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23 February 2024

Bollywood review: John Abraham's ‘I, Me Aur Main’ is clearly not his best

By Sneha May Francis

Love makes the world go round, they say, but in ‘I, Me Aur Main’ it made us go round in circles, turning the two-hour lock-up in the theatre dizzying and exhaustive.

The sheer inanity of the plot, where three lives get knotted over matters of the heart and their differences resolved in an impenetrable, hasty manner, is hard to absorb.

Surely, debutant director Kapil Sharma could’ve found a simpler love tale to pitch.

And, with two good-lookers on board, a few hummable tunes and some decent camera work, he could’ve struck a sure-shot box-office winning concoction.

But, no. Kapil tries to do the unimaginable and complicates his own efforts by picking a plot that’s illogical, sluggish, inconsistent and unrealistic. And, to his disadvantage his good-lookers aren’t great performers.

It isn’t like we were expecting to be swept off our feet by Kapil’s dreamy romance, but what was unexpected was his ability to hurt our emotional equilibrium rather strongly.

If anything, ‘I, Me Aur Main’ is confused about what it actually sets out to do.

It started off by claiming to be a breezy romance, later it turned into a messy break-up story, then it shifted back to romance, but side-tracked again to play out a weepy, family drama, only to tie it all together with a lecture on ambition and dreams.

Clearly, Kapil is on a mission to drag us down in his sinking ship.

Writer Devika Bhagat, who co-scripted the ambitious ‘Manorama Six Feet Under’ along with Navdeep Singh and later, the glam-doll rom-com ‘Aisha’, loses the plot the third time round. There are way too many sub-plots, themes and characters that she is unable to give anyone any substantial insight and never allowing us to invest in any character.

The hurried end is just a clear example of this burden.

‘I, Me Aur Main’ is easy on the eye, no doubt, with ample glossy frames that flatter the gorgeous Chitragada Singh and the beefy John Abraham.

If a movie could run merely on superficiality, we’ve got a winner.

Alas, the Bollywood audience has matured in its intake of mush, and seeks much more than a gorgeous legged beauty or a shirtless hero to make them skip a heartbeat.

Ishaan Sabharwal leads a pretty much self-indulgent life, chanting ‘I am the best’ while throwing punches at his mirrored reflection. Even mobile answering machine echoes his self-obsession, ringing out a recorded message that says; “If it’s good-looking, it’s me”.

And, when he isn’t nurturing his bloated ego, he plays music producer, scouting around for new music talents to groom into stars.

His girl-friend of three years and an affluent legal expert Anushka is tolerant of his man-child escapades and houses him, hoping that he’d magically reform and conform to her way of living.

And, when things don’t turn out her way, she packs him off for good.

He, on the contrary, doesn’t let the minor setback injure his ego and continues without any regrets, barring a few occasional fits of jealousy when he spots her with another male friend.

The narrative chugs along, with no real purpose, until he moves into an ordinary neighbourhood, where the chirpy next-door-girl Gauri starts influencing him.

Anushka and Gauri are opposites in manners and style, one attempting to be sophisticated and refined, while the other being free-spirited and bouncy. Yet, both have a go at Ishaan's heart.

Apart from these two women, his life is further complicated with four more women – his ever-grouchy boss, boisterous sister, generous mother and his new discovery.

Barring one male friend, Ishaan’s devoid of any impressionable male bonding. Even references to his dad are distant and unconvincing.

John Abraham loyalists won’t be disappointed, as there’s a lot of complimenting skin-show that should make-up for his unimaginative acting. While there are glimpses of improvements in his performance, images of him squinting a smile and crinkling his face are far too many to take him seriously.

Chitrangada, on the other hand, appears to have sleepwalked into ‘I, Me Aur Main’ from the set of ‘Inkaar’. The hair, outfits and tone, are all too similar. We’d only hope she takes on more significant roles that match her talent.

Prachi Desai, however, isn't convincing as the stylist. She tries too hard to glam up. Surely, her director wasn’t able to guide her accurately, leaving her bouncing around with no real purpose.

Powerhouse performers like Zarina Wahab and Raima Sen are wasted in this chaos.

Taking a cue from Gauri, who advices Ishaan with “put your money where your mouth is”, we’d safely tip you against putting your money (and time) into this movie.

For, this is a love story that doesn't end 'happily ever after', at least not for its audience.