Once in a while comes a film which hits you strongly with its sheer simplicity and I AM is one such film. It throws light on those prevalent issues in our society, which we prefer to turn a blind eye to. The film uses four different stories, in which the characters are able to come to terms with their own identities and the choices that the make in life.
The first story (I AM AFIA) is of Afia (Nandita Das), whose husband leaves her for another woman. This makes her lose faith in the opposite sex and she plans to have a child by artificial insemination. To make sure her child inherits the right qualities, she meets sperm donor Suraj (Purab Kohli), much against the hospital rules.
The story moves at a brisk pace with excellent editing. You feel for Afia's character and the turmoil that she goes through. The last cab scene in the film is truly liberating.
Nandita Das delivers an excellent performance. Purab Kohli plays his part with maturity while filmmaker Anurag Basu is surprisingly good.
The second story (I AM MEGHA) is about Megha (Juhi Chawla), who travels to Kashmir to dispose of her family home. Many years back, her Kashmiri Pandit family was forced to flee from the own house after religious riots broke out. She finds it difficult to forget the past, which is very evident when she's selling the house to her once neighbour Rubaina (Manisha Koirala) and her family.
Kashmir is primarily associated with violence and blood in our films. But Onir's I AM MEGHA has nothing of that sort. Onir astutely uses sound instead of visuals to portray riots through flashback. Although the film is from Megha's point of view, at no point does it get one-sided. In one of the funny yet hard-hitting scenes, Megha asks Rubaina, "Yahan tar ke bina kuch nahin hai kya?" To which Rubaina replies, "Tar ke bina unka business band ho jaega."
Juhi Chawla is brilliant. Note the scene in which she refuses to give an interview to a documentary filmmaker. Manisha Koirala performs excellently. Watch out for her in the last scene of the story.
I AM ABHIMANYU is the third story featuring Abhimanyu (Sanjay Suri), who was sexually abused by his pedophile stepfather (filmmaker Anurag Kashyap). His past is back to haunt him as his now dying stepfather wants to meet him.
Apart from the obscure dream sequences, everything is clear in this moving tale. The scene in which Abhimanyu confronts his mom (Nafisa Ali) stands out.
Sanjay Suri delivers a restrained performance. Anurag Kashyap is splendid. Radhika Apte, who plays Abhimanyu's friend, is good. Nafisa Ali plays her part well.
The last story, I AM OMAR is about Omar (Rahul Bose), a homosexual who is caught in a compromising position with Jai (Arjun Mathur) by a tough cop (Abhimanyu Singh). The cop blackmails Omar and tortures him to no end.
Onir treats the controversial issue of homosexuality with precision. The making out scene is very tastefully done. There's also a twist in this story which leaves you flabbergasted.
Rahul Bose plays his character with great poise. He portrays the various shades in his character excellently. Arjun Mathur is too good. Abhimanyu Singh is there in only one scene but it's enough to show what a great actor he is.
It's very difficult to point out which story is best, but I AM OMAR holds a slight edge. Speaking about performances, Rahul Bose, Juhi Chawla and Abhimanyu Singh shine brightly.
I AM is a kind of film which makes you think about it, long after the end credits are over. 'I am' strongly recommending this film. It's sensible, simple and poignant.