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Summary / Analysis
Times of India
India's most opulent take on beauty and the beast
A bodybuilder ends up falling madly in love with a supermodel, but some scheming villains maim him. Is he able to overcome his physical handicap and win back his love?
Lingesan (Vikram) is a bodybuilder from a small town in Tamil Nadu, who dreams of winning the Mr India title for bodybuilding. Besides dumbbells, his only other love is supermodel Diya (Amy Jackson).
Life throws up a pleasant surprise to our sweet little simpleton. After winning the Mr Tamil Nadu contest for his perfect physique, he bags plum modelling assignments. Lo and behold, Lingesan gets a chance to model with Diya. How does he land this windfall?
Well, the ruling male supermodel John (Upen Patel) is a chauvinistic pig. When Diya refuses to sleep with him, he threatens to blacklist her. But Diya outsmarts him - she befriends the local bodybuilder, rechristens him Lee and takes him to China on a commercial shoot. Further, she feigns love for him and turns the otherwise shy guy into a charismatic screen icon.
In his journey to fame and money, Lee makes more than a few enemies. An irate bodybuilder at his local gym, John - the model whose position he usurped, an egotistic advertising guru whom he offended with his principles, a gay makeup artiste whose advances he spurned - all of them want Lingesan dead.
This scheming quartet, along with a fifth guy (whose identity is suspense), takes revenge on Lee. They turn him into an unrecognizable ugly being (bearing an uncanny resemblance to Ephialtes from the Hollywood movie 300) in the hope that his life becomes a living hell. But, don't despair just yet; our hero also schemes to get back at those who stole his love and his looks.
Suspend your disbelief and get into this fairy tale that is told by Shankar (the maker of magnum opuses like Indian, Sivaji-The Boss and Enthiran) on a grandiose canvas. Shot mesmerisingly by PC Sreeram on virgin locales in China and India, with world class CG work, this spectacle works because at the core, it's a romantic-thriller told simplistically.
While the waif-like Amy looks mesmerising, Vikram bowls you over with a heart-wrenching performance whether he is handsome or disfigured. Santhanam provides the perfect comic relief. The first fight in a local gymnasium and the BMX bike fight on Chinese rooftops are an adrenaline fix. This is pure escapist fare but will resonate with those who read fairy tales at bedtime.
Our overall critics rating is not an average of the sub score below.
चित्रपटातील नायकाची 'लार्जर दॅन लाइफ' प्रतिमा रंगवत असताना आणि देशातील भ्रष्टाचार, गुंडगिरी याविरोधातील त्याचा लढा दाखविताना वेगवेगळ्या रंगभूषेचा, तंत्रज्ञानाचा वारेमाप वापर करण्यामध्ये तमीळ दिग्दर्शक शंकरचा हात कोणीच धरणार नाही. हिंदुस्थानी, जीन्स, नायकपासून ते शिवाजी द बॉस, रोबो यासारख्या त्याच्या अनेक चित्रपटांनी पडद्यावर खळबळ माजवून दिली. 'अ फिल्म बाय शंकर' अशी अक्षरे पडद्यावर झळकली की काहीतरी भन्नाट पाहायला मिळणार, अशीही धारणा होऊन बसली. त्याचा नवीन 'आय' हा सिनेमाही त्यापेक्षा वेगळा नाही. वेगवान अॅक्शन, तंत्रज्ञानाचा आणि वेशभूषा-मेकअपचा भरपूर वापर, नयनरम्य सेट्स आणि डोळ्यांना दिपवणारी सिनेमॅटोग्राफी असा सारा टिपिकल 'शंकर स्टाइल' मसाला 'आय'मध्ये ठासून भरला आहे. एक प्रेमकथा आणि त्या ओघाने रंगवलेली सूडकथा असं 'आय'चं वर्णन करता येईल. इथे हा सूडाचा प्रवास अनावश्यक लांबल्यामुळे (तब्बल तीन तास आठ मिनिटे) चित्रपट काहीसा रेंगाळत जातोही. मात्र, तरीही केवळ कल्पनाशक्तीच्या जोरावर पडद्यावर सुरू असलेला हा खेळ एकदा पाहण्यासारखा आहे.
