Friday, April 29, 2011

I Am 

Life’s Like That

Onir’s I Am tells four stories of four individuals who have to make difficult choices.  It’s a brave attempt at personal filmmaking, talking of situations when society, law or politics intervenes in the lives of ordinary human beings.  Set in four cities, the stories do not have a particular binding theme, all  they have in common is director Onir’s compassionate point of view. It also one of the few movies funded by people who believed in it, and the sheer sincerity shines through, whether one agrees with the film’s approach or not.

In the first (perhaps weakest) story, Afia (Nandita Das) wants to go in for artificial insemination to have a child, considered a problem because she is divorced. She has an awkward meeting with the donor (Purab Kohli) because she wants “a face.”  Her friend Megha (Juhi Chawla) returns to a ravaged Kashmir of her childhood. She is angry and resentful because of the violence her family and other Pandits faced, while her friend Rubina (Manisha Koirala) silently conveys to her that the ones left behind suffered too.  I Am Megha is the strongest, most poignant and heartfelt of the four stories. With a gentle lyricism it concludes that women on both sides of the man-made fence have to pay the price for a war they did not choose.

I Am Abhimanyu is the story of a victim of child abuse, who grows up to be promiscuous and exploitative.  Abhimanyu (Sanjay Suri) was abused by his stepfather (Anurag Kashyap), and with typical emotional blindness his mother (Shernaz Patel) does not see or understand.  In the last story,  Jai (Rahul Bose) is seduced by a man, who is in cahoots with a blackmailing cop.

The film, has some jagged edges, but Onir is earnest, honest and not afraid to make a statement at a time when films are meant to be just light entertainment. If anyone sees a slice of their life in the film or understands the angst of another, that’s reward enough.


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