Shankar's I Movie Review
I is about how the life of Mr.India aspirant Lingesan is made to take two drastic turns, the first of which is engineered by Diya, the model he reveres & admires, the second by those who he gets related to, through Diya. As is the case with most life-turning experiences, he faces tough situations in both. Here they are potentially heart-crushing situations but he wins over the two with contrasting yet pure humane qualities - Benevolence & Vengeance!
Vikram has given his heart out unleashing another set of memorable & masterful portrayals. As Lingesan the body-builder, his chiseled body speaks more than what his Chennai dialect does & even in his flamboyant avatar of model Lee, we get to feel Lingesan underneath the swashbuckling looks! When calamity strikes, he takes his level a few notches higher and totally takes control of your attention. Vikram makes you empathise with him when he suffers from the condition that disfigures him which is captured quite nicely by Anthony's editing (who has had a pretty tough role in editing the film spanning 189 minutes!). Amy Jackson has given her best with a display of emotions that appear convincing enough & she is a lovely doll in the song sequences. The lip sync with her dubbing suffers though, which is the case with Upen Patel too. The supporting cast with a set of unexpected faces (if one discounts Santhanam, that is) led by Ramkumar Ganesan, Suresh Gopi & Ojas(whose treatment is something you don't expect AT ALL in a Shankar film) is a bundle of cliches. Even these fresh faces cannot balance out the dated characterisations created for the roles they play!
On the surface, I gives an impression that Shankar has tried something away from his highly successful tried & tested presentations of social issues but a close look would reveal that is not the case. Unconditional love has replaced the social issue theme but he has trusted and gone by the underlying template he has used historically. Even though I delves on unfailing love, it is more closer to Anniyan than it is to Kadhalan or Jeans. In fact, there is a huge connection that I holds with Anniyan which could be dissected at length but now is not the time as dissection would bring a whole lot of spoilers.
On the flip side, where doubt creeps in if Shankar's prowess is on the wane are in the facts that the dialogues don't carry the many 'Aha' moments we are used to with his films & the way the screenplay wavers while it introduces and later, focuses on the supporting cast. As an example, the (seeming) twist in the climax is something one could easily guess in the first fifteen minutes of the film. The film suffers from the lack of a well-written subplot for the characters around the primaries.
Also worth mentioning is how Shankar has become obsessed with grandeur and how that, in a way, is impeding his story-telling. The stunt sequence at the body-building competition is too lengthy & the one with the Bikers (where Vikram is seen to be duped big-time) is totally needless given the duration of the film. Apart from giving scope to some grandeur,which the stunt choreographers have duly used, they do nothing to impact the film's proceedings.
Anthony's editing has already been spoken of. The two other important aspects of the film are PC Sreeram's camera which does the simple part of capturing the mystique locations in China & India wonderfully. The highlight of the lens work is in the way it goes chasing in the Bicycle fight sequence & Aila song sequence (which, alongside Mersalayitten, has been conceptualised in typically admirable Shankar style). Rahman's songs have been picturised with devotion with an intention to make them stand out & the experimental background score in the fights are good.
In 'I', Shankar has to be credited for giving Vikram a glorious little boxing platform on which the actor has delivered a balanced knock-out performance playing to the admiration and liking of both the gallery & the judges. Where Shankar has failed is in not being able to give him powerful opponents to box against.