THE 'I' PHENOMENON !!! On its release day January 14th, it all started off as Shankar's 'I' and pulled in a huge chunk to theatres thanks to the director's brand value, the superhit music and the incredible pre-release curiosity surrounding the plot and its lead actor's very many avatars. Aascar Films' efforts in pumping in so much money to this dream and giving it the best possible release in the best possible festival slot can't be underestimated too. Now, 50 days after the movie's release and its subsequent handsome success with well over 220 crores in worldwide gross (from 3 versions), we will all remember it as Vikram's 'I'. Such is the impact that the actor has made on the audience.
No doubt, Shankar designed the project and gave such a platform for Vikram to showcase his wares. But not everyone can transform so many times within the same movie - from an imposing bodybuilder with curled locks, to a chic model, to an ugly, emaciated, deformed hunchback 'Koonan' (with insane amount of prosthetic make-up all over). Not to forget, that other enormous make-up achievement for the beast avatar in the Ennodu Nee Irundhaal number. That Chiyaan could convince the audience that he was emoting despite so many layers of make-up and also be as agile as he was, speaks volumes of his caliber and dedication as a performer. Among the many memorable moments that he gave us in 'I' was the supremely physical stunt sequence in the gym with the other hulks around, sporting just an under-wear over his well-oiled body. Inimitable show of confidence ! The mirror scene when 'Koonan' screams in horror at his own frame, and his initial transformation from Lee to 'Koonan' jolted many and even moved them to tears.
Editor Anthony's work in presenting this long non-linear spectacle was impressive too, along with Rahman's chartbuster songs and BG score, P.C.Sreeram's grandiose visuals, the VFX magic, Muthuraj's larger-than-life sets and 'Anl' Arasu's adrenaline pumping stunts.
'I' owes a lot of its success to the 'perfect model' - turned - 'competent actress', Amy Jackson as well. P.C.Sreeram had said that her brand of beauty and glamour was never-seen-before in Indian cinema. We have to agree with the legendary DoP totally. Be it that drool-inducing bikini scene, the mind-boggling transformations in Mersalaayitten, her sexy angelic appearance in the beast song and her overall elegance and grace throughout the film, Amy was the epitome of beauty. The way she performed and managed her lip-sync was highly praiseworthy too. Her Innaba Lingesa in the typical Madras lingo would be one of the lasting memories of this year's Tamil cinema.
And the chemistry between the 48 year old Vikram and the 23 year old Amy was another stunning revelation. Sample the Pookkale and Aila numbers, and all the scenes featuring them as the models, Lee and Diya. Vikram may have an anti-ageing secret, one may suspect (his portfolio as Lee before the China ad shoot. Pppaahh!!!).
Shankar was all over the film in terms of the way he conceptualized and shot the songs in his typically lavish manner. Each of them was a highlight in its own right and would compete with one another for the 'Best Song Visual' of the year. But the film featured gory visuals which may have repelled a section of the family audience in particular. Though Santhanam was a very lively presence in the climax, this segment had some really extreme visuals which stuck out despite Santa's efforts in wrapping them under his witty sarcasm. Also the way Shankar handled the transgender character and its romance with Vikram was questionable and controversial. 'I' also had weak villains who were not a patch on some of Shankar's legendary villains in the past.
All said, the positives of the movie far outweighed its negatives and 'I' was a very successful venture in Tamil - doing massive business in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and the overseas markets too. The U/A rating and entertainment tax didn't hamper the movie's trade prospects in TN, as feared by a few. After Enthiran, a South Indian film hasn't performed this well at the box-office. On final analysis, 'I' did all that a biggie was supposed to do - entertain the common man, rake in the big bucks and leave the industry happy.
Congrats on the stupendous run ...
Credits : Behindwoods.com