Joined: 01 November 2005
|Omkara - Omkara Will Make Shakespeare Happy|
|<>document.write('Faridoon Shahryar, ') Faridoon Shahryar, IndiaGlitz [Friday, July 28, 2006]|
"Saif has eaten the whole film," gushed a fellow viewer as the credits list rolled down. It was a poignant site to see the standing audience to stay where they were and register who did what. For a first day first show in a premier multiplex in Mumbai (In spite of the rains) the numbers were surprisingly overwhelming. Vishal Bharadwaj's 'Omkara' certainly lived up to the audience expectations as well leaving them with the expression: Wow-what-was-that! For, the narrative of this adaptation of Shakespeare's Othello is a unique interspersing of Hollywood Western with a flavour of Shekhar Kapoor's 'Bandit Queen'. I completely agree with the viewer who seemed heartily impressed with Saif Ali Khan. His nasty act is as memorable as Gabbar Singh. If he wins a National Award for this one, I would say he deserves it ('Hum Tum' was more of a mother's gift Saifu, wouldn't you agree!).
Omkara Shukla (Othello, Ajay Devgan) is a dreaded gangster-cum-henchman of a notorious politician Bhaisahab (Duke, Naseeruddin Shah). His two most trusted sleuths Langda Tyagi (Iago, Saif Ali Khan) and Kesu Firangi (Cassio, Viveik Oberoi) are willing to do anything for him. They spoil the marriage party of Rajju (Roderigo, Deepak Dobriyal) with Dolly (Desdemona, Kareena Kapoor) as she has confessed her love for Omi. Bhaisahab forces Dolly's father to bless the two lovers. Omi is a terribly focused individual who climbs the stairs of success. The conflict starts when Omi selects Keshu as his successor (Bahubali), leaving long time lieutenant Langda outraged. His wounds are pricked by Rajju challenging him to do something about his sorry plight in spite of years of loyalty.
Langda starts plotting Kesu's downfall by planting seeds of doubt in Omkara's mind about Dolly's alleged love affair with Kesu. In a masterstroke he uses the village heartthrob Billo Chaman Bahar (Bianca, Bipasha Basu) by scripting situations that enrages her lover Kesu. Bahubali Kesu, a teetotaler gets drunk on repeated provocation and the ruckus caused by him results in differences between the master and the pupil. The hanky of Othello is replaced by a traditional 'Kamarband' that Omi gifts Dolly. Langda's wife Indu (Emelia, Konkana Sen Sharma) steals the gift of love as her husband had always urged her to do the same. How Tyagi uses this article of faith in hitting the nail in the Coffin of Trust forms the crux of the story.
Vishal Bharadwaj, the captain of the ship knows precisely what he is doing. The poetic visuals, the dangerous power of jealousy, conviction in the actions of every character and to have the capability to understand the darker side of love makes him seem like a seasoned campaigner in his merely fourth outing as a director (The Blue Umbrella is yet to be released). The master stroke was reserved for the last where he conveys an entire situation through gestures and a matrix of simple dissolves. His choice of cinematographer in Tasadduq Hussain (Debuting with this film) shows his visionary bent of mind. For, the earthen, desert-sand-looking-colour of the entire film makes it an absolute visual treat. The camera at many an occasion doesn't aim for a perfect shot. It just veers around from nowhere and shocks with the possibilities. Even the love making scene between Kareena and Ajay is smeared with a lot of dignity.
Music by Vishal is a rare collection of dazzling compositions. All the songs are brilliantly produced and entrance for their sheer originality and entertainment value. 'O Saathi Re', 'Omkara'. 'Beedi Jalaiye Le', 'Lakad' and 'Namak' are first rate. You can include the rest of them in favourites list as well. Gulzar's lyrics are expectedly gut-wrenchingly-exciting. When I started searching for the credits of Dialogue writer then the name of Vishal Bharadwaj surprised me. For the man is too smooth to have written the excessive expletives with such ease. But then in the context of the film, the cuss words have to be a part of the idiom and the strata of the society that the film is talking about. Somehow it reminds you of 'Bandit Queen', but that's where the comparison ends.
In the acting department I can go on and on raving about Saif's once-in-a-lifetime performance. It would be boring to say but I am not the only one who must have been totally bowled over by him. The crew cut hair, the beetle-leaves-stained teeth, uncouth-ugly look, you-just-can't-trust-me expressions and 360 degree departure from his 'Salaam Namaste', 'Kal Ho Na Ho', 'Dil Chahta Hai' cool-dude persona hits you hard in the face. It is truly great of him to have accepted such a role as this. He is a Rockstar and gives you a lot of entertainment value in an otherwise dark film.
Ajay Devgan as 'Omkara' is reliably good. We've seen him before in this dark-brooding-avatar, so in a way he didn't really do anything that he hasn't done before. 'Aparahan' and 'Company' are two films where he has played this part with slight variations here and there. Kareena Kapoor in her deglamorised look performs well. To be fair to her she doesn't have much to do in the film in spite of being the cause of the fatal jealousy. Even though Konkana has a relatively smaller role, still, her performance level is simply towering. Check out her favourite line, 'Hansi badi mehngi ho gayi hai.' Ajay is right when he said in his IndiaGlitz interview that Konkana is a Powerful Actress. Viveik's Kesu is an unbridled reservoir of passion. He is a picture of the co-existence of earnestness-n-lust. Bipasha on her part sizzles like the delirious fizz of a newly uncorked Champagne Bottle. Her naughty moves in 'Beedi Jalayle' and 'Namak' shall ensure 'Omkara's' success in the smaller centers or bring a whistle to the lips of the front benchers. The surprise packet is debutante actor Deepak Dobriyal who impresses with his Rajju act. He may be the weakling of the lot but he ends up playing a crucial role in the culmination of this tragedy.
