Hum Aapke Hain Kaun and Mangal Pandey were movies that were shot for five years and four years respectively. It is, then, apparent that the actors changed in appearance over the period of shooting. The movie ‘I’ was also in the making for a long time. In ‘I’, it isn’t a problem because the protagonist, in this case, Vikram, had to actually show the physical transformation. The comfortability, sadly, ends there. The pains Vikram took to convincingly portray the changing confidence levels of the character along with the physical transformation, can only be undertaken if the actor believes in the character. Vikram did and delivers a powerhouse of a performance in ‘I’
After ‘Mudhalvan’ released, Shankar was asked why his songs were lavishly set, when they could’ve been shot in a normal manner. He answered saying the songs were always part of dreams. So, there is no limit one can set to dreams.
It tells you that Shankar is willing to go a few extra miles to put into motion what his mind conceives. Mostly, it adds to the movie. Even in a movie with tyros, he did manage to squeeze in graphics for a song and shot a song with, what was, trash.
In ‘I’, he seems to have fumbled. The storytelling, the screenplay and the grandiose environment is all there, but it seems dated, not visually but contextually. Would it have been a better film with a greater star in it? I doubt, because the star wouldn’t have given himself to the movie like Vikram did.
I can’t think of performers in India who would’ve given themselves to a character like Vikram does. More so, in I. All along, Shankar has been saying that the physical transformations shown in the character and their extent were to the choosing of Vikram and he was fine with how Vikram looked the part for all the looks. If that indeed is the case, Vikram has pushed himself to the extremes.
The look, the walk and the talk. Each one of it was perfected by Vikram with meticulous efficiency. So much so that you believe Vikram is that man, not the character. Be it while fighting with other bodybuilders, while being goaded that he can look the part for a modelling assignment, while realising that the girl he loves only acted like being in love, but doesn’t actually love him and wanting to isolate himself from world when he realises that the face people loved is no longer what it was.
After running from pillar to post for Enthiran, Shankar seemed drained. He did something that he never did before – a remake. Probably that was the easiest way of actually concentrating on his next. He made ‘I’ on a simple premise similar to that of Sivaji and Enthiran, a premise from which the two movies bloomed and I went on a downward spiral. The narration was much like that of science notebooks from our childhoods – blank on one side and ruled on the other. Here, there is not much happening in one narration and compared to the other, there is too much happening in the other one.
The songs were shot lavishly. ‘Ladio’ song appears suddenly and takes some time to register because of the heavy ‘advertisement’ feel to it. ‘Aila Aila’ too has a feel similar to that of ‘Ladio’ in the sense that this song too captures a series of advertisements. While Ladio was shot indoors, Aila Aila was shot on locations such as Jodhpur, Pollachi etc. Shankar retained his best for the songs, but the same can’t be said of the talkie part.
The twist in the movie, coming towards the end, is so apparent to us at the beginning itself. You just lie in wait for the plot to be unknotted after that. That it takes close to 150 minutes after that is what tests the patience of the viewer.
Every location has been shot wonderfully and that’s a credit to PC Sriram. He makes the protagonists look good. The make-up for the hunchbacked Vikram was good. It could be so because of how Vikram identified with the role, which made the job of make-up artistes a tad easier.
You have movies where you can nitpick and say this was wrong with the movie. With ‘I’, you can probably say that it was a wrong movie to be made in the way it was.
Verdict: If you want to watch it, do watch only for Vikram