I AM is slowly paced – the tension tightening little by little in a protracted sequence of small, domestic scenes. For that reason alone, it is a rare occasion – stories that we do not see often, if at all, from today’s Bollywood.
Onir’s reined-in exposition is reminiscent of the kind mastered by humanist film-makers like Jean Renoir and Satyajit Ray.
A gallery of worthy performances, crisp direction and a quietly graceful script make I AM something of a landmark in Bollywood’s 2011 slate of movies, and here’s why.
Four different lives, four different worlds, four different mindsets and one universal problem: societal acceptance.
I AM comprises four stories – I AM Afia, I AM Megha, I AM Abhimanyu and I AM Omar – each focusing on different traumas experienced within modern society.
There is a woman who wants to have a baby through a sperm donor; a woman, Kashmiri Pandit, who cannot accept her past; a man who has had a troubled childhood only to be sexually abused; and a homosexual man who has to fight against hatred and bigotry.
I AM can be called a biopic because I’m sure there are many individuals who have faced, or are facing, such atrocious ordeals every day in their lives.
I will not spoil the fun by giving the inside details of what happens in each individual story because they are to be experienced, not read, and I would not be surprised if you leave the film house feeling enchanted.
So, how much does it take for our society to come to terms with the word ‘change’.
A candlelight protest or march? Support from print and television media and social networking sites talking about our plagued society?
Then I ask myself a question: ‘Isn’t I AM enough to spread the message loud and clear?’
I AM is ultimately a moving and universally human story about the pain caused when certain stigmas within society prevent people from expressing who they really are.
There is no contest here because IAM is the most poignant story ever told on Indian celluloid.
Written beautifully and directed with so much passion, you wonder what Onir the director was doing all these years.
Yes, we have seen his films making a social statement, but nothing comes close to I AM.
It’s too polished a cinematic experience, especially when it comes to the award-winning editing.
I AM is about sad realities, unexpressed emotions, terrible losses and evoked anguish. But when I think about the movie, I smile.
The story is told so masterfully, and the emotions evoked so completely, that I’m more overcome by what a good film it is than by how sad certain elements of it might be.
Performances are brilliant by one and all.
In no order of preference, Manisha Koirala and Juhi Chawla’s body language and facial expressions speak volumes, particularly in the way they interact with each other.
Sanjay Suri makes you want to protect him from his evil stepfather.
That is why there are actors and there is Sanjay Suri – restrained yet rampant, a quality rarely seen.
Are there enough adjectives in the dictionary to describe the prowess of an acclaimed actress called Nandita Das? She shows attention to detail and a thoroughness in her role as a desperate mother.
And Rahul Bose has come up with his best work.
It is his panache more than his acting skills that make Rahul so convincing in his role as a gay man standing up against hatred and bigotry.
In the supporting cast, Abhimanyu Singh and Arjun Mathur were the first ones imprinted in my mind.
Purab Kohli, Anurag Kashyap, Radhika Apte also shone in their respective roles.
Take a bow Irene Dharmalik and Onir for making us a witness to one of Indian cinema’s best examples of editing. Onir, as a director too, can take another bow, as he impresses us once more with his command of material which is distinct from his earlier films.
But I AM surpasses them all – Onir brings his assured experience to the helm of I AM and gets to the heart of complex relationships with a cinematic clarity and stark directness we rarely see in movies these days.
Its four controversial stories may spark debate in some corners, but I AM, at its heart, is an age-old and universally resonant parable of how societies conspire to kill anything they do not or cannot understand.
I AM has the power to break your heart and, perhaps more importantly, to open it.
Source: Harrowobserver UK