Saturday, 17 November 2007

Om Shanti Om (2007)

Farah Khan, director of Main Hoon Na, presents her next innings at the box office with Om Shanti Om, a homage to the 70’s era of Hindi cinema complete with all the frills and frivolity of new age cinema.

Bollywood. A term which is widely used to describe the Hindi film industry and Om Shanti Om packs in everything that is remotely “Bollywood” looking, sounding and moving to create the ultimate masala potboiler. An inane story which replaces bashful with boastful, magnifying everything to present an in-your face entertainer.

Rewind to the beehive, flared pants, flower print 70’s and a harlequin Om (Shahrukh Khan) explodes onto the screen, gyrating and pouting in full glory, desperate to land a role as a lead hero whilst working as a junior artist.

Om spends most of his time talking to the hoardings of hot sensation, “dreamy girl” Shanti (Deepkia Padukone) a lead actress who Om is bewitched with but it is not until Om saves her from the burning sets of a film studio, that she gives him a flicker of her eyelashes and the two form a bond.

A bond which Om mistakes to be love but in reality is only friendship as Shanti is secretly married to the lecherous Mukesh (Arjun Rampal) a money driven film producer who is planning his next blockbuster “Om Shanti Om”. Mukesh wishes to keep the marriage a secret until the completion of the film but a pregnant Shanti demands he announces their truth to the world much to his dismay.

In his rage, Mukesh mercilessly kills Shanti unaware that Om is witness to the whole incident. Whilst Om desperately tries to play the hero yet again to save his love, Shanti leaves the world…along with Om…only Om is reincarnated as Om Kapoor, son of a starlet and now an A list hero.

After a series of unexplainable flashbacks relating to his previous life, Om ultimately learns the truth of his past and sets out on a mission to undo the sin that Mukesh inflicted upon Shanti and him…this time with the help of a Shanti look alike, who may not be just what she seems…

Om Shanti Om works for two reasons, the comedic elements and the visually stunning dance numbers but a whole load of laughter and glitter can not save a hackneyed storyline which stagnates in the second half. Granted that the film is a tribute to the bygone era of the 70’s and so packs in all the clichés that audiences are familiar with but one misses an innovative and compelling story which is ultimately the backbone of any film.

Farah Khan deserves kudos for being brave enough to mock the all too soporific trends of the industry for example in the Filmfare Award sequence and throughout several other moments in the film. However after an entertaining first half, it is the amalgamation of both the 70’s and the present that leaves the viewer disdained as what starts off as a spoof film turns into a inane paradox in the second half of the films preliminary sentiments.

Khan’s role as Om is anything but path breaking. It does however, offer him the chance to play to the gallery and tap all the right buttons to present a character which is ultimately built around his star image. Whilst physically he may have re-invented himself with the much talked about six packs, it would be far more appealing if Khan presented his acting ability in a new manner instead of depending on the tinsel of big budget films to carry him through in the latter part of his career.

Padukone makes for the essential eye candy which is prevalent in most commercial flicks and delivers a confident debut. However, one wishes that Farah Khan had given her a meatier role where she could have demonstrated her acting abilities to a larger degree rather than appearing mainly as a decorative ornament.

Rampal as the villain is excellent in the first half of the film, fitting to the role as precisely as a tailors stitching pattern. He excels as the ruthless and arrogant Mukesh but in the latter half of the film, he is letdown by a shoddy get up which makes one laugh more at his look rather than grimace at his antics.

Musically, Om Shanti Om caters to almost every mood and with Farah Khan being a seasoned choreographer; the song and dance routines prove to be a showcase for her to display her forte in glory. Whilst “Deewanagi Deewanagi” appeals for its star quotient and "Dhoom Tana" is magnificent for it's presentation and nostalgic element, bringing a smile to the faces of those who have grown up on a healthy dose of Bollywood films. The quintessential item number “Dard-e-disco” with Khan in his gasconading six packs would be any drag queens wet dream for its camp factor.

Om Shanti Om is by no means a poor film; it is however a film that fails to leave a lasting impression. The aim of the director is purely to entertain and she succeeds in doing so but in the meantime, there is little substance within the story.

The death sequence of Om is well executed and makes for gripping drama, ditto for the heated confrontations between Shanti and Mukesh, however such moments come in dribs and drabs. The climax of the film is extremely drawn out and appears to send out the famous “shuffle in your seat” syndrome to its audience when a film refuses to end.

Om Shanti Om makes a lot of commotion and in doing so promises a lot to its viewers yet ends up delivering little, with the end credits rolling sooner than the smoke has settled from this gaudy explosion of Bollywood glory.

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