What I truly appreciate about Rajat Kapoor and Saurabh Shukla's cinema is that they venture into zones not many film-makers would dare to penetrate. Just when most film-makers focus on everything else but the story while attempting a movie, the duo makes a genuine attempt to narrate a story that is simplistic to the core. The slice of life film may or may not strike a chord, but you cannot refute the fact that it's made with the precise objective of narrating an attention-grabbing account.
I M 24, directed by Saurabh Shukla, unravels relationships that hinge on lies. In addition, Shukla attempts to narrate two stories concurrently -- of a middle-aged writer and his pal and also of two aspiring actors who are struggling to find a foothold in the glam world.
Years ago, the concept of pen pals was hugely popular. We would wait for weeks/months for our pen pal to reply to our mail. But pen pals are passÃ©. Today, chat rooms help us make new pals at the click of a mouse. In this age of voice calls and video calls, there's no room for lies, yet instances of people lying about their physical/economic status is not uncommon either. That's one part of the story of I M 24.
The second part of I M 24 makes you look at the way some production houses in Bollywood function. You're assured of a few laughs here. But beneath the layer is a love story of two aspiring actors who arrive in the city with stars in their eyes, but not all dreams come true. That's the tragedy of life!
Shukla introduces his characters with dexterity and the two plots co-exist seamlessly till a point. But it becomes a laborious experience as the two stories head towards their respective conclusions. That was an issue with Shukla's last outing PAPPU CAN'T DANCE SAALA and unfortunately, that's the issue with I M 24 as well. Though the run time is perfect [less than 2 hours], Shukla could've shed that extra flab [songs and sequences] from the narrative, making it crisper, compelling and credible.
Saying the truth was always difficult, and lying, they say, is much simpler. Shubendu [Rajat Kapoor] lives by the tougher option. But when this honest, 42-year-old balding writer falls in love with a 22-year-old attractive girl [Manjari Fadnis], he is tempted to lie. What's more, his roommate, Gagan [Ranvir Shorey], who swears by the magic of lies, helps him cook up stories.
What follows is cover-ups, goof-ups and contradicting tales. Shubendu begins enjoying this ride. But, at some point, the madness has to stop.
Like I pointed out at the very outset, Shukla chooses to narrate two identifiable stories and the writing keeps you involved for most parts. It's only towards the latter part -- when Rajat and Manjari arrive in the restaurant, to be specific -- that things begin to go downhill. The sequence at the beauty pageant and also the manner in which Ranvir and Neha's tale concludes is amateurish. The wrap up, frankly, is contrived and a complete compromise, from the writing point of view. Besides, the film could've done without a song or two, although the haunting track, 'Do Lafzon Ki Hain Dil Ki Kahani' from THE GREAT GAMBLER, makes you relive the wonderful song. Also, Fuwad Khan's cinematography is a plus.
Shukla does handle a few moments with flourish. Though it has a cluster of actors who have been seen too often in a movie [Rajat, Ranvir, Neha, Shukla himself], you don't find their acts repetitive. Rajat Kapoor is natural to the core. Ranvir Shorey is fun to watch. Neha Dhupia is endearing. Manjari Fadnis suits the part. Saurabh Shukla, Lillete Dubey, Vijay Raaz and Delnaaz Paul are wonderful in their respective roles. Arjun Rampal and Karan Singh Grover appear in cameos.
On the whole, I M 24 appeals in parts, not in totality!