I (Manoharudu) Review

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I (Manoharudu) Review
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There is a reason why Shankar has always been seen as a Master - it's beyond the style and substance that his films eminently throw up. There is a sensibility about his lead characters. For all the dispensers of punishment that his Bharateeyudu and Aparichitudu were, there was a human face about them that hit it off with all sections of audiences, cutting across age, sex and class. Unfortunately, this aspect goes missing in 'I', apparently because a sadistic streak is built into the lead character, Lingeswaram.

In 'Okkadu', there comes a scene where Arjun and Manivannan threaten more punishment to a character who believes his leg has just been chopped off. Watching 'I' is like watching this scene several more times, a more cruel version of the scene, actually. The screenplay style sticks to that of 'Aparichitudu'.

The film is narrated in a non-linear fashion. It is intriguing (at least mildly) that the film juxtaposes a decimated Vikram with a hunchback and a muscled Vikram thriving with optimism. Lingeswaram dreams to be a Mr. India and is a fan of Diya (Amy Jackson), a budding model. Diya is made overtures by John (Upen Patel), a star model who can demolish her budding career if she doesn't submit herself to him. Pushed to the wall, Diya lists in Lingeswaram (in quite an un-Shankar moment) as her male model for her next big project, helped by her casting director. Soon, the rustic Lingeswaram becomes a suave, chiseled Mr. Lee, scorching the small screen and becoming more popular than John - narrated in an un-Shankar manner, again.

Vikram gets to play one of the few intense, author-backed roles he has played so far. After 'Sethu', 'Shiva Putrudu' and 'Aparichitudu', this one is his career best. He emotes with eyes and body; the ugly avatar is heart-wrenching more so because the character shows pathos through both eyes and choking voice. The emotional core is particularly attention-deserving. The largely insensitive revenge outings, punctuated by Santhanam's trademark humour, is all what the film has.

'I' is, sadly, the make-up man's film, too. The shock value is delivered in installments and the hair-raising prosthetics can end up disgusting the weak-hearted. The six avatars (Vikram's excluded) are arguably more important than Rehman's five songs. Rehman never had so weak song situations as here in his tryst with Shankar, unarguably the best after Mani Ratnam when it comes to inspiring the Mozart to deliver the best-est. One song situation is about Vikram and Amy acting in ads which look like an inferior attempt at force-fit surrogate advertising. Shankar is at his imaginative best for the number 'Pareshan ayya..', but he falters when it matters most: the romantic-tragedy with his captive.

PC Sreeram and AR Rehman are there to take the film to a high in some places and that's all. Sreeream's magical cinematography captures the action choreography in China, the beautiful locales there, in the best possible way. Rehman gives his best when he has to show to give a musical expression to Lingeswaram's heart-rending emotions.

There comes a point when 'I' comes across as Vishal Bharadwaj's 'Saath Khoon Maaf'. More of the same. The gay character adds no value to the story. The character is force-fit to accomplish to stupid purposes: low-brow comedy, and more make-up.

In all of Shankar's films, comedy scenes were unconventional; he never consciously made an effort to make it enjoyable for Telugu audiences, yet they worked in AP. 'I' is an exception because there is a huge Tamil flavour to the comedy, barring Santhanam's witticisms. The rustic slang of Vikram's character works.

For a dubbed movie, it's important for songs to be hummable. This one falls short, of Rehmanesque standards for sure.

It is a film which relies on Vikram's knack for a Kamal Hasan-style performance. Vikram surely delivers when it comes to the ugly avatar. Amy Jackson looks gorgeous and emotes well. Suresh Gopi and others are okay.

Photo Gallery

I Movie Press Meet
I Movie Press Meet
I (Manoharudu) Audio Launch
I (Manoharudu) Audio Launch


Todd Snively

You can certainly see your enthusiasm in the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart.