Shankar’s movies are supposed to be extravagant. Hideously fantastic that will make your jaw drop on every visual he makes. Tamil audiences are quite used to stereotype the actors. But we have also started stereotyping directors. Shankar just has to give us a big budget blockbuster. Bala has to give a dark serious movie. And that’s why ‘I’ is extravagant. Profligacy of ‘I’ will make you think that probably Shankar was high when he conceived those visuals. The beauty and the beast song or those wild dreams of a man coming alive in Merasalayitten leaves you in awe. And PC Sriram plays the perfect partner in crime.
To be fair, Vikram’s (Lingesan) dedication shows up in every scene in the movie. He possesses the characters as if they were his alter egos from his real self. Amy Jackson (Diya) was a surprise package. She showed that she could carry a character that doesn’t need to delve on her international background. ‘I’ as a movie will not bore you as it doesn’t give you time to think. It’s the same tactic that is used by Hollywood blockbusters, but it suffers from the same problem. ‘I” lacks the soul
The impact of a revenge story depends on the way in which the audiences connect with the soul of the movie. It can’t be denied that ‘I’ reminded of Kamal’s Apoorva Sagotharargal as it deals with deformity too. The latter had a convincing back-story and painful one-sided love that makes the protagonist to retaliate on the villains. Although, the deformity is about stunted growth, audience could connect with it. If you take Shankar’s previous movies that talks about social evils, each one has a personal tragedy attached to it. Be it the friend and mother’s demise in Gentleman or the daughter’s horrible death in Indian, as an audience you relate to those issues. You don’t mind the robin hoodish actions of the protagonists.
But in ‘I’, even though the director tries to portray how important is Lingesan’s love, it doesn’t affect you that the way it should. Beyond the visuals and songs, the love story doesn’t give you the vital influence that will force you to support Lingesan’s revenge after he is deformed. The second issue is the lack of strong antagonists despite the fact that the director has 5 of them. They are mere caricatures than villains. And when did Shankar become so constrained when it comes to showing the revenge. The elaborate schemes are the better part of any movie. In fact, Lingesan uses interesting methods to punish the perpetrators and most of them happen at a blink of an eye. The audience can’t remember them even if they want to.
‘I’ is a technically brilliant movie. Every bit of visual, the detailing in the art direction and make up will baffle you. Rahman’s score is mostly enjoyable and you can’t stop admiring Shankar’s imaginations. But ‘I’ has no soul. Not even misplaced, it is non-existent. ‘I” was intended to show the beauty of love. Alas, you end up looking for it till the end. Deeply thoughtful lyrics of “Ennodu Nee Irunthal” mean nothing when you watch those visuals. Exceptionally beautiful flowers of Lijiang mean nothing because you don’t fall in love with Lingesan and Diya. Over the years, Shankar is slowly transforming in to a director who is trading off opulence for the soul. If he shows the same sincerity in creating emotions between his characters, his grandeur will have more impact than it is now.
‘I’ will make 100 crores or even more than that but if you ask me if it was a satisfying movie, I would say No. Shankar needs to make a simple movie sans the extravagance. As an audience, I reckon it is time for us to allow him to make such a movie. Why not bring out the soul that’s hiding behind the prosthetics?
A 2/5 for Shankar’s ‘I’ and I wish I could give more.