तमिळनाडूतील एका छोट्याशा शहरात लाहणारा लिंगेसन (विक्रम) बॉडीबिल्डर आहे. मि. इंडियाचा किताब जिंकण्याचे त्याचे स्वप्न आहे. याच वेळी तो अॅडमॉडेल म्हणून काम करत असणाऱ्या दियाच्या (अॅमी जॅक्सन) प्रेमातही पडलेला आहे. कालांतरानंतर लिंगेसन आणि दियाची गाठ पडते. दियासोबत काम करणारा मॉडेल जॉन (उपेन पटेल) आणि दिया यांच्यात वाद निर्माण झाल्यानंतर नवीन प्रॉडक्ट बाजारात आणण्यासाठी दिया लिंगेसनचे नाव सुचविते आणि उत्पादक कंपनी जॉनला हटवून लिंगेसनसोबत करार करते. दुसरीकडे एक स्थानिक बॉडीबिल्डर ते मॉडेल असा प्रवास केलेला लिंगेसन दियाच्या प्रेमात पडतो. या सर्व प्रवासात अर्थातच लिंगेसनचे अनेक शत्रू निर्माण होतात. बॉडीबिल्डिंग आणि जाहिरात या दोन्ही क्षेत्रातील बड्या धेंडांना लिंगेसनचे हेच यश डोळ्यात खुपते. दुसरीकडे दिया हवी असलेला आणखी एक खलनायकही लिंगेसनच्या विरोधात उभा ठाकतो. त्यामुळे या दोघांना वेगळे करण्यासाठी प्रयत्न सुरू होतात. मॉर्डन हिरोचा लूक आणि कमावलेले शरीर ही लिंगेसनची दोन बलस्थाने असतात आणि ही बलस्थानेच कमजोर करण्याचे प्रयत्न खलनायकांकडून सुरू होतात. लिंगेसनच्या शरीरात एक प्रकारचा व्हायरस सोडून लिंगेसनला विद्रूप करण्याचा प्रयत्न केला जातो. हे विद्रुपीकरण करण्याची पद्धत आणि त्याची एकूण मांडणी पडद्यावर पाहायला हवी. याबाबतचे सत्य समजल्यावर सर्व शत्रूंविरोधात हाच हुकमी एक्का वापरून लिंगेसन सर्वांवर सूड उगविण्याचे काम करतो, हा सूड काहीसा शंकरने दिग्दर्शित केलेल्या आणि विक्रमचीच प्रमुख भूमिका असलेल्या 'अन्नियान'ची (आपल्याकडे प्रदर्शित झालेला अपरिचित) आठवण करून देतो. या सूडाच्या प्रवासामध्ये नायकाने वापरलेले 'फंडे' आपल्याकडे नवीन असले तरीही वैश्विक चित्रपटांचा आस्वाद घेणाऱ्यांसाठी नवीन नाहीत. व्हायरसच्या माध्यमांतून होणारे नायक, खलनायकांचे विद्रूप आणि भयानक चेहेरे काही काळ पडद्यावर पाहायला बरे वाटतात. मात्र, कालांतराने त्याचा अतिरेक होत जातो. 'आय'मध्ये काही प्रसंगात किळस वाटतेही; पण नंतर नंतर तर पडद्यावर घडणारं सारं विनोदी वाटायला लागतं. या दिग्दर्शकाच्या चित्रपटांमध्ये तर्कसंगती आणि एकूणच आशय-विषयाचा सखोल विचार होत नसल्यामुळे 'आय'मध्येही काही प्रसंग तुटक-तुटक येत राहतात. ग्राफिक्स आणि हाणामारीची दृश्ये सरस झाली आहेत. चित्रपटाच्या काही भागाचे चीनमध्ये चित्रिकरण झाले आहे. चीनमधील काही नयनरम्य स्थळांसोबत तेथील घरांच्या छपरावर चित्रित केलेली बीएमएक्स बाइक फाइट मस्त आहे. 'सीजी वर्क'या आंतरराष्ट्रीय कंपनीच्या साह्याने रंगविलेले कम्प्युटर जनरेटेड शॉट हे या चित्रपटाचे वैशिष्ट्य! तमीळ चित्रपटसृष्टीतील दिग्गज सिनेमॅटोग्राफर पी. सी. श्रीराम यांची सिनेमॅटोग्राफीही लक्षात राहणारी आहे. भारत-चीनमधील निसर्गरम्य दृश्ये आणि अॅक्शन सिक्वेन्स या दोन्ही बाबींमध्ये श्रीराम यांचा कॅमेरा लिलया फिरतो. हाणामारी हा दक्षिणेकडील चित्रपटांचा आत्मा आहेच; पण इथे केवळ हाणामारी दाखवण्यावर दिग्दर्शकाचा भर