Director: Shankar Cast: Vikram, Amy Jackson, Santhanam, Suresh Gopi

I-Shankar-Movie-Tamil-Review

This film has a director who has given ten entertaining films in a row, an actor who manages to turn his body into a machine, legends in cinematography and music and all these have been enough for the movie to be certified an “epic” even well before its release. The big question that remains after watching it is whether this movie is an epic or an “epic of a disaster”.

Strengths:

Vikram. This man stuns us with his dedication to shape his body perfectly for every frame of a movie and as someone who gives utmost importance to nuances in body language. The only drawback of this man is, the audience keeps wondering about his dedication to the profession and his painstaking efforts. Vikram still has to work on making the audience forget the actor he is, seeing only a character on screen. He seems to be a better ‘voice actor’ indeed. However, his performance in the scenes where he loses the shape of his body gradually leaves us in awe.

One cannot find any other strong department in the film whatsoever. Maybe, you can call for the external forces, such as the advertisements and promotional materials of the film and the heavy hype that has been created over the last 3 years as the strong factors that support the film.

A film by Shankar

‘I’ has two stories travelling parallel- a bodybuilder who is trying to attain national fame and a hunchback who is on a mission for revenge. These two parallel stories merge at one point finally. This is similar to the style of screenplay used in the 2000-film ‘Memento’ and is a right choice since ‘I’ involves a similar avenging story.

So, this is a typical ‘Shankar’ film with a ‘tit for tat’ story line, with few intelligent moments in the screenplay. But, the way Shankar has transformed it visually into a film is shocking.

Story and the visuals

Director Shankar has a special place in taking Tamil cinema to the ‘grandeur’ level in the quality of its visuals. Shankar takes immense care in making everything rich on screen and that is what made him a popular director among the audience. Hence, either you analyze a Shankar film for its story content or its visual grandeur. This time P.C.Sreeram joins hands with Shankar and the unimaginable levels of expectations can thus be explained.

Firstly, ‘I’ does not have good paperwork, except for the romance of Amy and Vikram in the first half. The film with a revenge story doesn’t have any other interesting elements. The screenplay is studded with goofs and holes and imperfections. At some point the audience starts looking at the watch more than the screen. There is no detailing in screenplay. The only creative aspect is using the television set to provide the transition between the parallel stories. The dialogues redefine the word ‘cliché’. One can notice the audience trying hard to enjoy the film in the theaters.

Visually, ‘I’ is a disaster, and the important role in it, goes to editor Antony. On the other hand you can find errors in the cinematography even at the basic levels. It looks like the style of cinematography-editing for a typical Hari/Perarasu film. Every now and then Shankar’s huge sets and scenes try hard to give the film a grand look- this time even painting 1000 guys on screen doesn’t help! Shankar’s previous films Jeans and Anniyan which were made in times when there was not much technical support and advancement had a better visual quality comparing to ‘I’. You might encounter few people going crazy about the cinematography just because it has the name P.C.Sreeram on it- ask them to list out the best aspects of cinematography in ‘I’ and you will have to wait forever. It has to be accepted- this is not the P.C.Sreeram we have seen so far.

The concept of visualization reminds us of the films of the 1980s. The most shocking part is when we wait eagerly for the scene where the two parallel stories are going to meet and then Shankar shocks us with a rubbish one. The villains narrate everything that has happened so far and keep laughing like P.S.Veerappa and Nambiyar of the olden times. The film just leaves you wondering if this is the output of 3 years of hard work. It is yet another time in Tamil cinema a director wastes Vikram’s efforts and time. A good actor is not one who puts in immense efforts and commitment but one who knows ‘where’ put those, and Vikram is best example for that lesson.

Shankar’s image of being a ‘perfectionist’ also seems to be a fake one. There are way too many glitches in the film’s visuals. There is a scene when a villain begins to chase someone in the evening. The chase continues in dark streets in the night. Within minutes it ends up in a fight sequence with blue sky in the background! This is just an example.

