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I AM - Movie Review : Where its first half is a subtle, enlightening masterpiece, its second one is like a hot burning coal kept on your bare palm. (Movies To See Before You Die - Drama)

30 Apr, 2011 | Movies To See Before You Die / Drama / Movie Reviews / 2011 Releases

I Am - Bobby Talks Cinema.com

To start with, I would like to share that as reported in the news, many Indian Production Houses refused to provide financial backing to this film due to its objectionable theme revolving around sex abuse and gay characters. So, its director went public on the social networking site FACEBOOK and then went on to make the film with the friendly donations collected from all his FB friends.

Now coming to the film itself, I AM is undoubtedly a first of its kind attempt in Bollywood, bringing out some real dark truths of our society in the open, which force you to keep both your eyes and chin down feeling the shame. The director goes for the most brutal but truthful visualization of the reality faced by four different characters in their respective life stories. In fact the way Onir shows you the bitter truths of life in these four stories, might be a first for many Indian viewers who are not familiar with the world cinema and its famous classics. Interestingly, here the best part is that the film has no visual nudity or blood shown on the screen and the director uses only suggestive measures to portray his daring scenes of the script. Still, there are times when the sequences unfolding on the screen make you restless and you tend to see sideways feeling a little awkward. Hence, the film is strictly meant for adults and that also for mature adults above the age of at least 21.

Content wise I AM can be called as an amalgamation of four distinct stories or may be four different short films brought together. And I would like to discuss each one of them in details as below:

1 - The Story of Afia (Featuring Nandita Das)

The film starts with this first story of Afia who has just been ditched by her husband from a love marriage on the issue of having a child. The girl feels like losing his complete TRUST on any man when she sees her former husband taking his second wife to the hospital cause she is pregnant just within few months of their divorce. And then she decides to become a mother on her own through the means of Artificial Insemination. Now here the main conflict starts when Afia is willing to know the donor and his personality a little before going for it.

The doctor usually don’t allow that but she very logically asks that how can she just accept the semen without even knowing about the person who is donating it. To this doctor replies that don’t worry, the semen will be perfectly healthy as we carefully look into the medical history of the donor before selecting him. But Afia replies that its not the health she is worried for but it’s the other qualities she wants her baby to have such as creative and sporting abilities, which she is more concerned about. Now that’s what I call a highly thought provoking stroke played by the director.

Understanding her request the doctor arranges her meeting with the donor and she gets to know him a little more than before but not much. Still she decides to go for the insemination and sets off to live a new life of her own at her own terms.

The story very thoughtfully raises many logical questions and also indicates the changing mindsets of women living in the metro cities. Each dialogue in this story is intelligently written without any hiding or holding back kind of restrictions. The characters talk with each other very realistically in a language which is to the point, straight forward and pretty bold.  Nandita Das as the wannabe mother is simply a treat to watch showing her effortless mastery over the art. And she gets equally well supported by Purab Kohli as the donor and Anurag Basu (the famous director) as the doctor. And for me this was one of the best portrayals of the current changing face of our society.

2 - The Story of Megha and Rubina (Featuring Juhi Chawla and Manisha Koirala)

Next comes in the story of a Kashmiri Pandit girl Megha, who is now visiting her homeland after 20 long years and is visibly not comfortable seeing the paradise in its current state. Here she meets Rubina who has been living in the valley in all those years and there is a verbal as well as silent confrontation shown between the two ladies related to their homeland.

Now here the director depicts the problem of Kashmir in a very subtle yet effective manner unlike any other movie made in the past. In other words, this is the most impactful, expressive and thoughtful representation of the problem till date without using any visual reference of merciless killings by the militants or the military forces. The story bravely shows the facts about the huge numbers of Kashmiri Pandits who were forced to leave the valley in the past. The strongest merit of this story is that it never takes any sides and shows you the problem as it is being faced by the people there. Onir ends this part with a brilliant question when Manisha asks Juhi that “Has she ever thought, what would have happened if by chance Juhi was left behind to live in Kashmir and Manisha had gone away to live in the metros.” And to this Juhi has no answer to give…..other than being silent.

Both Manisha and Juhi Chawla together not only look gorgeous but they also deliver highly appreciable performances in their respective roles along with Rushad Rana as Manisha’s brother. In short this story rightly explains the meaning of the word EMPATHY in the best possible manner ever on the silver screen.

3 - The Story of Abhimanyu (Featuring Sanjay Suri)

Post intermission the film starts with its 3rd story, which comes out to be the most disturbing and disgusting, revealing the ugly side of our society which very seldom comes out of the carpet due to our own conservative minds. Based on a true story, its about the haunting childhood memories of a person who was a victim of child molestation by his own step father for many years. The story is quite unpleasant, capable of making you uncomfortable in your chairs thinking about the difficult mental state of the victim. But its most difficult part comes when Sanjay Suri, the sufferer reveals the dark truth to his mother after the death of his step father.

Now here the director openly exposes the double standards existing in our society where even a real mother can live with this kind of black truth and doesn’t speak a word against it in order to maintain her social status. The moment when the mother becomes silent on the question asked by her son that “Whether she knew all about this in those years?”….., it’s like a mirror shown to the society right in its face. And for this very scene, Onir rightly deserves all those awards won at various festivals in the last few months.

All the actors in this particular part give you a real tough time doing full justice to their assigned difficult roles, which should be considered as a great compliment. Radhika Apte as Sanjay Suri’s girl friend looks sexier in her modern get-up. But Sanjay Suri as the victim, Shernaz Patel as the mother and Anurag Kashyap (the famous director) as the step father together, simply convert this part of the film into a hard powerful slap on the bright unreal face of our present society.

4 - The Story of Omar (Featuring Rahul Bose)

The final part of the film deals with few Gay characters and their undisclosed nexus with the police. The story is set in those times when there was no Law in favour of Gay community and the Police used to take the utmost advantage of the confused situation by harassing and extorting money from them. Though this part starts off as a serious take on the issue, but later on it reveals the con-game involved in it which once again makes you think about the limits to which a human mind and psyche can go in order to have some quick bucks.

This fourth section of the movie has got some extremely shocking scenes, shot fearlessly which might be a first for many viewers watching it in India. For instance, the male kissing scenes and the harassment sequence done by the police officer. In fact this particular part of the film truly shows that how a person is so helpless in the odd hours of the night when there is no-body else to help and the Police itself is there to make your position worse. Rahul Bose along with Arjun Mathur and Abhimanyu Singh, delivers one of his best performances till date which indeed shows a lot of courage and conviction in the actor.

As the fourth story finishes and the end credits role, you realize that you have just seen one of the most brilliant realistic portrayals of some hard dark truths of our present society. It is based on a well written screenplay and has been canned beautifully showing both Kashmir and the streets of Mumbai with an equal elegance. The soundtrack and the background songs are not used heavily but they do sound melodious as you hear them.

In all, I AM is a daring attempt by a thoughtful director which might be a first of its kind for many. It raises many valid and logical questions on the functioning of our present society forcing us to urgently find a solution of our own. Its films like these which can bring on some personal or social change around us and can make a difference. Personally speaking I didn’t like Onir’s last few movies due to various reasons, but with I AM Onir has readily made his way into my list of “Movies To See Before You Die” which simply means that you got to see this at the earliest.

Yes, in all possibilities, its not going to be a HIT anyway because the film has been released in only a few centers even in the metros. And its also not an entertaining kind of movie made for the masses. But if you really have an urge to watch some realistic meaningful cinema, moving away from the usual mediocre stuff, then just go and watch I AM as soon as possible.

Ratings : 4 / 5

Tags : I AM - Movie Review : Where its first half is a subtle masterpiece, its second is like a hot burning coal kept on your bare palm, Movies To See Before You Die, New Hindi Films Reviews By Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, Bollywood Movies Reviews at bobbytalkscinema.com, Bobby Sing Bollywood Reviews, New Bollywood Movies Reviews, New Bollywood Movies Released, New Hindi Films Reviews, New Hindi Movies Reviews, New Hindi Movies Released, New Bollywood Reviews, Bobby Talks Cinema Review, Reviews
30 Apr 2011 / Comments ( 8 )
Bobby Sing

It was really great to know that ONIR - the director of this movie read my review and replied at Twitter :

@bobbytalkcinema very beautifully analised. thanks. pl encourage friends to see it

Thanks Onir.....for your kind gesture.
Cheers and All the Best!



very nice review Bobby.

Bobby Sing

Thanks Brijesh.....



Good review bobby.

Like to watch this movie.. :)

Bobby Sing

Thanks Naresh and yeah do watch it for sure and let me know your views too.



Gagan Chawla

hi bobby...this is ma first post on ur blog...well i somehow feel that if the movie like "I Am" which is getting so much acclaim all over.....why not give it an extensive release...atleast i know this kind of cinema is not everybody\'s idea of entertainment...but still if talk abt making path braking cinema and films ...atleast we have to start it from somewhere...its not gonna happen overnight....atleast give it a good release and let people decide whether they wanna watch it or not...


Bobby Sing

Hi Gagan,
Welcome to my blog and yes I can understand your viewpoint precisely.
But in that context I would like to inform that in Bollywood, getting a descent release of a film is a far difficult job than making the whole film.
So that must give you an idea about the whole scene.

However, the mulitplexes are the only solution to this problem who can be asked to give atleas few descent shows to such films in the first week and then proceed as per the viewers response.

But the real truth is that there are much more appreciators of such kind of projects and less actual watchers in the theaters. We are living in such a world.

Still thanks for your comment and keep writing in!


gagan chawla

Thanks bobby...i truly agree with your opinion..all i can say is that i belong to a city in which a reputed chain like pvr did not even screen this movie...all i can say is there are all talks and very little initiative...i wil say that in oscars to a very less entertaining movie like kings speech won an oscar and not the much watched and commercial inception. Hope we can learn something.
Thanks anyways.

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