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Monica: Oru AI Story - an AI's touch on a troubled child

monica oru ai story

"Monica: Oru AI Story" is a thought-provoking film about Swaroop, a 10-year-old boy from Kerala, whose tumultuous journey towards emotional stability is linked to interactions with an AI named Monica.

It explores universal themes of mental health, familial bonds, and the ethical implications of AI in human life.

The film is being hailed as India's first AI-themed film. Director E.M. Ashraf and producer Mansoor Pallur intend the film to prompt discussions on how AI and humans will interact in the future.

The protagonist, Swaroop, is perceived by his family, teachers, peers, and neighbors as a rebellious and troublesome child. His erratic behavior, which includes episodes of violence, is a manifestation of deeper psychological issues such as depression, hyperactivity, and possibly autism.

Child artist Sreepath, portraying Swaroop, delivers a compelling performance, capturing the nuanced emotions of a child misunderstood by his world. His interactions with AI Monica are heartwarming and heartbreaking, illustrating the dual-edged nature of technological companionship.

Often dismissed by the adults around him, Swaroop’s actions are seen as mere nuisances rather than cries for help. His belief that his parents favor his younger sister exacerbates his feelings of alienation.

The narrative takes a hopeful turn when a visiting magician, played by Gopinath Muthukad, at his school, takes a special interest in Swaroop, offering him moments of joy and affection. However, this happiness is short-lived, as the magician’s departure plunges Swaroop back into his isolation.

The arrival of an iPad and an AI named Monica, gifted by a relative, marks a significant shift in Swaroop's life.

Monica becomes a constant companion, providing him with the attention and guidance he desperately craves. This relationship with the AI has a profound positive impact on Swaroop, improving his performance in school and his behavior at home.

Monica fills the void of maternal love in Swaroop’s life, leading him to dream of a day trip with her that blends his desires with cherished memories. He starts seeing Monica as a mother figure.

The film highlights how the lack of parental affection makes Swaroop's mental health issues worse.

As Monica helps Swaroop emerge as a prodigious talent in the IT field, the narrative also highlights the growing distance between Swaroop and his family. However, conflict soon arises between the kid and AI.

The film sensitively portrays the struggles of a young boy grappling with mental health issues.

The film’s exploration of AI as a surrogate for human relationships is both timely and relevant.

The director chose to humanize the AI by casting Aparna Mulberry as Monica and she is seen to be in tune with the child's emotions and memories. This prompts the audience to think about the ethical implications of artificial intelligence in our lives.

Sini Abraham, Manikandan, Kannur Srilatha, Ajay Kallai, Anil Baby, Albert Alex, Subha Kanhangad, P.K. Abdullah, Prasannan Pillai, Vishwanath, Ananda Jyoti, Shijith Manawalan, Hari Kanhangad, Vinju Vishwanath, Preeti Kikkan, Ann Miradev and Hanim Allen are playing other major characters.

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