What shocks you is the amateurish making of the film. There is a scene where a low-profile ad filmmaker doesn’t concentrate much on the making of the ad and just says “Let’s rectify it in the dubbing!”. In fact Shankar has done the same in a feature film with a huge budget- there is not even perfect lip sync for most of the characters. With just 10% of what was spent in this film, with the same technicians and story, any young director of the current era can make a better film that is both entertaining and rich in aesthetics.

Ideology:

This part is definitely not to discuss the social messages in the film as it doesn’t have any. But the messages the film conveys to the audience subconsciously are too dangerous. A transgender is portrayed in a very sick manner in the film. It was not a wrong decision to choose a transgender for such a role but it is the portrayal that is sick. It makes you think a transgender is someone who is always aroused by the physique of men. The transgender’ feelings are ridiculed throughout the film. There is one scene where the room no. a transgender is admitted in is shown as ‘9’. These are terribly shocking. There are already reports saying a transgender was made fun of in one of the theatres showing ‘I’, during the interval.

On the other hand, Amy Jackson is portrayed as the perfect angel of beauty. A scene shows a girl with a dusky complexion, curvy figure and average height (the typical Tamil girl) who is laughed at as someone having a funny, ugly physical appearance.

The peak of all these shocking elements are the scenes when Santhanam visits people with disfigured, burnt skin and abnormal bodies, passing shockingly absurd comments on their appearances. There is no necessity of such disgusting things on screen. This is a nation that has acid attack victims and survivors in the highest count than anywhere else in the world. Such a film from a leading director only shows the opinions the directors have about their fellow beings in day-to-day life. No one with a straight mind and a good mental health can watch these scenes without the slightest uneasiness.

One can see critics condemning Shankar in a kind tone. It is a very dangerous issue, one like a tumor that needs to be reacted to with a more serious attitude. This film has also been released in thousands of screens worldwide. The foreign audience will only wonder if India produces such ridiculously imperfect films with shocking, disgusting irrational portrayal of the suppressed.

Take a minute to forget the words Shankar, P.C.Sreeram, Vikram, his dedication, A.R.Rahman, Aascar Ravichandran, Santhanam, Amy Jackson and revaluate the film and you will understand how it is a cheating, half-baked film. Shankar has betrayed Vikram and his dedication. The filmmakers have only concentrated more on advertising leading brands in the film. Usually Shankar paints bridges and people for a song, and this time he has also managed to advertise the brand- Nippon paints. Income in crores of rupees is a certainty even before the film’s release.

This film is for…

In general, we have never asked anyone not to watch a film, however miserable it is. No one indeed has the right to say so. But now, here is a film that makes you say that. On one hand, it is disgusting with its vulgar portrayals. On the other hand, the film has the best of technicians in every department but there is no sign of commitment or sincerity to deliver a completely entertaining, quality film for the audience- may be the makers thought the brand name ‘Shankar’ was enough to attract the audience. Do not take your kids at home to this film as it has disgusting content that may affect their mental health.

The film has fantastic work in the make-up department. While other directors are pushing hard to get such support in that department, Shankar has got the best support and has delivered a filthy, repulsive film. As long as the audience thinks any film with ‘5 songs and 4 fights’ is a commercial film while films like ‘I’ are the purest forms of art, the directors will continue to make such films without the slightest hesitation. In fact, films like ‘I’ are more dangerous than the usual ‘masala flicks’.

The problem of the film is not its predictable screenplay or the absence of writer Sujatha. It is Shankar’s careless, dishonest approach with an intellectual arrogance and the irrational thoughts, which have made the film into a half-baked, useless, disgusting one. On the whole, showing off Amy Jackon’s assets, taking violence to unimaginable levels, successfully showing kiss and blood on screen, and still managing to get a U/A is Shankar’s greatest achievement. To do the rightful, the film must be banned. Its director, producer and most importantly the Indian censor board must be sued.

About Author

Mahesh Raghavan

Mahesh Raghavan is a film buff and independent short filmmaker from Chennai. His interest for films of all genres and languages has grown over the years. One film a day is his thumb rule.

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