Wednesday, 21 January 2015

I :: Movie Review

I is lavishly mounted, extravagant romantic thriller full of glitz n glamor which despite of its unusually long 189 minutes long runtime keeps you engrossed only because of the superior craftsmanship of its director, Shankar and endearing performance of its male lead, Vikram. The biggest movie in recent times, Shankar's I has finally hit the theaters. In I, he has taken up a genre that is remarkably different from all his previous flicks - a romantic thriller. However, the screenplay, still can be fitted into his typical pattern. Also, he makes sure that he puts forth some succinct messages in the areas of cosmetology and medical negligence. Shankar as director tends to translate psychological split in his protagonists on screen, mostly through a double role (sometimes triple ). Also, he's a director who's known to bring out the villainous elements affecting the productivity or harmony of the society. And while he is grandiose in creating Harvey-'Two face dent', society is not what he is trying to save in "I". This time it is personal, and revenge shall be served to the wrong doers. "I' is fable - like, like Shankar's interpretation of Beauty and the beast. The characters in the movie are either good or bad, so the boundary gets set early on between the hero and the villains. Lingesam aka Lee (Vikram) is a gymtard contesting for the Mr.Tamil Nadu title, and is a huge fan of an ad-model Diya (Amy Jackson) who keeps appearing in magazines, TV ads and Billboards. By chance, Lingesan gets to meet Diya, and lands in an ad spot with her. Henceforth, the film gets slightly ho-hum, and we just wished that a story this squishy squeezed a little more juice. Visually, the film scores high on various occasions - the music videos, where the film technicians get to work their magic with well-imagined visual effects. The bicycle fight in China where local goons attack our protagonist riding bicycles, and in a very Skyfall-like situation chase him on rooftops. This is one of the best choreographed action sequence. Vikram gets the maximum screen space in the film, and he utilizes it very well. He is seen in three different avatars in the movie ; as a bodybuilder ( Kudos to him for working out real hard and making such a chiseled body ), as a handsome model and as a hunchback. The hunchback avatar is his most prominent one in the film, and one can imagine how difficult the make up for the same would have been. This was the character which was least liked while watching the trailer but it turned out to be the best in the movie. Vikram steals the show in a bodybuilding musical round, where he has to dance and show his body to the tune of Azeem-O-Shaan Shahenshah. This was hilariously good. How far can one go for their love and how deep an emotional journey would be ? Shankar's "I' is a take on this and somehow manages to keep the audience engaged because of the Vikram's iconic performance.        

STORY & SCREENPLAY                                             ::            The story as well as screenplay for this flick has been penned down by Shankar who has concocted a very unusual love story which can be termed as really different from the usual love stories that we have been watching lately. Undoubtedly, this is a masala movie but with a difference and the credit goes to Shankar for penning down an intriguing screenplay as the movie alternates between the light hearted moments of the past and the thrilling present which keeps the audience engrossed in the movie. Shankar, has yet again proved that by penning down fresh, novel ideas and crafting them well, you can even make masala laden movies engrossing & entertaining, albeit in a different way. Although, the romantic portions could have been more heart warming, the novelty of drama, which unfolds after the romance is over, makes up for the lack of the warmth. Dialogues, written by Swanand Kirkire are effective. If the dialogues in the light scenes evoke laughter, those in the dramatic scenes enhance the impact. The second half of the movie in which suspense keeps unfolding, is superb. The revelation of the last bit of suspense is shocking and truly gives the audience a jolt. The film starts off with the kidnapping of Diya ( Amy Jackson ), when she is just about to get married. The kidnapper is a very strange looking man with a hunch back and also the movie's protagonist Lingesan (Vikram). In order to establish the reason for kidnapping, the viewers are treated to a flashback of events that have lead Lingesan to kidnap the very Diya, who meant the world to him. A glimpse into Lingesan's past reveals that he happens to be an aspiring and hardworking body builder. Despite all the odds and challenging situations, he still manages to participate in the 'Mr. Tamil Nadu' body building championship and wins it. Day in and day out, he dreams of participating and winning the prestigious 'Mr. India' competition, which also explains the reasons of his strenuous workouts at the gym. Besides his bodybuilding, he is obsessed with Diya, who happens to be a model. He likes and loves her so much that he doesn't leave a single chance to ogle out at her in magazines, TV ads and billboards. If that wasn't enough, he even lands up buying all the brands and products which she endorses, which also include sanitary pads and women's lingerie. Diya, who is constantly harassed by her fellow model John (Upen Patel), gets blacklisted by him after she refuses his sexual advances. Diya is removed from several ads and feels dejected. Diya and her mother closely know Dr. Vasudevan (Suresh Gopi) who doubles up as their family friend. Lingesan also, in a way, owes his bodybuilding championship to Dr.Vasudevan's help and guidance. That's when, Diya thinks of Lingesan and with the help of Dr. Vasudevan persuades him to become a model. She seeks the help of gay, stylist Osma Jasmine (Ojas Rajani) to transform Lingesan into a supermodel. She seeks the client's permission to let Lingesan work in an ad film opposite her. The unit leaves for China to shoot the ad film. As Lingesan is too intimidated by Diya, he is just not able to perform in front of the camera. Exasperated, ad filmmaker Sushil (Mohan Kapur) asks Diya to feign romance with Lingesan to make him feel at ease. As ad film is very important for her career, Diya tells Lingesan that she has fallen in love with him. The ad film becomes a rage with Diya and Lingesan becoming the hottest pair in ad world. In this journey of becoming a supermodel, knowingly or unknowingly, Lingesan rubs many people the wrong way, who include transgender stylist Osma, Supermodel John, a businessman (RamKumar Ganesan) whose soft drink brand Lingesan refuses to endorse & a bodybuilder, all of whom come together as one and team up against Lingesan. They are aided in their mission against Lingesan by one more person whose name I would not like to reveal as it will act as a spoiler as it is the main suspense of the movie. One day, Lingesan realizes that large chunks of his hair are falling. Soon, a tooth comes out and he develops large blisters all over his body and also gets a hunchback. In short, the handsome Lingesan soon turns into a very ugly looking man. The film suddenly changes its course and has a startling revelation towards the end. Will these guys destroy Lingesan forever, what was the actual reason for him to kidnap Diya, what happens when Diya finds out that the creepy looking man is Lingesan and what is the startling revelation, is what forms the rest of the movie.

