“I am Afia Megha Abhimanyu Omar” unwraps four distinct stories of four individuals set in four different cities in India where the characters are some way or the other Interlinked. I AM is all about the issues and dilemmas of individuals as well as the modern Indian societal stature. Untying these ordeals, the film unfolds many layers of four identities: Afia, Megha, Abhimanyu, Omar, the protagonists struggling to locate their dignity to uphold their own set of priorities and values in their world, the dignity which has been taken away from them with a desire of living their lives in their own way. Through these four lives, Onir basically presented a platter of social taboos and made the spectators to confront the intriguing issues. He juggles with an interesting transition between the subplots like sperm donation or artificial insemination to Kashmiri communalism and dwelling through child sexual abuse to the Indian social stigma towards homosexuality. Four very captivating grounds, however the film doesn’t quite translate into an entirely enthralling and radical film.
Director Onir along with producer and actor Sanjay Suri have made an excellent effort to present such a narrative in the bigger platform with an impressive star cast and an intriguing storyline. I Am is crowd funded film you, this is a film truly supported by the people. The genesis of I Am and the intention of the film is really gracious. The unique way of narrating stories is the reason that influences the cinema lovers in all of the Onir’s films.
‘I Am Afia’ enlightens the story of a woman who thinks her individuality will be made complete through her singular feminine experience of motherhood so she is desperate to have a baby from a sperm donor because she doesn’t trust a man or even waits for a man for her urge of experiencing motherhood, so her question to Megha “Does the motherhood of a woman necessarily dependent on a man?” This is a topic that catches the sheer attention especially in a society where people even fumble in a question of child adoption. Afia (played by Nandita Das) takes the decision to have a baby through artificial insemination. In the whole process she comes across and befriends a guy who ends up becoming her sperm donor (played by Purab Kohli). Purab Kohli and Nadita Das both were good on their part but the only constraint was the dialogues were pretentious and awkward so the episode is somewhat hampered by the actors trying to sound plausible with colloquial English and Hindi or forced Bengali.
In my opinion ‘I Am Megha’ is the most engaging of the four narratives, very apt and very natural, a Kashmiri tale one ever experienced on celluloid before. The story brings together Megha, a Kashmiri Pundit (played by Juhi Chawla) and Rubina, Megha’s childhood Muslim friend (played by Manisha Koirala). The star cast is a real treat for all sensible Hindi cinema lovers. Both Juhi and Manisha deliver extraordinarily controlled performances by playing two different fragments of their friendship splintered by their circumstances where one moved out of the Paradise (Kashmir) with a torn feeling and one stayed back into the grime at the backdrop of the emigration of Hindu’s in Kashmir in early 90’s.
‘I Am Abhimanyu’ deals with a tale of child sexual abuse. This episode basically focuses on the life of a guy, Abhimanyu (played by Sanjay Suri) whose childhood was stolen from him, torn by the repeated encounters of child abuse by his step-father (an extraordinary vignette by Anurag Kashyap) who was a paedophile. Hence he grows as a sexually confused adult. This part is the screen representation of the gruelling experiences faced by Harish Iyer. Here Abhimanyu’s sexual orientation is pretty ambiguous. Abhimanyu didn’t have a sex life as other men of his age and that is because of his broken childhood memories. However, Sanjay’s performance could be better in terms of giving more depth to this character; the portrayal of his adulthood was a bit shallow.
‘I Am Omar’ is one of the horrific and insightful tales and drives the spectators right in the middle of the scenario. It reveals how cops use Article 377 (under Indian Penal code which criminalizes non-vaginal sex) to harass gay men even after the decriminalization of the article. In the present scenario perhaps this story gains more poignancy. A corporate professional Jai (played by Rahul Bose) shares some light moments with a sweet guy, Omar (played by Arjun Mathur) one night in a rendezvous and the two are victimized by a homophobic cop (played by Abhimanyu Singh) who seizes them in some sexual act. The very night turns into one of deception and wreckage. Rahul Bose wobbles with incredible performance. Later Jai finds that the whole situation was plastic. One can hardly imagine that Rahul Bose can be projected in such a way. His pick up lines, his eyes and typical expressions were something which audience had ever explored.
Onir consistently confronted the societal taboos with stories which hardly any Hindi filmmaker had ever dare to tread. He has walked that rarely trodden path and that is something which was evident right from his first film, My Brother Nikhil. With I Am, Onir discovers two major things that all human beings constantly search for, happiness and acceptance. Unusual story telling of Megha and Omar really stand out for execution and performance. All the four stories flow in their own ways. On the other hand background scores background plays a great part by making the ambiance altogether. In a nutshell with I Am Onir has really come up with his original way of storytelling.
Picture Source : www.iamthefilms.com