Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
The one thing you must appreciate about Onir’s “I Am” is the attempt to do something away from the trodden path — India’s first crowdfunded film. Director Onir and his team invited ordinary citizens and film lovers from all parts of the world to contribute to the film by donating as little as 1,000 rupees in return for a mention in the film’s credits as a co-producer.
Onir’s intentions are also obviously in the right place when it comes to this film, but if intentions were the criteria by which we could judge films, there wouldn’t be a bad film in the world. Through four intertwined stories, he raises issues like child abuse, displacement of Kashmiri pandits and discrimination against homosexuals. Where he does go wrong is in the treatment of those issues and their execution.
The film starts off with Afia (Nandita Das), a recently divorced web designer who decides she wants a baby from a sperm donor, moves on to her friend Megha (Juhi Chawla), a Kashmiri Pandit who fled her homeland as a child and returns after twenty years, hoping to achieve some closure.
The second half of ‘I Am’ moves on to the story of Abhimanyu (Sanjay Suri), a filmmaker who suffered from sexual abuse in his childhood and struggles to come to terms with it. The final story is that of Jai and Omar and homophobia in India.