Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Omkara (2006) - Hindi Movie Review

Ranking: 3.5/5

Cast: Ajay Devgan, Saif, Vivek Oberoi, Kareena Kapoor, Konkona Sen Sharma, Bipasha Basu
Director: Vishal Baradhwaj
Vishal Baradhwaj

Yes it is an adaptation of Othello by Shakespeare. Did I enjoy the movie? I am not too sure...I cannot explain why but I surely had a bad after taste after I walked out of the theater. Let me explain the story and then let me see if I can try and explain why I did not enjoy the movie.

Omkara (Othello) - played by Ajay Devgan is a leader of a gang in a town in UP/Bihar. As much of a leader that he is he is also led easily by his gang members conniving plans easily. He can be a romantic lover and suspicious husband too. He lacks trust in anyone which leads to his own downfall.

Ajay D is always serious. Can he be a comedian? Not very convincingly. Having played so many serious roles the role of Omkara must have been a piece of cake! I did not think that his acting as Omkara was any better than what he did in his previous movies...But yes the casting was right and he was good at the job!

Tyagi (Iago) - On the other hand is an integral part of Omkara's gang. He is smart, intelligent, conniving, and can be cunning. He gets filled with contempt for Omkara after having been passed over the position of General in the gang to a younger unsuspecting Kesu. Tyagi slowly plots his revenge against Om and Kesu.

This role is beautifully portrayed by Saif. The transition from the suave chef in Salam Namaste to Langda Tyagi in Omkara is remarkable! I could never imagine Saif speaking the dialect and he did have me convinced because I always thought that Saif could only play "the rich kid" roles.

Kesu (Cassio) - Is a lad who can speak English, university educated but is also a part of the Omkara gang. He becomes the general of the gang but is at the receiving end of Tyagi's revenge. Kesu lands up becoming a pawn in the elaborate game that Tyagi plans! A loverboy at heart he has his eyes set on Billo, a dancer!

Vivek Oberoi as Kesu is not bad. I will not say he was great but he acted to the full capacity of what is required for the role. If he had done anything more it would have become gaudy. Yes he stood "there" most of the time, but that's what his role demanded. He cannot be written off (like he has been in for that. In fact he did justice to Kesu.

Dolly (Desdemona) - Is the beautiful girl who elopes from her house to marry Omkara against the wishes of her parents. Dolly is in the center of the big revenge plotted by Tyagi. An innocent girl who is in total submission to Omkara realizes in the end that her lover did not trust her...

I like Kareena. She is a very beautiful actor and can surely dance to the beats but she is not the correct person for the role. She sticks out as a sore thumb in the landscape of UP/Bihar. For this I will not blame her because her acting was not the one in question here but I will blame the casting manager!

Billo - Bips plays this role of the girl who charms our young and handsome newly appointed General Kesu and also falls for his marriage promise. In the end also forms an integral part of Tyagi's plan!

Bips cannot look anything but stylish. Even though people in villages and small towns use cell phone now, they do not get their make up done like an actress in Bollywood. She seemed too conscious to do the item numbers and in spite of her dusky complexion seemed out of place as Billo! Again bad casting!

Indu (Emilia) - is the wife of Tyagi and the one who tells Omkara the truth. Konkona who acted this part was the only lead lady who did not look out of place in her surroundings, and what more can I say about her acting. She the fit the role like a glove on a hand!

The reasons I did enjoy the movie:
1) The pace of the movie was very slow. It might have been okay with Shakesphere wrote Othello but in 21st century we are used to speed and somehow could not enjoy it.
2) Even if the pace was slow had the screenplay been a little more interesting it would have been better.
3) I did not think they did a good job with the casting of Kareena and Bips!
4) The item numbers did not make a difference to the story.
5) Murder of Dolly was not visualized well. I really did not have to see her body jolt and shudder when she died.
6) What difference does adding a love scene to a movie make other than getting more front benchers in? It spoils the look of the movie if you put in a love-making scene just for the sake of it. I strongly believe that the love making scene of KK and AD was not necessary. Just showing his love for her is enough to convince me of the fact that he loves her deeply.
7) The movie gave me a headache. It is not that I do not like sad/slow/tragic movies because I have seen Pithamagan, Sethu, Thavamai Thavamirundhu, etc and I did not have this feeling about any of them. So there is something wrong in the movie only!

I usually ruminate over a movie I see for a couple of weeks before I finally come to a decision that I like it or not. And hopefully in the next couple of weeks I don't add a few more points to my above list of "Why I don't like this movie." Having written the stuff I did not like I must also write what I liked...So here goes:

1) A great adaptation of the original story. Conscious effort has also been made to keep the names of the lead protagonists similar to the original story.
2) The location where the movie has been shot is really impressive and shows a different part of India if you are not from around there.
3) Dialogues, although I did not understand most of them (Subtitles Zindabad!) was in local dialect and effort from each actor is noteworthy.
4) Costumes too are very impressive.

That's all I can think for now. Nevertheless the movie is worth watching once to form your own opinion. This movie certainly did not fall into my "please do not watch for your own safety" category but does fall into my "avoid watching with your family" category! Feedbacks and healthy discussions are always welcome!


Anu Russell said...

wow! Long review! Did not know I wrote so much!

Rajesh said...

Just read the top 4-5 lines and the last few lines of your review . Planning to watch it this WE so would prob. comment on them afterwards ;)

Kasi Alagappan said...

I too watched Omkaara and I too concur with most of your views; esp that it is slow paced, adulterated by unnecessary love scenes, bips et al. Yes, Saif was at his best after Being Cyrus. He deserves credit and yeah AD too who had this stereotypical-serious-man role. Vishal Bharadwaj's previous movie Maqbool was great, but wasnt a commercial hit because of the obvious resons and poor publicity.
Btw in ur review //The reasons I did enjoy the movie:// Is it a typo? I blv u meant, I didnt.
And btw Gangaajal and Apharan (AD is in lead role in both of them), were shot in UP/ Bihar which have the element of nativity very much like Omkaara. And Gangajal is a masterpiece.

Kuan Gung said...

Jeez how come I don't get to see these?