नाही. त्याला एक कथासूत्र निश्चित आहे. चित्रपटाची मांडणी पास्ट-प्रेझेंट अशा पद्धतीने करण्यात आल्यामुळे चित्रपट सुरू झाल्यावर काही प्रसंगांमागचे प्रयोजन लक्षात येत नाही. पुढे तो भाग स्पष्ट होतोही; पण या पास्ट-प्रेझेंटच्या या खेळामध्ये फ्लॅशबॅकमधील काही संदर्भ सुटून जातात. मध्यंतरानंतर चित्रपटाचा वेग वाढतच गेल्यामुळे सुटून गेलेले संदर्भ जुळविण्याइतपत फारसा वेळही प्रेक्षकाला मिळत नाही. दिग्दर्शकाचे हे कौशल्य निश्चितच वाखाणण्याजोगे! अभिनयामध्ये विक्रम नेहमीप्रमाणे चित्रपटभर व्यापून राहतो. अॅमी जॅक्सनचा जोर अभिनयापेक्षा अंगप्रदर्शनावरच आहे. ए. आर. रहमानने पूर्णपणे निराशा केली आहे. त्याच्या संगीतात असलेला फ्रेशनेस इथे दिसत नाही. पार्श्वसंगीतही उगाचच लाउड करण्यात आले आहे. आशय-विषयातच हिंसा ठासून भरल्यामुळे पार्श्वसंगीतही त्याच आशयाला पूरक ठरते. 'आय'मध्ये नायक-खलनायकांमधील सूडखेळ रंगविताना वापरलेले काही प्रकार अघोरी असून त्यासाठी पडद्यावर दाखविण्यात आलेली दृश्येही कमालीची भडक आणि काही ठिकाणी किळसवाणी झाली आहेत. पडद्यावर हिंसा पाहण्याची सवय नसलेल्यांना आणि अशा भडक दृश्यांना डोळे झाकून घेणाऱ्या कमजोर प्रेक्षकांना 'आय'चा त्रास होऊ शकतो. 'आय'चे ज्या प्रमाणात प्लस पॉइंट आहेत, तेवढ्याच त्यात अनेक त्रुटीही आहेत; पण या सर्वांकडे दुर्लक्ष करूनही 'आय' वन टाइम वॉच आहे. दिग्दर्शकाकडून असलेल्या अपेक्षा तो पूर्ण करत नाही. शंकरच्या यापूर्वीच्या चित्रपटांप्रमाणे तो 'ग्रेट' नाही, हेही तितकच खरं!
Superstar Rajinikanth was the first to hear the idea of I from director Shankar, way back in 1996, following the release of the latter's film, Hindustani/Indian. Skeptical about the subject, Rajinikanth refused it and did two other films with Shankar, Sivaji- The Boss and Robot/Enthiran.
Vikram essays three avatars in the sci-fi romantic thriller - a body builder, a hunchback and a werewolf.
Vikram's bodybuilder character considers Arnold Schwarzenegger his role model. His hairstyle is also inspired by the Hollywood action hero, who attended I's audio launch in Chennai last year.
Hollywood VFX and Props specialist Richard Taylor's team that worked on The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, the hobbit and many others, has created the special effects and props for this film at Peter Jackson's company, Weta Workshop.
Additional prosthetic make-up for the film was done by Dominie Till and Christien Tinsley, who worked on Amitabh Bachchan's 'Auro' look in Paa.
The costumes have been designed by Mary E Vogt, credited with Men In Black series and Batman Returns among many others.
This is the tenth time legendary composer A R Rahman is collaborating with the techwiz director Shankar.
