Directed by Jose Sunny | Reviewed by Sabarno Sinha
It is not every day that one comes across a film that is genuinely Romantic in spirit- a film that is reminiscent of the way Wordsworth and Coleridge dealt with nature and human nature, intertwining and combining the way, in their imaginative way to talk about the common problems of humanity. After a very long search, I think I have found a film very close to that idea: I am Mikhael.
Sunny and Sebastian have created a spectacular film which hits home due to the problem it deals with: deforestation and ownership of nature. Nature belongs to all of us and is where humans have been born from and where they should return to. However, in the capitalist market where money is able to buy anything and everything, nature must bow down to human demands and be confined to become private property instead of being common ground for all. At the end of the day, who is the legitimate possessor of a piece of land? A man who lived in it for 30 years, guarded and protected it without looking for profit or a company that wishes to destroy the foliage therein and turn it into a tourist spot? Laws might state that the one who pays must be given the land but the voice of our heart tells us that if we were to look at the benefit of nature, undoubtedly, the man who took care of the land should be given its responsibility.
Sunny sets the film in this world where Mikhael, a man who ran away from home at a young age and spent 30 years in a piece of wild land that is almost like a jungle, faces the risk of eviction as an MNC claims that the land is theirs. Dr. Alok, the psychologist, understands where Mikhael comes from and tries to bring justice to him. Even though lawyers refuse this case which is based on no legal grounds, they have a change of heart and are moved by this entire battle. There might not be an action-packed drama or a thrilling plot in this story; in fact, it lacks a concrete story, one might even say. But what it offers instead is, without any second thought, fulfilling to the one looking for it: raw and untethered emotion. I am Mikhael is packed with emotion which bursts out from every shot and every scene much like the works of the Romantic poets.
The non-linear narrative which is replete with flashbacks does become a bit difficult to follow but it is not such that one is unable to comprehend the sequence of events taking place. The cinematography of this film is, and I am not exaggerating here, worth dying for. The subtle colours, the deep focus and the overall shot composition is marvelous and shows craftsmanship of the highest grade. The rich, bold and sweet music is so palpable and emotional that not only does it complement the scenes but actually accentuate the earthy feelings that one can get while watching this film.
I usually don’t talk about these elements but I must for this particular film: the make-up and costumes of the film have really impressed me. They look extremely realistic and the make-up is consistent and help display exactly what the shots demand. The cinematographer has done an excellent job in this film for they have been able to portray every emotion that the script demanded and nothing can be more satisfying than the director’s vision being reflected in the finished product.
Before I conclude my review, I must cite one scene which particularly moved me: the one where the suited and well-dressed men ridiculed Mikhael right before his death. He collapsed to the ground and looked at all the men encircling him, criticizing him, mocking him. Somehow, that scene resonated within me and aroused a feeling that came from deep within, I felt. I am Mikhael is not a film for everyone for it does not promise to help the audience escape reality or forget about their own problems. Through the beautiful embodiment of the son of Nature in Mikhael, it talks about all the problems that we ourselves cause through our unending greed and desire at the expense of Nature, who we have shamelessly made into a tool.
Sabarno Sinha is an undergraduate student of English at Jadavpur University, Kolkata. He was active in the debating and MUN circuit in Kolkata. Sabarno frequently writes short stories, poems and screenplays for short films. A lover of world cinema, Sabarno finds pleasure in watching contemporary as well as classic films from Japan, Italy and Germany among others.