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Aug 5, 2008

Om Shanti Om

Today is so not an Om-Shanti-Om day. It is overcast,cloudy and even the rain has forgotten how to unburden itself, typical of the summer this year. In contrast, Om Shanti Om(here after called OSO) is all summery, colorful, cheery, loud, bombastic, groovy, best served by Bollywood and only Bollywood.

OSO has everything Bollywood is famous for - a double dose of a superstar (Shah Rukh Khan in a double role), a beautiful leading lady (debutante Deepika Padukone). The hero is accessorized by a filmy Mom(Kirron Kher), an entertaining side-kick(played by Shreyas Talpade) who has no aspirations for himself, the centuries old hangover of the obedient Lakshman serving the King Ram(ref:Ramayana).The sweet innocence and overwhelming charm of the hero is held in check by a villian who as usual is more sophisticated and westernized(thereby really really evil) than the hero himself. This time that mantle falls on Arjun Rampal.

Like the hero and the heroine, plot is also BOGO(Buy One Get One Free.) Well, that's how the hero and the heroine got double roles in the first place. Multiple choice question: Reincarnation or Twins? The director-story writer Farah Khan chose reincarnation, it gives better mileage across decades. Made in the 'Karz' template(is there a more successful reincarnation movie than Karz ever?), we start in the seventies where Shah Rukh Khan is Om Prakash Makhija, a junior artist who wants to make it big in Bollywood one day. He is in love with his screen idol - Shantipriya(most of Bollywoods #1 heroines except Madhuri Dixit were from South India, thus a South-Indian name, I guess.) Deepika Padukone is fresh, beautiful and an Indian a face you could ask for in a Bollywood heroine. I failed to mention talented, especially for a new-comer. His 'dashingness' Mr.Arjun Rampal is her object of affection in the film. Not going to reveal the story much further, as if there is anyone left in the Indian subcontinent and the NRI continent who has not seen this already.

It's fun to see the Bollywood of the yester-years in color, 'Shantipriya' digitally inserted into old movie clips(Forrest Gump style) cavorting with leading men long gone. There are jabs at all the famous actors, careless hints about famous movies placed at careful spots through out the script, a song that brings in the old and the new faces of Bollywood - lots of color and music in a fast groovy tempo. Vishal-Shekar's music is catchy and blends in(and adds) to the hungama of the movie.

Shahrukh reincarnates as Om Kapoor - a Bollywood heart-throb and Deepika(aka Shantipriya) comes back as Sandy,a wannabe actress. With the reversal of roles and fortunes, King Khan has more power - which means more songs, more masti and a sure defeat of the villian in the cards, who unfortunately ages 30 years, no reincarnation for him, but luckily looks just as handsome. I loved the way movie ended where everyone from the hero to the spot-boy walks down the red-carpet.

Whatever the reviews, Om Shanti Om ruled the domestic and international box-office at the fag end of 2007, continues the same with DVD sales. A winner for Farah, ShahRukh and the team. Leave your brain at the door, enter the world of Bollywood masala, don't wear seat-belts(you might feel an involuntary urge to get up and dance), forget Kurosawa, Ray, Bergman, Scorsese(if you can't, get out, this movie is not for you anyway) and enjoy the ride. Review: Well done, Farah.

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