The song 'Issaq Taari', said to be one of the most expensive songs in Indian cinema, sees heroine Amy Jackson converting into a mobile phone, a robot, a bubble, bike and even a pair of dumbbells.
Chinese martial arts choreographer Yuen Woo-ping, who has worked on films like Snake In The Eagle's Shadow, Drunken Master, The Matrix Trilogy and Kill Bill Vol I and II among others, had designed the action for I.
Asin and Priyanka Chopra were reportedly considered to play Vikram's leading lady. Samantha Ruth Prabhu, who had signed on, opted out citing date issues. Eventually, Amy Jackson signed up for the part.
'Azhagan' and 'Aanazhagan' were the alternate titles, but since they were already used, Shankar decided that a single alphabet would be the title. Since I also meant beauty and explained the character of the protagonist, the alphabet was finalised as the title.
Vikram also went bald for the film as he reportedly felt that would make changing his looks in the film easier.
The hunchback character was the most difficult to sketch and the look was created by Peter Jackson and Richard Taylor's Weta Workshop.
The shooting began with a two-month spell in Chennai in July 2012, followed by a 50-day schedule in nine locations in China's Hunan province. The patchwork shoot and dubbing was completed in September 2014.
Real cyclists of China were used for a cycle fight sequence picturised in the northern Hunan province.
For the song, 'Pookkalae Sattru Oyivedungal', Vikram and Amy shot in the scenic locales of Red Seabeach in Panjin and Li river in Guilin.
One song required Vikram to wear bulky costumes. To be able to carry such heavy outfits, the actor had to gain weight. At the time of shooting, he weighed 110 kilos.
I releases in India in four languages, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada.
A sneak preview of the teaser and the song 'Ennodu Nee Irundhaal' was hosted for the critics last August. Interestingly, the teaser carried a dummy music score that was not composed by AR. Rahman.
The complete teaser trailer, lacking decipher ability, was leaked on the internet on 2 September 2014. The person who leaked it reportedly even informed the team and challenged them to take action against him. After further inquiries, it was revealed that the culprit broke into producer V Ravichandran's office during the night and copied the teaser. However, Ravichandran refused to make changes to the leaked teaser, and planned to release it as per the original schedule.
Ravichandran earlier had stated that the film would be releasing on October 23, 2014. But the release was pushed due to extensive post-production.
Apart from Hindi, the film is also being dubbed in Tamil and Telugu. Vikram used to shuttle between Chennai, Mumbai and Hyderabad to dub in these languages everyday.
It used to take almost 4-5 hours to complete Vikram's make over for a particular character in the film.
I is the first Indian movie to be associated with Weta Workshop. This special effects company is based in New Zealand.
Dr Vasudevan is shown as the only doctor available and is an expert on everything – from guiding body-builders in the gym to diagnosing Lingesan’s serious condition.
Lingesan is rich as a supermodel but when he gets infected, just before his wedding, he runs straight to Dr Vasudevan and does not seek second opinion from other doctors before giving up on his life.
When Lingesan’s friend poses as a reporter to check on the injured ad filmmaker, stylist and weight-lifter, he easily sneaks into their hospital wards with an I-card which is not checked properly by anyone.
Indra Kumar is very rich but does not have any security at his farmhouse and Lingesan easily ventures inside with his ice-cream cart and attacks him. He even steals his gun without being caught by the security guards.
When Indra Kumar is threatened by Lingesan near the poolside before the bee-attack, he could have easily saved himself by jumping into the water. But he simply waits to be attacked by the bees.
Lee and Diya shoot for an advertisement film for I Perfumes in China for such an extensive period. They could have wrapped up a feature film in that duration.
The flashback and flash-forward story telling is very confusing. For instance, when the hunchback takes revenge on the make up artist, one cannot tell whether the sequence is happening in India or China.
Showing Amy in a school uniform doesn't help in passing her off as a 10-year-old. She looks young but definitely cannot pass off as being 10.
Why does Amy's mother use the local doctor for her plumbing complaints? Ok, he is the handyman of the family. Yet, it's a bit much to say that he will make himself available for every household chore.
Upen Patel, a super model whose contracts are signed in advance, accepts Rs. 6000/-as his fee for endorsing a local product that too after the job is done. This never happens in the advertising world. Money is always decided before the shooting of the ad film is done.
