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I, Me aur Main (“I, Me and Myself”) is the uplifting tale about a selfish bastard who gets everything he wants without any real conflict or consequences. Congratulations to director Kapil Sharma and writer Devika Bhagat for creating a singularly unrelatable movie.
The selfish bastard in question is Ishaan (John Abraham). An introductory scene features young Ishaan taking credit for a paper airplane made by his older sister, Shivani. When Shivani grabs the plane from Ishaan, their mother punishes Shivani for picking on precious Ishaan. Mom repeatedly calls Ishaan “the best,” thus creating the unbearable egomaniac at the center of the film.
Emblematic of the film’s poor construction, the flashback starts with the subtitle, “Pune: many years ago.” The next scene, set in the present day, has the subtitle, “Mumbai: 25 years later.” Why not just say, “Pune: 25 years ago” in the first place? Is it some kind of short-term mystery?
Ishaan grows up to be a completely self-centered prick. His girlfriend, Anushka (Chitrangada Singh), is a successful lawyer who cooks for Ishaan and cleans up after him. Even though he’s a wealthy record producer, he expects Anushka to pay for all of the groceries she uses to feed him. He also cheats on her with other women.
Having endured three years of Ishaan’s fecklessness with no hope of a commitment in sight, Anushka finally kicks Ishaan out. Ishaan’s sister — the only member of his family to have met Anushka — takes Anushka’s side in the breakup. Shivani (Mini Mathur) knows her brother better than anyone, after all.
Ishaan lives on his own for all of a day before his mother abandons her husband in Pune to move in with her helpless adult son. He responds by nagging his mother.
Ishaan’s new neighbor is Gauri (Prachi Desai), a Manic Pixie Dream Girl sent from screenplay heaven to turn Ishaan into a likable person. It doesn’t work. Ishaan continues to be a dick until even his mother has had enough. When it comes time to make the morally correct choice in a climactic scene with Anushka, even she lets him off the hook. Writer Bhagat is determined that everything go right for Ishaan.
Why? What is so great about him? He’s utterly meritless. One of the great things about movies is the chance to experience a kind of justice that doesn’t usually exist in the real world. I, Me aur Main is about a rich, handsome guy getting everything he wants without any comeuppance. There’s no escapism in that. It’s just an unfortunate fact of life.
Case in point is John Abraham. Here’s an actor who seems to get all of his roles based on his muscular physique and not on his acting abilities. He’s never been forced to work on his craft or play any characters that aren’t charming louts. Casting him in this role was a mistake. A toned torso doesn’t make Ishaan worthy of a happy ending.
The women in the film perform well under the strain of Ishaan’s sexism, another of his fine qualities. Singh is strong and resolute as Anushka, the real hero of the film for being the first person in Ishaan’s life to ever reject him. Desai is cute as Gauri, but her character is undermined when she, too, turns selfish in the end.
Consider I, Me aur Main a cautionary tale for parents: Make your children self-confident. Don’t make them self-absorbed.
- I, Me aur Main at Wikipedia
- I, Me aur Main at IMDb
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl
Most times I envy the job of critics, for who wouldn’t want a job that involves watching movies. Some times, I pity them for it. This is one of those times. Not being able to give a skip to movies that sound rank bad, and going for them only if reviews surprise you, is a serious professional hazard.
I’ll never get those 105 minutes back, Sharad. 😉
Great! As soon as I saw the trailer for this, I knew it would be rubbish. It totally seems like a ridiculous film which has like no meaning whatsoever. Definitely going to avoid this one!
The trailer didn’t sound interesting anyways!
Btw I hate movies where preferential treatment is given to certain characters.The last film I remember where I thought this happened was SOTY.I felt the makers were biased to Abhimanyu(Siddharth malhotra).He was the ultimate winner,no matter how selfish,arrogant,manipulative he is;He gets the girl and he is also depicted as the good guy who gives up.I simply hated the movie for it(though there were others reasons to despise the movie as well)!I don’t think I’ll like this.
That irks me, too, Anushka. It’s this notion that the audience will automatically identify with and like the main character just because s/he is THE HERO, regardless of whether the character is worth liking. I attribute it to lazy screenplay writing and poor direction.
But it is also true(like you mentioned) that not always good things happen to good people.Some people are just lucky irrespective of the kind of people they are!Truth of life.
I also agree with John being a poor actor.I think,He and Katrina Kaif are still there in the industry just because of their sex appeal.
Anushka: I completely agree with you about SOTY. And even though I also felt that Abhimanyu was given preferential treatment, in the overall scheme of things, both the male characters got what they wanted.
Abhimanyu from day one was ambitious, arrogant and a dick. Poor orphan boy wanted to be on top of the world… and he got all of it. While Rohan, despite wealth and parents, just wanted to follow his dreams, be loved and find his place in the world… which he got.
I was initially upset that Abhimanyu ‘got the girl’, but afterwards realized that both characters ultimately ‘won’ in their own ways. It maybe went against the grain of the typical Bollywood ‘happy ending’.
Glad you agree there,Shah Shahid.The supposed romance that we were shown onscreen was so shallow..and plastic!I couldn’t think of any reason why Shanaya would go with Abhimanyu.(also we have no idea what happened in all those years)..In that way,I thought atleast Varun was a good guy.And I actually rooted for Varun all the way only to realize that even his triumph(the trophy) was hollow.
