I Hindi Movie Review
Director Shankar came out with Enthiran a.k.a. Robot in 2010, starring Rajinikanth a.k.a. Superstar a.k.a. God. The film was India's first ultra-high budget, special effects-heavy sci-fi adventure. Even if you didn't belong to the legions of Superstar's fans and weren't so inclined as to throw loose change at the screen every time he took a breath, you would've still enjoyed every second of that film. It was a well-plotted, well-conceived, well-executed action extravaganza with mediocre dancing.
Shankar tries to follow the same path to success this week with "I", a film with a slightly smaller budget and a much shorter name. The film is modeled as a revenge romantic-drama with the intention of offending as many strata of society as it possibly can during its humongous 3-hour running time.
The film stars Tamil superstar 'Chiyaan' Vikram as Lingesan, a local body builder who dreams of becoming Mr. India (not the disappearing kind) one day. He sings songs and daydreams about a model/actress that he is obsessed with. He also severely overacts while doing comedy, and has the ability to lift up two much heavier body builders at either end of a bench-press rod. All's well for him till he actually meets the model/actress he's in love with.
Actress Amy Jackson plays his female love interest, a model who isn't like the "other girls" and who actually loves her job. Jackson is barely able to convince us that she's actually a human being and not some special effect created using the movie's exorbitant budget. There's a "doctor uncle" in her life too, who takes care of everything, from medicine to plumbing to marriage proposals.
Jackson is also pursued by a male supermodel, played by Upen Patel. During Patel's initial scenes, the only line that he's given to repeat again and again to Jackson's character is "let's make it tonight" in the most sleazy possible manner. To stave off his advances, she hires Vikram to model with her in the "China ad campaign" and hires a (horribly, horribly offensive) transsexual make-up artist to give him a new look. This is when the action moves to the high stakes world of.... ad filmmaking. Yup.
Anyway, the 2 leads now fall in love, they become supermodels and earn enough money to ride in expensive sports cars and buy a mountain-sized piece of land with VFX flowers. Things then escalate, one thing leads to another and after a terribly choreographed action sequence, Vikram ends up becoming a hunchbacked hobo with warts and puss-filled sores all over his face and body.
In the role of this disfigured vigilante, Vikram actually manages to shine in a restrained and occasionally moving performance. For a few precious moments, you're lifted out of your boredom and you actually admire both Vikram and Shankar for taking up a cause of this sort. But alas, the film gets back into its offend-all-you-can mode, with jokes and appearances that are more aggravating than they are annoying.
The only moments of actual wit that you witness in those 180+ minutes are during the film-within-a-film sequences, cheekily placing advertisements for actual brands within fake ones. Sure, it's a blatant attempt at making quick cash by the filmmakers, but at least it's a well-disguised one.
The film has a story line that crumbles faster than shortbread cookies, and makes less sense than if you were actually watching the film with its audio muted. There are countless plot holes and inconsistencies, and any attempts at comedy fall flat on their faces. Plus, the categories of people that the film intentionally or unintentionally manages to insult includes: body builders, models, ad film directors, transsexuals, sleazy dirtbags, people facing disfigurement, film-going audiences and humankind in general.
To sum it up, watching an old shirtless man in the sauna room doing absolutely nothing is a more entertaining option than watching "I". If catching a Shankar movie this weekend is on your bucket list, please let it be Enthiran (Robot) on DVD.