Monday, March 11, 2013

I, Me Aur Main: Review

We’re all for character arcs. Casablanca wouldn’t be the same without them, neither would Shri 420. But it stands to reason that if your film centres on one person’s eventual self-discovery, your audience better be willing to journey along with the character. If said character is unappealing or just plain dull, it hardly matters whether they follow an arc or move in a straight line or remain still. That’s the biggest problem debutant director Kapil Sharma’s I, Me Aur Main faces.

Ishan (John Abraham) is a self-centred reprobate, the kind our films like to encourage and then put down in the last act. Shallow and emotionally stunted, he chases skirts, cheats on his girlfriend Anushka (Chitrangada Singh), and deals in the sort of smarmy forthrightness that you’re supposed to be able to get away with if you’re good-looking. The long-suffering Anushka finally dumps him, only to find out that she’s pregnant with his child. While that bomb ticks away, ready to explode at a time convenient to his emotional development, Ishan finds himself another girl to treat badly. Her name is Gauri (Prachi Desai), and the film goes to great lengths to stress how much like regular folk she is, and how good she’d be for this misguided, flip-flop wearing music producer.

It’s a little scary to spend any film entirely in John Abraham’s company. This one is a trial, especially when he stops looking at his reflection and flails around for empathy in the last ten minutes. An early dialogue exchange – Anushka saying “I love you”, Ishan replying “I love me too” – tells you all you need to know about the character’s inflated sense of self, and the film’s indulgence of such obnoxiousness. As if to drive home the point that a female-dominated cast doesn’t necessarily mean there’ll be any worthwhile roles, there’s Zarina Wahab as a mom who can’t tell her no-good son off, and Raima Sen as a corporate honcho so noxious, she makes Ishan look nice. Still, Singh’s composure serves her well, and Desai makes something of a very badly written part.

This review appeared in Time Out Delhi.

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