STARCAST                                                                    ::                Coming to the I - man, Vikram, he doesn't take time to warm up, and instantly wins over the audience right from the moment he hops onto the screen - as the hunchback. Entirely covered under a world class prosthetic make up, the actor emotes via his eyes, and also with his body language and posture rather than his curbed up voice. I would like to mention a scene, when the hunchback character is given a minute of hope when Diya calls him towards her car, letting him catch a glimpse of a long lost happiness, before taking it back in the next when she hands him over a coin as charity, leaving him pendent all alone in the middle of the road. Kudos to his passion and dedication as he has performed all the three avatars in the movie with equal amount of finesse. Also, watch out for the scene where Vikram matches muscle to muscle with some of the best professional body builders. It won't be wrong to say that Vikram is the soul of the movie. Amy Jackson looks every inch, Diya, the supermodel character that she has portrayed on screen. She is picture perfect for this role and has also acted ably apart from looking pretty and glamorous. Upen Patel who has appeared on-screen after a long hiatus has done full justice to his character of Supermodel, John who is upstaged by Lingesan as the movie progresses. As the jealousy ridden, conniving John, Upen has given a noteworthy performance. Santhanam as Lingesan's comic friend is able to raise aplenty of guffaws and some of his scenes towards the climax where he poses as a journalist are quite hilarious. It is Santhanam, who provides the much required comic relief in this otherwise intense romantic thriller. Ojas M. Rajani is apt enough as the stylist Osma who falls heads over heels in love with Lingesan cause of his chiseled body. Suresh Gopi, gets to play a very important character as Dr. Vasudevan and he has done full justice to his character. RamKumar Ganesan who plays the role of a businessman bears an uncanny resemblance to a famous liquor baron. Mohan Kapur excels in his short stint as the ad filmmaker.

TECHNICAL FINESSE                                                              ::           The soundtrack of the movie has been composed by the music maestro, A.R.Rahman who has charted out a descent album which is a blend of various melodies. Two songs, namely "Issaq Taari" & "Ladyo" stand out. The background music of the movie has also been composed by A.R.Rahman which raises the tempo of the movie to the required hilt. The cinematographer of the movie is P.C.Sreeram who has done a splendid job behind the lens. He has been able to capture some real breathtaking visuals with his camera. He has not only captured the beautiful, exotic outdoor locales but also the terrific action scenes with equal precision, making the movie a visual treat for the eyes. The stunt directors of the movie are Anal Arasu & Peter Hein and together they have orchestrated some of the most jaw dropping stunts and action sequences that we have ever watched. The bicycle fight sequence in China & a fight scene between Vikram and other bodybuilders in a local gym where Vikram holds two bodybuilders on each side of a rod bar are a treat to watch. The special effects in the movie have been done by Joaquin Loyzaga ( Weta Workshop ) which are simply spellbinding and have to be seen to be believed. The visual effects in the songs, in which inanimate objects are converted into human forms, are simply marvelous. Muthuraj has excelled as an art director with his created sets being grand and ostentatious. Not to leave behind the contribution of Sean Foot & Davina Lamont, who have worked in the make up department. Their prosthetic make up of Vikram is simply, world class. The editor of the movie is Anthony who has kept the run time of the movie to 189 minutes which is a tad too long in comparison to the other movies being released these days. I can understand his predicament, it becomes difficult for you to chop off scenes when you have to edit a movie shot on such a lavish scale but I feel the movie would have fared better if one or two songs could have been done away with or some of the scenes could have been trimmed down. As a director, Shankar once again has again scored full brownie points and proved that he is a master story teller. While watching the movie, you feel delighted in Shankar - brand inventiveness such as the Royal Enfield morphing into Amy, and when Vikram's shoelaces get tied off itself with him just flipping his legs. And, the stunt sequences as well as the songs that he has shot. His direction is first rate. His vision is unique and the translation of his vision on celluloid is brilliant. He has given the film a huge canvas and made the movie an audio-visual treat.

CONCLUSION                                                                     ::                I is a grandeur filled extravaganza that needs to be enjoyed on big-screen for its stunning visuals, jaw dropping action ably helm ed by Shankar and an endearing performance by Vikram.  

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