And LOL I didn’t realize that all of them got what they wanted .Good catch!Anyways,in my opinion the film was too ‘glossy’ and ostentatious to be taken so seriously.So all I expected was Bollywood popcorn fun! 🙂
I feel your pain. I was on Team Rohan throughout too. Stupid Abhi! You wanna know why the love story didn’t make sense? Because SOTY isn’t about the girl/guy love story… It’s a Bromance!
Also I agree with you. I felt the movie was being too damn serious about itself. The 1st scene makes it look like a horrible ass tragedy happened. So they weren’t friends anymore. Big freakin’ deal. The entire plot was too overly dramatized and dragged out. If the movie stayed true to it’s light hearted and glossy nature by being a li’l jokey, it would’ve been fine. Should’ve taken some hints from 3 IDIOTS.
I didn’t think I’d be watching this one, and now I probably won’t be. One thing I don’t understand about some Bollywood writers: Did they miss the day they taught Screenplay 101? Set Up, Conflict, Resolution. They forget though, that the resolution for movies like this, isn’t a big action scene, but more the internal growth of a character originally set up as flawed and immoral. It’s not what happens to the guy, it’s who the guy is and what he becomes by the end.
Sounds to me like John’s character has no such growth, and his brief torment seems to me Time Served for the other characters.
I have to slightly disagree with you about Johnny’s chops. He’s a good actor, given the role and Director to get it out of him. I’m looking forward to him playing a (mostly bare chested if the Trailers are any indication) gangster in SHOOTOUT AT WADALA.
It’s amazing, Shahid, how often character growth is missing in mainstream Bollywood fare. I wonder if it’s a fear that audiences won’t accept a flawed character as a lead. Because he (since it’s usually a he, not a she) starts out perfect, there’s no room to grow. All the conflict is generated externally, not internally.
I caught part of Spielberg’s WAR OF THE WORLDS (aka MINORITY REPORT 2, according the current Bollywood definition of “sequel”) on TV the other day and was struck by how much character development happens in the movie. Yes, the main story is about big fricking aliens wrecking stuff, but most of the growth Tom Cruise’s character undergoes comes under pressure from his kids, not the aliens. He’s a disinterested, absent dad who has to learn how to manage his resentful teenage son and his high-strung daughter while the whole world explodes around him. Can you imagine what a WAR OF THE WORLDS reboot would look like in the hands of some of Bollywood’s less talented writers?
Given how few directors want John to play anything other than a rich, buff guy, I’m glad he’s shifting his career focus to producing. He had the wisdom to back VICKY DONOR, so I’m looking forward to his future work behind the camera more than his present work in front of it. I hope SHOOTOUT AT WADALA is good. I can’t get over the fact that, in the ’80s, nobody was as beefy and cut as he is. I wish he would’ve cut back on his lifting for the sake of placing his character in historical context. Maybe it will make sense in the film, but in the trailer, all I saw was “John Abraham.”
It’s funny you bring up WAR OF THE WORLDS. I actually always use that movie as an example of proper character development. I loved that despite a movie about Aliens, the focus (if one is watching) is more about Cruise’s character than the Sci Fi explosions. The story is ABOUT the relationship of these 3 characters set against the back drop of an Alien invasion.
I also admired Cruise (who for all intents & purposes can be called the Shahrukh Khan of Hollywood) for taking on a role that’s not in any way ‘heroic’, even after the shit hits the fan, he doesn’t exhume qualities of bravery or unnecessary machismo. If only Bollywood actors would dare to take such risks without there being a ‘lovable rogue’ angle to it.
I agree with you. John is basically used similar how women are used in Bolllywood for their looks and body. NO SMOKING, AASHAYEIN, ZINDA are the very few exceptions where I think John was amazing. It’s during these that I noticed his skill, which till date has been under utilized by every filmmaker. There was a time where John took a few risks, but then he became popular again and went back to his mainstream ‘hot boy’ roles.
I’m looking forward to SHOOTOUT AT WADALA because it reunites him with ZINDA director.
Some movies from Bollywood do build characters. and they succeed. Even if they pitch as accomplished actors as Nana Patekar against as impoverished ones as John. I recollect ‘Taxi No. 9211’ being one such film. Both Nana and John are characters with negative shades in the beginning. It takes the entire movie to build their characters and leaves the viewer liking and empathising with both the characters who are poles apart in economic terms but so similar in the challenges they face in life.
I agree that there are a lot of good examples in Hindi films, Sharad, though I haven’t seen “Taxi No. 9211” myself. Even “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge” is really all about character development. If Raj doesn’t grow up in time, the enthusiasm and confidence Simran has at the start of the film will be forever extinguished as she laments having lost control of her own fate. I just wish character development was executed more consistently in Hindi films since it’s Chapter 1 in virtually every screenwriting book.
TAXI NO. 9211 was decent, and the characterization was pretty good. But that movie was inspired by (a true inspiration, and not a copy) from Ben Affleck & Samuel L. Jackson starred CHANGING LANES, which kind of featured similar characters and emotions.
Thanks Shahid! I will watch changing lanes. Unfortunately most good Bollywood films are ‘inspired.’
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