Finally if you ask me about the chances of 'Omkara' at the Box Office, then it may have a decent run. The slow pace and too-much-of-blood-n-gore may be a deterrent for those seeking uninhibited entertainment. But to be fair to the makers, there is a definite market both in India as well as abroad which will be interested in this fantastic Shakespearean adaptation. I would say, check out 'Omkara'. It's an Experience just to see Saif' stained smile. Mr Shakespeare you can rest in peace. Your heritage is in safe hands with Vishal Bharadwaj.
Joined: 04 April 2006
Joined: 16 January 2005
Joined: 04 January 2006
Joined: 26 April 2006
|love lost: Ajay Devgan and Kareena Kapoor in Omkara|
Dir: Vishal Bhardwaj Cast: Ajay Devgan, Saif Ali Khan, Viveik Oberoi, Kareena Kapoor
Plot: Right before the opening sequence of the film, Vishal Bhardwaj declares that Omkara is based on Shakespeare's Othello. Like me, if you haven't read the Bard's work or are clueless about who Iago or Cassio are, then surrendering yourself to Vishal's vision becomes easier. The story, though simple from the face of it, is full of layers of deceit, treachery, jealousy and love. Omi Shukla (Ajay Devgan) is the chieftain of a village in the interiors of Uttar Pradesh. He is a man of few words, letting his gun do most of the talking. Langda Tyagi (Saif Ali Khan) stands second in the hierarchal rank along with Kesu (Viveik Oberoi). The trio report to Bhaisaab (Naseerudin Shah), who is the key player in the regional politics of the area, holding the dream of representing his village in the Lok Sabha. When Omi kidnaps Dolly (Kareena Kapoor) from her mandap, the incident sets the ball rolling to events that mould and shape the true essence of the film. The turning point comes when Omi chooses Kesu as his successor, incurring the wrath of Langda Tyagi. Using jealousy as a weapon, Tyagi decides to take revenge by creating malice between Omi and Dolly. He uses his sidekick Raju (Deepak Dobriyal) to deceive Omi into believing that Kesu and Dolly are having an affair. Tyagi's wife Indu (Konkona) plays a pivotal role during the climax.
Acting: Among the cast, there's one man who will remain with you even as the curtains fall — that's Langda Tyagi the character, and not Saif Ali Khan. For the first time in his career, Saif makes you forget the sophisticated, suave, actor who only wears Diesel and smokes Marlboro. Right from his limp to the way he mouths expletives (there are lots of them), Saif impresses from the moment he appears in the frame. I can't think of any other actor playing Omkara as effortlessly as Ajay. After a certain point, you start wondering if the Bard wrote his play keeping Devgan in mind. As the insecure, exceedingly vulnerable, yet overtly romantic Omi, Ajay score more brownie points than he has in any of his recent releases. Viveik Oberoi's Keshu gets overshadowed by his much talked about guitar playing (which, incidentally, steals the thunder from him!). Kareena impresses in a deglamourised avatar as Dolly. Her scenes with Ajay are fantastic; their lovemaking scene creating the correct sparks without making you squirm in your seat. Konkona doesn't let her Bengali roots come in the way of portraying a colourful Bihari woman who likes asking questions and getting answers. Here's an actress who can skillfully mould herself to suit the requirements of her director. Debutant Deepak Dobriyal is a rare find — creating a niche for himself in his first film, the actor easily stands up to Saif's firehouse performance. Bipasha's Beedi and Namak numbers light up an otherwise dark film. She looks fabulous, but doesn't seem too comfortable with her Bihari dialect, especially with her scenes with Viveik.
What's hot: The film has style and panache written all over it, right from frame one where you see Saif on his haunches on a hillock spitting through tobacco-stained teeth. There have been numerous interviews where Vishal has spoken about the process of making the film, immersing himself into the role of not just directing, but also taking care of the music, script, dialogues and a lot more. The hard work has paid off when you look at the film as an ensemble put together to tell a riveting story. Apart from the brilliant cinematography, which captures everything from a water pump to the hauntingly mesmerising plateaus of Wai, the film also boasts of a set that doesn't look like one from any angle. As the captain of the ship, Vishal excels on all fronts. He effortlessly succeeds in creating a film that easily overshadows his adaptation of Macbeth (Maqbool) in terms of creativity and style. Omkara is a film that should be studied, watched with curiosity and revisited a few years down the line.
What's not: At times, you feel Vishal is over the top in his effort to dazzle. He's got all the works to make a brilliant picture and is going full throttle to really show his cinema off. But then that's the creative license every filmmaker proudly flaunts. The Bihari dialect is tough to get used to. Some dialogues are hard to decipher, while others are drowned under heavy accents.
Bottom line: Mr Bhardwaj, please take a bow. Not just for making a masterpiece, but also for bringing Shakespeare into mainstream cinema with such eloquence.
Joined: 05 January 2005
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