Tamil Reviews

I Review: Shankar Extreme

There’s something unsettling about watching a bunch of body-builders – all bulging forearms, biceps and abs, glistening with oil, and robed scantily. For the better part of an hour. I like my men modestly clothed, thank you very much.


But that explains a great deal. Like why Arnold Schwarzenegger was invited to the movie’s audio launch, for instance. A gym for men that features prominently in I is named after him. Arnold Gym.

More specifically, ஆர்னால்டு ஜிம்.

Which quite succinctly (and perhaps, unknowingly) – captures the essence of the movie. Lingesan (an unrecognisable Vikram) is a body-builder plucked out of a squalid housing-board society. He idolizes Diya (Amy Jackson,  whose lip sync is disconcertingly off,  a la Urmila Matondkar in Indian), a model who graces his TV screen. While Lingesan lusts after body-building titles, Diya lives for the next big advertisement.


I is a Shankar extreme. It employs the director’s favourite trope over three long hours. A guy who really isn’t what he seems. Gentleman’s Kicha, Anniyan’s Ambi, and now, I’s Lingesan. Indian, Jeans and Enthiran were just as formulaic, with minor variations. But all of them, quintessentially, had a multi-dimensional hero at the fore. I though, is suspiciously Anniyan in nature, with a dash of the elderly Kamal Haasan from Indian.

Shankar always flirted with technology and science in his movies – sometimes warfare, too – and I isn’t any different. Attribute it to writers SuBa or, perhaps to the director himself, but the script has a distinct Tamil pulp fiction flavour to it; except, this doesn’t come bound as a 100-page novella.

Sujatha is missed. A Shankar favourite, he had been on board all of his biggest grossers, and his writing was quite at home on the screen.

He turned Shankar’s scripts into movies.

I, on the other hand, is just as flashy, but there’s no Sujatha here to rein in some of the director’s eccentricities…and eroticisms. The songs – dozen a minute – feature some distasteful visuals. Shankar loves anything out of the ordinary; and as is the custom, his songs bear the brunt of his…creativity.


A bike that Vikram rides suddenly becomes a woman, with a shiny metallic body to boot, followed by a phone (with a strategically placed dial-pad), a set of weights, and then a television…which suddenly sprouts arms and legs…and a neon chest.

Shankar is quite brazen in I. How these frames passed the censors without a squeak would remain a source of mystery, for these certainly aren’t ‘universal’ in nature, the hastily-scrawled ‘A’ notwithstanding.


Santhanam is the director’s child here. While Lingaa proved that Santhanam is capable of comedy even when he is not derogatory, I moved him back several paces. Here, a drag queen is subjected to brutal verbal abuse in the name of comedy.


Shankar also slips in little tributes to himself.  When Lingesan is introduced, he flexes his muscles to a mellowed (with minor, deliberate alterations) strain of Kumari from Anniyan. There are references to Chitti the Robot, and this Indian number is held on to as well. I almost expect a few sly references to the Oscars, but much to my disappointment, that never happens.



A neighbour of mine, though, harboured a much bigger grouse. One of the villains in the movie is seen wearing a Tim Duncan jersey. “He is an awesome guy,” he grumbled loudly, “why is the villain wearing it?”


[accordion title = ‘Spoiler. But not really’]There’s no monster in I. Not physically anyway. The whiskered being that we encounter in the trailer is metaphorical. He isn’t part of the script, no more than the computer-generated snake in Mudhalvan was.[/accordion]


The I review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have an advertising relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.