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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Popular Sizzler Hits the Mark

“Film-makers sell dreams in bottles”, they say. Coming out of the screening of ‘Om Shanti Om’ I am sure to have augmented ‘their’ number by one.

Come Friday afternoon and one needed to click no further than or any news-portal to know all about the two films (the other being Bhansali’s Sawariyaa). ‘Om Shanti Om’ got mixed response as I found out on the net. Some speculated on its hackneyed story-line. Some drew out daggers to dissect the film’s apparent lack of substance, befitting of men used to watching ‘parallel cinema’ in empty multiplexes. I went to watch the film with a blank mind and a subdued eagerness which often accompany film-enthusiasts who have been recently dished out a cinematic dodomaa wrapped in a glittering gift-pack ( in the form of ‘No Smoking’. Ohhh! Don’t even remind me of that).

Watching the noon show of ‘OM SHANTI OM’ this Saturday in a packed house full of mad whistling and wild cheering changed all borrowed perceptions and premonitions about the film. The film is a thorough entertainer. So I thought.

Keeping with the traditions of upholding Bollywood-cliché the film doesn’t miss out on many. Farah Khan in this self-confessed tribute to the 70s has done much better than ‘Main Hoon Naa’, a film I came to despise marginally for its ‘lack of originality in copying’ Matrix-stunts. OSO opens by taking us to the 70’s of Hindi cinema where heroes in chequered suits and heroines in red convertibles (laden with giggling saheliyaan) used to hold sway. Shah Rukh Khan (as Om Prakash Makhija) is his own energetic self as a junior artist with dreams of making it big in the industry. He worships the screen diva, Shantipriya( the beautiful Deepika Padukone), whom he later rescues from a fire and expectedly love ensues between unequals in typical filmi style of yore. Only there is this problem of Arjun Rampal (playing the scheming film producer, Mukesh Mehra) spoiling the love-story for them. But, only for this life-time.

The second half sees a reborn Om Makhija as Om Kapoor(SRK of course) who is also a star-son enjoying all its attendant extravagance. Screaming headaches chase him to the discovery of his pichhlaa janm (previous life’s exploits). Suddenly there is vengeance in the air and a Sandy surfaces (Deepika in shorts, minis, spaghettis and shorts again. Well, that’s how Farah Khan decided to portray today’s modern woman. Goes down fine with the audience it seemed, from their cat-calls and all) to aid Khan in his mission. Then there is a twist in the tail of the tale. And then a happy ending.

The film is a sumptuous salad of all possible clichés ever employed in the services of Hindi cinema. From rebirth to forbidden love, from dreams coming true to poetic justice, from song and dance to filial love, we feel we have seen it all before. But, during the film we actually enjoy absorbing the time-worn plots and sequences, as if rolling them over our tongues to relish their old yet unforgettable tastes. Feeling just a tad nostalgic about the bygone days and their fashion symbols on our way. The spoofs on cine-stars of yesteryears are funny, the lookalikes poorly selected. The two romantic songs in “Ankhon mein teri... and “Main agar kahoon....” are pleasantly melodious and craftily picturised. Shah Rukh is as vibrant as ever, a trait which has assured him his place at the top over the years. The passion which he brings into every character he plays is positively palpable to the audience, even sitting in the last row of a theater.

He does not belie expectations in OSO too. Delivering goods at every given opportunity (especially after an off-beat film like ‘Chak De! India’ did well) he has maintained his ‘Bankable’ status with style and much fanfare through OSO. Deepika Padukone is stunning and looks every bit the screen goddess she portrays in the film. But, only future can tell if she can perform, given a wider scope to actually act rather than just look ‘promising’. Kiron Kher and Sreyas Talpade perform to their brief and come up with flawless performances. Rampal looks menacing in his suits and sideburns. But what takes the cake, as promised, is the 31 star studded song. “ The Song ” was enjoyable to the core (I actually counted all the 31 appear as others climbed up their seats for a little jig). It was mind-numbing entertainment. Totally in keeping with the Hindi filmi style.

No two ways about it.

‘Om Shanti Om’ will surely be a big commercial success. It might take some beating to equal its success even in the coming few years, I guess. And it will establish one thing beyond the scope of any doubt once again. That being, “We love our Masala films”. Even today.

Whether the advent of low-budget-meaningful-cinema ever overtake the grand success of magnum clichés like OSO waits to be seen in the future. Who knows.


Picture abhie baaki hain mere dost.”

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