Lingesan (Vikram), a deformed hunchback who was once a body builder and a handsome model, seeks revenge on another male model who is responsible for ruining his life.
His story unfolds in a small town in Tamil Nadu. Lingesan is the local body-building champion. He gets crowned Mr Tamil Nadu. He ends up angering another gym guy called Ravi. The two even break into a fight, where Lingesan beats him hands down. Ravi therefore vows revenge.
On the personal front, Lingesan's friend Babu (Santhanam) and his parents are aware that he is crazy about super-model Diya (Amy Jackson). In fact, they tease him because he buys all the products -- from sanitary napkins to ladies night-dresses just because Diya endorses them.
Lingesan, who lands small commercials for health products, one day, gets a chance to model with Diya. It so happens that Diya, who was earlier a hit pair with another super-model John (Upen Patel), is fed up of his flirtatious ways. She wants to get rid of John, so she befriends Lingesan and makes him her new ad-hero. The two of them travel to China to shoot for a perfume advertisement. Over there, they discover feelings for one another. While Lingesan actually admires Diya, she pretends to love him. After a small misunderstanding, they truly fall in love with one another. However, there is friction because a gay make-up artiste also falls in love with Lingesan, who is now called Lee.
When Lee refuses to reciprocate, the gay guy is annoyed. Back in India Lee becomes the reigning male super model and John wants to destroy him. An advertising boss also hates Lee because he is too honest and principled and refuses to do a soft-drink commercial for him (ad boss).
All the guys who hate Lee, with the help of a local doctor, inject him with the Influenza virus. This virus is so deadly that Lee starts to lose his hair and teeth. He also develops boils all over his body and becomes a hunchback. Since he is deformed, he distances himself from Diya though he had earlier promised to marry her. He is afraid of her rejection, especially since he is now a hunchback.
By a strange twist of fate, Lee is forced to kidnap Diya and take her to a hideout. Even while she is trying to figure out why this hunchback has kidnapped her, Lee keeps stepping out of his secret place and taking revenge on the men who made his life a living hell.
While trying to escape from the ugly deformed man's clutches, Diya discovers Lee's phone in his pocket. She then realises that the hunchback is actually Lingesan, her beau, who has been wrecked by the bad guys. She resolves to stick to her love and takes Lee with her to a beautiful home that they made together. Out there Diya slowly nurses him back to his original physical form and they live happily ever after.
(Do not proceed. Stop reading the plot summary right now if you don't want the crucial climax to be revealed)
Spoiler ahead - (Climax)
The doctor in the film, Vasudev (Suresh Gopi) who is Lee's benefactor is also the family doctor for Diya and her mother. This guy is two-faced; a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. He is a pervert who is fantasizing about young Diya and hopes to marry her someday. While he doesn't let his secret feelings out till after the interval, he is the one who gives Lee the I (influenza) virus injection that makes him a deformed creature. The doctor is jealous because Lee and Diya are growing close. Of course, Lee takes revenge on all the five men who made his life a living hell, turn by turn. He sets the bodybuilder on fire; he ensures John is electrocuted in a fight on the train top; he mixes some hair-growing hormones in the gay make-up guy's beauty cream; he sets a beehive loose on the advertising guru after covering him with honey so that he gets stung; finally he injects the doctor with the same I virus and deforms him.
The Hindi version of Shankar's 'I' released in the same week as Bipasha Basu's 'Alone'.
'I' had competition from Alone, but the film seems to have done well. According to a report on Boxofficeindia.com, the collections of 'I' in Hindi were around Rs 1.95 crore nett for the first two days of which about 50% had come from the Mumbai circuit.
The Hindi version of the film has made Rs 11.1 crore in three weeks.
Rs 20 lakh nett
Rs. 1.75 crore nett
Rs 2 crore nett
Rs 9.66 crore nett
Rs 1.08 crore
Rs 27 lakhs
The film starring South superstar Vikram and directed by the visionary filmmaker Shankar hit the screens on January 14, 2015.
Social media is abuzz with audience tweeting their experience watching the film.
Here are some of the responses from Twitter...
Vikram brother - you will be remembered for another 200 years. Respect and salute #I