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“I AM is a triumph of 400 people”

It was a gathering of talented people at the Screen Preview of I AM at the Express Gallery in Express Towers,Mumbai,on Thursday.

Written by EXPRESS FEATURES SERVICE | Published: April 9, 2011 3:48:42 am

The cast and director of I AM on the making of this crowd-funded film and its importance in today’s society

It was a gathering of talented people at the Screen Preview of I AM at the Express Gallery in Express Towers,Mumbai,on Thursday. Present at the occasion were director-producer of the film Onir,actors and co-producers Sanjay Suri and Juhi Chawla and other co-actors,Nandita Das and Rahul Bose. I AM weaves together the stories of four characters — Afia,Megha,Abhimanyu and Omar — who have to deal with different issues and make certain difficult choices. “It wasn’t like I sat down and jotted down all the issues. The four stories just about fell into place over a period of time. Some of them came through personal experiences,others because they seemed relevant,” said Onir. The four stories,however,are linked together using a single narrative thread and the stories of some of the characters overlap with the others.

However,what makes the film special is the use of the crowd-funding concept to generate capital to produce it. “It is a triumph of 400-odd people who have pooled in money to bring out this film,” said Suri,who is ecstatic with the response they got when they decided to get funds for this film by posting about it on social networking sites. Suri,who plays the character of the sexually abused

Abhimanyu,emphasised that stories like these need to be taken to the mass audience. “Nearly 53 per cent of the children in India are sexually abused. This is a huge statistic. While we have the medium,we should talk about it and make people more aware,” he said.

For Chawla,who has made a shift from commercial cinema to realistic cinema,working with Onir has been one of the most memorable experiences of her life. When Onir asked her to play Megha,a Kashmiri Pundit,she was immediately convinced about the role. “I remember instantly liking the story,but I had a lot of questions regarding the character,which Onir patiently responded to,” she recalled. Das,too,signed on the dotted line soon after Onir had narrated the script to her. “My character in the film makes the choice of having a child with the help of a sperm donor. This film gives a strong message of how each one of us has the right to make his or her own choices,” she said.

Bose,who is known for his meaningful roles in independent films,plays the role of a homosexual in this film. When asked if he had any inhibitions playing the role,he was quick to respond. “Actors do not want to play homosexual characters,because they fear their careers will be in jeopardy. I don’t have a career,” joked Bose. He,however,insisted that this film is very relevant in our times because it talks about the various kinds of discrimination in society. “We are constantly judged for what we are in society. Each story in the film deals with the discrimination we face. They are all real experiences which are relatable to everyone who watches them.”

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