I Am has made waves for one single reason – how Sanjay Suri and Onir produced the film, which was funded by crowd sourcing on social networking sites. Now the question is: Will the audience who ‘co-produced it’ feel ecstatic to have been part of this project? This movie has four episodes, all of them are interconnected. But not a single story or episode is new or novel.
Having said that, a film that focuses on flaws in society and how they impact people is a welcome change in today’s commercialised world of cinema. I Am is about issues and dilemmas that bruise modern Indian society. Unraveling and exploring these tribulations, the film tells the tales of people struggling to find their identity, and uphold their dignity in a world that is callous, cold and unsympathetic. I Am is a fusion of stories, where the protagonists share a common reverie – a desire to regain their lives, to regain an identity, which has been taken away from them.
Afia: A single woman (Nandita Das) decides to become a mother using a sperm donor (Purab Kohli). Megha: Almost 20 years after leaving Kashmir, Kashmiri Pandit Megha (Juhi Chawla) returns home on a business trip to find her childhood Muslim friend Rubina (Manisha Koirala) has suffered too. Abhimanyu: A successful director (Sanjay Suri) is haunted by memories of sexual abuse as a child. He must deal with his dark memories even as he struggles with his sexual identity. Omar: The rawest, most guttural story is saved for last. It is the story straight out of every gay person’s nightmare. While making out in a car with his newly acquired toyboy Omar (Arjun Mathur), Jai (Rahul Bose) is accosted and booked by a vulgar homophobic cop (Abhimanyu Singh) under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.
Director Onir weaves each story with simple honesty in each of his characters. This is a commendable approach. The film brims with the resentment of prejudice and there is zero scope for hysteria and melodrama. Though all four stories are shot by one cameraman, Arvind Kannabiran, all four stories express their individual temperament and consistency. Music and background score set the mood for the film and carry the stories ahead with segue.
Nandita Das plays her part with flamboyance. Juhi Chawla, as a Kashmiri Pandit, plays her part heartily, and the honesty in her character is clearly visible. Manisha Koirala is pleasant and it’s refreshing to see her on screen after an apparent break from films. Sanjay Suri is good. Rahul Bose is sincere and plays his part with effortless ease. Abhimanyu Singh is fantastic.
Verdict: Will get appreciation from a certain section of the audience but, commercially, a loss-making product.