestrian dialogues and passable screenplay makes ‘I’ the weakest Shankar film after Boys. In addition to all these, the mild adult content might play spoilsport and shall restrict the family audience as the film warrants an ‘A’ certificate and not ‘U/A’.

Coming to the cast, Vikram is undoubtedly one of the biggest assets of the film. Needless to say about Vikram’s acting skills, a gifted and a staunch actor whose versatility is above par. ‘I’ will be undoubtedly Vikram’s career best performance. The kind of efforts that he has put in for his three roles – Lingesan, Lee and Koonan are evidently visible on the big screen. He is simply outstanding as the body builder and pushes the edge with his appearance for the role in every scene. When Lingesan transforms to Lee as a fashion model is truly immaculate with his performance. The Koonan is the real show stealer, Vikram as the hunchback guy will leave you in tears and speechless in the second half. The way he has showcased pain and grief even with his heavy make up is just wonderful. Lets not forget Vikram’s beast makeover for just one song ‘Ennodu nee irunthaal’ which is defintely unimaginable and out of the box stuff that proves the epitome of dedication. Take a bow, hats off Vikram. Amy Jackson chips in with a surprisingly very good performance and has worked hard on her lip sync, at least in some crucial scenes. She carries herself with both attitude & elegance. A very impressive performance which uses glamour only as an embellishment. She shows no difficulty and gets her body language right, displays quite a crackling chemistry with Vikram. We could see more of her in Tamil cinema very soon.Upen Patel, Suresh Gopi, Ojha and Ramkumar come across as misfits in their respective roles and lack strength. The lip sync for them is a real eye sore. Santhanam with his spot-on comedy, measured histrionics and his immense likeability is a revelation and he provides some hearty laughs. What a relief not to see him in poorly sketched roles, Santhanam and Powerstar Srinivasan in the first half is quite a laugh riot and enjoyable and when the climax comes to an end, we see Santhanam as the news reporter which is real fun to watch out.

Song picturisation in Shankar movies need no introduction. Breathtaking is the word. Spectacular visuals from PC Sreeram. Picking up the best technical talent across the globe, Shankar has managed to deliver an Indian film that can stand on par technically with the best of Hollywood films in this genre. The editing could do with some finesse too. At more than three hours, Anthony could definitely have wielded his scissors better as the pace decelerates in the middle. Music by AR Rahman anchors the film well, the one name speaks volumes for the spirit of the movie. Not only has the beauty of songs translated into visual treat, but his music stands out in moving the audience in every scene, with the score. ‘Aila Aila’ and ‘Ladio’ are exceptionally the best of the lot. Art direction by Muthuraj captures the atmosphere quite elegantly. Make up by Weta workshop, costumes for Vikram and Amy Jackson warrant special mention. With them and A.R. Rahman in the music leading the back front, things can hardly go wrong with the technicalities. ‘I’ will definitely make you completely surrender to the power of visual extravaganza and the technical finesse. The visual experience created by cinematographer PC Sreeam is truly spectacular. He deserves full credit for bringing to life a beautiful new world, a magical place shrouded in mystery and filled with brilliant colours in China.  Gorgeous backdrops and settings. Specifically look out for his work in the ‘Pookkale’ song. Graphics, another inevitable part of a Shankar movie. Overdone at times, but one doesn’t truly mind an overdose of graphics in a Shankar movie. That’s part of the trademark. They have been used sensibly at most places. The major highlights of the film is its VFX. Helmed by Srinivas Mohan of Endhiran fame, the VFX team has worked hard and it is evident in all the frames of the songs, especially ‘Merasalaayitten’ and scenes involving the Koonan taking revenge. The stunts staged are phenomenal, the body builders fight is bang on!

Coming to a conclusion, even if ‘I’ is a film that deserves the big screen, it’s the topping dominating the content. The film is easily predictable but at the same time keeps you guessing. We look for an emotional connect that ‘I’ misses. For the brave efforts and the kind of dedication Vikram has shown for 3 years, the film deserved much better writing and execution. If you lower your expectations for this film, you will end up enjoying better. ‘I’ can be certainly watched once in theatres for Chiyaan Vikram, Amy and stunningly beautiful and mesmerizing visuals. ‘I’ is obviously not Shankar’s best but still works mostly for the visual extravaganza which makes one overlook the flaws. ‘I’ may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but film is made with a lot of passion and sincerity. Chances are that you may find it an enjoyable journey if you get into Shankar’s romantic thriller. Before release it was called Shankar’s movie, after release ‘I’ becomes Vikram’s movie to me.

My Rating – 3.25/5

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