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By: Taran Adarsh, IndiaFM
Monday, January 01, 2007
Cinema-going experiences, like culinary encounters, can either stimulate you or put you off completely. When you enter a cineplex to watch Arjun Rampal's first outing as a producer, I See You, you expect to watch a soft-on-your-senses, feel-good multiplex movie since the promotions have been very specific, very direct on that front.
I See You, directed by debutante Vivek Agrawal, is targeted at the multiplex junta, but right intentions don't necessarily translate into right films. The problem with I See You is that it works in bits and spurts, not in entirety.
It's not blasphemous to be inspired by a Hollywood film [Just Like Heaven; starring Reese Witherspoon, Mark Ruffalo], but writer Suresh Nair and director Vivek Agrawal should've ensured that the desi adaptation appeals to Indian sensibilities and is captivating enough from start to end. Sure, I See You has its share of interesting moments, but the recipe [screenplay] used for cooking this dish lacks a few vital ingredients.
To sum up, I See You is the kind of film that works best on the tube or DVD circuit. As far as its theatrical business is concerned, it might find its share of advocates in a handful of multiplexes of Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore mainly, but even that segment of viewers would be minimal.
Another factor that goes against the film is its release period. To expect viewers to rush to a nearby theatre on 31st December [Sunday] or 1st January [Monday] would be foolhardy. The cinema attendance goes downhill during those days and expecting the business to pick up from Tuesday onwards is like expecting snowflakes in Mumbai.
Story: Raj [Arjun Rampal] is the star attraction on the TV show British Raj. One evening, Raj finds an unexpected visitor in his house -- Shivani [Vipasha]. Is he dreaming? Is she for real? At first Raj thinks his friends are out to make a bakra. But he realizes that Shivani is a spirit.
Shivani breezes in and out of his home and office whether he likes it or not. Unfortunately, Raj is the only one who seems to be able to see her or talk to her. His friend Akshay [Chunky Pandey] thinks it's an alibi and also arranges for a meeting with a shrink [Boman Irani] on his wedding anniversary.
Gradually, Raj falls in love with Shivani. But Shivani and Raj have to find answers to questions that led to Shivani's current state.
I See You is a ghost story, but it doesn't belong to the Bees Saal Baad or Bhoot variety. It's not on the lines of Ramsay productions either. A love story revolving around a spirit and an ordinary mortal, the plot focuses more on humor and romance than spine chilling or tense moments.
Although the premise is refreshingly different for Indian audiences, the manner in which writer Suresh Nair and director Vivek Agrawal open the cards is what gives you hiccups. In the first place, no explanations are offered as to why Arjun alone can see Vipasha. Also, she can't touch a telephone, but the twist in the tale has her opening the door of the room where her comatose body lies. How did she manage that? Chalo, maan liya, spirits in Hindi movies can even break into songs and dances, but the opening of the door is like double crossing Arjun since the cop [Michael Maloney] is already at the doorstep.
Even the finale -- the mystery behind Vipasha's accident is solved and the doctor is arrested -- is far from convincing. A few minutes earlier, didn't we see the doctor and a nurse entering Vipasha's room in the hospital and even injecting a drug to put her to sleep forever? So how did the cop [Michael Maloney] reach there from the BBC Studio [he's being interviewed 'Live'] and how did Vipasha suddenly come alive? It's a screenplay of convenience!
In a nutshell, I See You tries too hard to appeal to the heart, but it forgets that moviegoers have thinking minds too.
On the plus side, a few individualistic sequences are well executed. The initial portions -- Arjun refusing to believe Vipasha is a spirit until he visits the hospital -- are interesting. The humor-laden sequences involving Chunky Pandey also keep you in splits. The finale -- Vipasha disappearing from Arjun's arms [faulty writing] -- is well handled too. Ditto for the end -- Arjun introducing himself to Vipasha at an eatery -- is worthy of note.
Vivek Agrawal had the opportunity to play with special effects since the protagonist is a spirit, but the storyteller doesn't utilize this aspect in the narrative. Also, his choice of the story is perfect, but not the screenplay. How could he okay a faulty script in the first place? Vishal-Shekhar's music is pleasant. 'Subah Subah' and 'Halo' are two noteworthy tracks in the narrative. In fact, the set dÉcor and choreography [Shiamak Davar] of the 'Halo' track is superb. Ashok Mehta's cinematography is delightful. Dialogues [Niranjan Iyengar] are strictly kaam-chalau.
I See You rests on Arjun's shoulders. Arjun is efficient in a role that doesn't really demand histrionics. He has proved his credentials in the past and his performance in this film is at par with his earlier works. He works best in the dramatic portions. Vipasha may not be gorgeous to look at, but she's a decent actor.
Chunky Pandey is only getting better with every release. He registers an impact. Kirron Kher gets very little screen time. Boman Irani tries hard to make you laugh. Sonali Kulkarni also has a miniscule part. Sophie Chaudhary adds to the glamour quotient. Her scenes with Arjun [especially the one at the start, when Vipasha lands up at the studio] are truly funny. Michael Maloney [the Hindi-speaking angrez cop] is good.
On the whole, I See You could've been an interesting fare, but is letdown by a lopsided screenplay. At the box-office, the lack of face-value and an inopportune release period [people don't like to spend New Year in a cinema hall] will only add to its woes.