This one is full paisa vasool!
By MovieTalkies.com, 11 November 2007
This one is a full on entertainer. And Om Shanti Om makes no bones about the fact. The film has been packaged perfectly for its Diwali release as it has enough fun-masti, fireworks, drama, and emotion, in short all the ingredients of a masala Hindi film. In fact, its kahani too is full on filmi. Director Farah Khan and Shah Rukh Khan pay their tributes to 'The Hindi Film' and the major and minor protagonists of this kind of cinema, and have a blast doing so. I mean, where else but in Hindi films do you have spirits, souls being reborn with the same face and mothers, who wait endlessly for their betas to return. Om Shanti Om has all this and more.
The film has been superbly structured in the first half, which is quite brilliant. It opens with a bang when you find yourself in the middle of the shoot of Subhash Ghai's blockbuster Karz, with the then heartthrob Rishi Kapoor belting out the famous 'Om Shanti Om' number, from which this film derives its title as well. Shah Rukh's entry as one of the junior artistes forming the crowd is just superb. The director then pulls away from Ghai and Kapoor and begins the story of Om Prakash Makhija. The protagonist of Om Shanti Om is as much the Hindi film industry as seen through the eyes of a junior artiste as the junior artiste himself. Shah Rukh is Om Prakash Makhija, a struggling junior artiste in the industry of the Seventies. He and his buddy, played by Shreyas Talpade, hang around at the studios, fully obsessed by the stars and everything that is filmi. Om hails from a family of junior artistes, his father was one and so is his mother (Kiron Kher). He dreams of making it really big one day, getting the Filmfare Award for best actor, and of living in a bungalow with marble flooring and a round bed. Such is the stuff which Om dreams of and he receives full support from his friend and mother, who are absolutely sure that he will make it one day. Another one of Om's elusive dreams is Shantipriya (Deepika Padukone), the reigning screen goddess of that time. Om is totally infatuated by her. His time comes when he plays a real time hero and rescues her from a fire on the sets. (One can't miss the reference to Mother India and how Sunil Dutt had rescued Nargis from a fire on the sets and then ultimately went on to marry her.) Well, reality does not play out quite like that for our Om, but yes the Goddess does come up and thank him and calls him her friend.
To his dismay, Om discovers that she is actually married to and pregnant by a top producer of that time (Arjun Rampal). Om pays with his life as he tries to save Shantipriya's life a second time from the villainous producer but fails to do so. Cut to thirty years later and Om Kapoor, the son of a yesteryears superstar and a top star himself. Of course, he does not know that he was Om Prakash in his previous birth. But his old mother and friend are still hanging around the corridors of the studio, with the mother absolutely sure that he is none other than her son. Om Kapoor lives the life which Om Prakash could only dream about. He has the world literally at his feet. But since this is a reincarnation drama, Om Kapoor, the superstar finally remembers the events of his previous life ands is reunited with his Ma and buddy. Shantipriya is yet to reappear but the scheming producer does – as the grey haired Mikey from Hollywood. With so many angles falling into place, Om lays an elaborate plan to trap Mikey and get him to confess to his heinous crime committed thirty years ago. The presence of Shantipriya is crucial to the plan, and sure enough destiny takes matters into her own hands, as she always does in Hindi films, and a Shantipriya -look alike, Sandy, makes her entry. The stage is now set for the elaborate revenge saga, which unfolds quite in Karz-like fashion.
One is never left in any suspense about how the drama will unfold in Om Shanti Om, but Farah still manages to come up with a few twists and surprises. The film is totally filmi and its protagonists seem to love acting filmy as well. The first half of the movie is a superb recreation of the Seventies, beginning with the hairstyles, the sideburns, the flared trousers and the bright coloured shirts. The detailing is amazing. The film has a lot of tongue-in-cheek humour woven into the narrative as there are constant references being made to filmi events, filmstars and directors. Shah Rukh does not spare himself as well. The character of Om is endearing as is the character of his mother, who believes in overacting.
The first half of Om Shanti Om is very endearing, rich in details and unfortunately the second half is not all that fun as the first half. However, the narrative never flags at any point of time. Despite being more than two-and-a-half hours, the film never gives you any chance to glance at your watch. The fact that the film is an obvious take on Karz is of course obvious. But the one area where the original still stands tall is the music. Om Shanti Om does not quite measure up to the original in that department. Despite SRK's six pack in Dard-e-Disco and the blatant show of star power in the title track, the music by Vishal Shekhar does not have the enduring power of Ghai's Karz.
But what this film does have is Shah Rukh Khan. The Khan is at quite his best here, doing what he does best, strutting around, and going quite over the top along with Kiron Kher in the first half. In the second half, he is the hero of Gen Next, with his six-pack, his cool attitude, and body language. In fact, it is Shah Rukh who carries the film through. The rest of the cast does not disappoint. Deepika as the wronged Shantipriya and then the modern, gum chewing Sandy is definitely a class act. The girl looks wonderful, can dance like a dream and is quite a decent actress as well. Of course, if anyone gives SRK competition in Om Shanti Om, then it is definitely Kiron Kher who plays his mother to perfection. She is superb as she does her over-the-top act as the Ma of hindi cinema in the first half. Shreyas Talpade too is quite competent in the first half. But the real surprise is Arjun Rampal as the scheming producer. He has the look down pat in the first half and is really menacing in the second half when he comes back with his silver coloured ponytail. This role seems to have been tailor made for Arjun.
Look not for logic here, Om Shanti Om is a full on entertainer and will definitely gives you your money's worth. Despite the not-so-happening second half, the film is carried forward by SRK and his brand of histrionics and of course, the rocking first half. The attempt to recreate the Seventies, the aspirations of junior artists, the various tributes to the many great Hindi films is all there. What also comes across is a very successful attempt by Farah Khan to create a masala film, quite in the tradition of Seventies' greats like the late Manmohan Desai and his ilk. Seen as part of the same tradition, Om Shanti Om definitely succeeds.