Dilani Rabindran



Shankar’s Latest Revolution?, Shankar, I


Sum totaling such an immense movie in a single-letter title is a complete oxymoron. I is a pure feat of talent and diligence. It is obviously the combined work of many “we’s”, but no one can deny that the film is the result of the expansion of director Shankar’s imagination to brand new dimensions – and, as a consequence, the audience’s as well.
There may be differing opinions on the strength of the storyline but there’s no doubt that the film is an epic in terms of genre. When stripped down to its bare bones the tale is essentially a revenge storyline, but what the film will really be remembered for, besides Vikram’s outstanding dedication to his role and Amy’s cross-cultural beauty, is its unbelievable special effects. How else can you explain that after over 3 hours in the theatre many, like myself, walked out thinking almost solely of the song sequence that happened in the first ~30 minutes of the film?
The amount of effort put into the film’s visual effects is beyond comprehension to most. Shankar has illustrated the likes of what people may have never even envisioned, even in their wildest dreams. And although the film boasts great effects from start to finish and all songs, in addition to achievements in makeup, the crowning jewel of the movie is arguably “Mersalayitten”. Shankar’s ability to bring the most mundane daily routines and household items to life in such creative ways is truly a rare and precious gift. From outdated Nokia cell phones to iron weights all the way to raw fish, the magician has waved his directorial wand to ignite brand new ways to perceive the world around us, and in the process created one of Tamil Cinema’s all time best song videos. In fact, some would say that with I Shankar has officially edged in a new revolution, and set the barrier for visual effects in Tamil movies at an all time high. 
And it wouldn’t be the first time Shankar has changed the game. Obviously he is considered one of the masters of the Tamil film industry, and we expect to see stunning visuals in general with his films, whether or not they boast scientific-related themes. But, in the case of I, where critics are slightly divided over the strength of the core story, when time has passed, what the film will really earn is a place in history for is its path-breaking graphics and technology.  In fact, both the production story and ultimate results are entirely reminiscent of what could be considered one of Shankar’s previous major revolutions back in 1998 – Jeans.
Jeans was another Shankar film with a long drawn out production, a colossal budget and a family-friendly tale of love & hijinx that broke box office records and went onto to become a timeless hit after it premiered. Showing us locales many had not visited before in South Indian cinema, Shankar set a new level for the visual quality of Tamil films with Jeans. And of course, a direct parallel to be drawn with I, could come from the fact that many Tamil cinema fans would tell you that, aside from seeing the wonders of the world, the scenes that stuck in their mind were those of the mind-boggling graphics of 1998 – to see dancing twin Aishwarya Rai’s and skeletons doing Bharathanatyam (legendary work by the late, great special effects artist S.T. Venki).  It’s safe to say that audiences were “mersalayitten” back in the late ‘90s after seeing “Kannodu Kanbathellam”, and now that same feeling has returned with I – even if just for that one song video alone. 
I is beyond most of what any normal person could concoct in their subconscious. Whether or not the complexity of the story has lived up to expectations people have drummed up over the years is up for debate, but what is certain is that Shankar has changed the level of the playing field when it comes to what it will take to wow us in terms of graphics now, much like he did before with Jeans, Indian and Kaadhalan, to name a few. 
From now on, I think it’s safe to say that, with the magical dreams Shankar has woven in his latest film, technology and effects in Tamil cinema will be judged on a basis of B.I and A.I – before and after “I”.

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