Who is the director? Who are the actors? What kind of songs are in the movie? The answers to these questions themselves tell a lot about the kind of the movie it is. On top of it if the movie has received a lot of accolades on the international level, than it is even more categorized. Such movies have no common acceptance but a lot of extreme reactions; Some might find it 'WOW' while others might think it is 'oh-so-boring'! Director Onir's I AM is one such movie.
Onir, known for his guts to handle off beat topics, has come up with I AM- a movie with strong concepts and a very powerful star cast. The movie deals with four different stories, of different people. Somehow the movie makes us realize that each person no matter how much s/he is overtly happy, has his/her own problems and that problem is a 'Big deal' for them.
The first story is of Afia (Nandita Das). A story of a woman abandoned at a juncture when she decides that she is ready to have a child. Nevertheless, she decides to go ahead with it, alone! More than wanting a child, she is set out to prove that a woman doesn't need the support of a man to raise a child. Afia- a woman who wants to experience the pleasure of bearing her own child, raising it, and even though she has an easier option of adoption, she sets out on the difficult path to experience motherhood. The donor of the sperm (Purab Kohli), who is supposed to be kept confidential from the mother, is someone she wishes to meet. Despite of having decided to set out alone, she somehow still feels at peace on knowing the 'father' of her child. The turmoil, the pressure of right and wrong, the emotions going through her mind, can be truly felt due to Nandita Das's strong character portrayal. The small story of Purab Kohli, which peeks in the process, is also interesting.
The movie then moves on to Megha (Juhi Chawla), a friend of Afia, who tries to dissuade Afia from taking this drastic step. Megha- a practical person, we realize is rather more like a person who uses practicality to suppress some old painful memories. She is a Kashmiri Pandit, who was forced to leave her own home and run to Delhi. Pain on having to leave behind her own life, anger on the people who refuse to believe that running was and is an only option for survival, and confusion on not having been able to come to terms with the reality is seen going through her mind. Adamant on never going back to Kashmir, it is beautiful to see her still keeping her father's ashes, only to be brought back to where he would want to rest in peace. This shows no matter how much hatred and hopelessness sets in, some part of us never stops believing. Rubina, (Manisha Koirala) is someone who understands Megha's pain but she herself is in great emotional turmoil. The only difference between the two is that Rubina has reality thrown at her face, while Megha keeps hiding her face from the reality. Onir shows us how the beautiful Heaven-like Kashmir, due to militant activities has turned in a prison for the people. Living in heaven has become a punishment for them.
The story then turns to the life of Abhimanyu (Sanjay Suri), who is a damaged child turned in to a film director. Being a victim of child abuse, from his own step-father (ANurag Kashyap), and carrying this burden of truth all his life, is a huge responsibility. But after a point, he realizes that he can get his work done if he complies with the wishes of his father. This makes his feel more like an accomplice, than a victim. The guilt dissuades him from confronting his mother. Finally when he does, he realizes he is still alone in this. Because when reality hits, its slaps you hard across your face and it is easier to ignore it than bear that pain. His mother (Shernaz Patel) thus chooses to ignore the reality.
Finally, Onir deals with the much discussed and suddenly popular topic surrounding around the Rights of the Gay. Jai (Rahul Bose), a very successful person in life, and out of his closet, is a victim of abuse and extortion for his sexual orientation, before the passage of the decriminalization of Article 377. It is difficult to digest all that happens with him but then again it is nothing but- REALITY.
I AM is a brilliant movie-watching experience right from the cinematography to the actual story. 'Reality' of so many people is portrayed with such finesse that you are drawn to each and every story and can strangely relate to each character.
The music is equally beautiful, and the lyrics themselves are enough to spell out the emotions the characters feel. One strange part about the movie is that you are thrown in each of the four stories which are so intense, yet each manages to bring out different emotions in you. While moving from one story to another, you do not carry the baggage of the previous one, and that is the beauty of this movie.
Actors without make-up, simple clothes, looking and behaving so ordinary that it makes you feel as if they are one among you, beautiful screenplay, excellent music, extremely intense stories and great combination of acting and good direction, is what is I AM.
If you are looking for pure entertainment, you might not want to go for it. But, I AM will definitely make you think. It is a beautiful movie, ideally 'for' everyone but difficult to be enjoyed (Bollywood style) 'by' everyone.