Omkara


I really liked Omkara. No, not because of Saif’s acting prowess or the authenticity portrayed by Vishal Bharadwaj – I liked the movie despite all of that. Too many people have pointed out that what Vishal tried to pass off for authentic ‘village’ speak was not even correct on dialect (it sounded more Rajasthani/Jat than western UP). Maybe I missed the great acting everyone was talking about; forgive me, the glare off the Provogue shirts and the Rolex watches blinded me. Plus, I was busy doubling up laughing at Vivek’s constant shrugging (the shrug is a western mannerism; when will our actors learn to play with their facial expressions instead).

What I really liked was that Dolly (Desdemona) and Omi (Othello) never get married until the end and yet their rollicking sex life is quite public & unapologetic. Why did Bharadwaj need to put in this twist; after all Shakespeare didn’t deal with pre-marital coupling in this play. To believe that Bharadwaj put off their wedding until the last frame only to add more weight to the climax – is a little far fetched. What it did is showcase Omi’s utter authority and disregard for both tradition & tongues wagging. In the absence of other reinforcers for his position as a ‘leader amongst men’, the fact that the sex continued despite his awareness of what it would do to Dolly’s reputation just goes on to show that he didn’t really care. So either he was a jerk or believed in his own strength and the strength of his reputation. After all, a half-caste was now Bahubali and more.

What I really liked was that Dolly never pleades for her life, she never says ‘kill me tomorrow morning’. Omkara was a Hindi movie, and for a Hindi movie scriptwriter to throw away a readymade scene that had fantastic tear-jerker & melodramatic potential was Herculean self-control. For that scene to instead have a dialogue as heart-breaking and un-melodramatic as ‘thanks, but don’t spare my life’ – ah, so now we’re all grown-ups?

What got me chuckling was how mobile phones are so central to the story. The climax is not a clumsy 1700’s evesdropping, but a lovely confession over a mobile phone, exploiting the central weakness of that mode of communication – you don’t know who all are listening (or not) at the other end!

Omkara might not have been the great path-breaking movie it was supposed to be. But the script was surely a clever re-writing.

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