Starring: Ajay Devgan, Kareena Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan, Konkona Sen Sharma, Viveik Anand Oberoi, Naseeruddin Shah & Bipasha Basu (Special Appearance)
Director: Vishal Bharadwaj
I went into this film with huge expectations because of all the hype surrounding it. The fact that it was being directed by a critically acclaimed director, along with a stellar cast, as well as being based on one of William Shakespeare’s finest works, the hoopla behind this film was very much justified. Now there are films that bring out the expectations in a person and either lives up to them or exceed them. Then there are films that build up to the hilt before release, and then when it finally does hit the screens, it turns out to be a dud. Now what category does Omkara fall under? Without a shadow of a doubt, it falls under the former category. It deserved all the media attention it was getting. As a matter of fact, it should have gotten even more attention by everybody. Omkara- what a film it was!
The main concern in movies that are adapted from English literature, such as Shakespeare is will the movie live up to the book, or will it just use the name and butcher the whole story? This is what makes Mr. Bharadwaj’s adaptation of Othello such a brilliant film. He absolutely lives up to the play, obviously changing the setting and time frame to relate to the Indian audience. But the basic story of Othello hasn’t changed at all. It is still the same story of a man falling in love with a girl and then questioning her love for him because of the tricks being played by one of his own men. The most important thing that was changed though was the ending. I won’t say what happened, but it was different from what happened in the play. I’m assuming it was changed because the audience cannot bear to see evil emerge unscathed. The rest of the film was basically Othello in Hindi. That’s the best way to put it.
Vishal Bharadwaj’s direction was outstanding. He, as seen in his previous works, is a very potent director and can easily be classified as being one of the best. Although his frame of work is small at the moment, Omkara will definitely take him places, and he will be a household name in no time. This is only the beginning for Mr. Bharadwaj. Bigger and better things are sure to come, without a doubt. He has also written the screenplay for the film, and has also done a great job with that. Now the dialogues in the movie are not for the weak at heart. The film is filled with curse words all throughout and it may make some people feel uncomfortable. But I feel Mr. Bharadwaj had done us a favor by putting in such dialogues because it only adds to the authenticity of the film. He is trying to hit us with a realistic film and the cursing helps, not hurts, him accomplish that. Seeing the movie, it shows the hard work Vishal Bharadwaj has put into making such a film. You can see all the detail he has put in every frame of the movie. He has done a truly remarkable job in both the directing and screenplay departments.
The music of the movie is a plus factor. None of the songs really seem forced and doesn’t slow down the narrative. It is actually a good way to give people a breather from all the action that takes place. Beedi is definitely the best of the lot. The picturization of the song was done really well with Bipasha, Saif, and Viviek. An overall nice dance track. Namak was another nice track which leads up to a tense moment in the film. It was also picturized wonderfully in the film because of Bipasha. These were the only two songs that had a typical song and dance routine and they didn’t disappoint. The other two songs, Omkara and O Saathi Re, were basically background songs, but were great nonetheless. Music was also done by Vishal Bharadwaj, who pretty much had his fingerprints all over this film. He has done a fine job with the soundtrack, which in my opinion is a pretty underrated score.
Now on to the performances! The performances in this film were nothing short of extraordinary. Let me start with the man of the hour: Saif Ali Khan (Langda Tyagi-Iago). The man without a doubt stole the show. I cannot imagine another person playing the role of Langda Tyagi. He proved he can play the villain in Ek Hasina Thi, but in Omkara, he takes things to a whole new level. His look, expressions, dialogue delivery, was all flawless. Without a doubt, the best performance of his career. An award truly does await him next year.
Ajay Devgan (Omkara – Othello) has played roles like this effortlessly in the past, so it was expected that he would do a great job. As usual, Ajay knocks one out of the park again. He was at his best yet again. There is no one who could do justice to the role of mafia leader Omkara the way Ajay did. The man deserves some respect. I never quite understood why his name doesn’t come up when people talk about the best in Bollywood. It’s the Khans and that’s it. It is not fair to a man of Ajay’s caliber. He deserves better. Hopefully this film will open some of those closed eyes.
Viveik Anand Oberoi (Kesu Firangi – Cassio) was solid. His role was not as big as Ajay’s or Saif’s, but he did well with what he had. The man is not a bad actor. As a matter of fact, he is pretty decent. He just needs the right type of roles. These are the types of movies he thrives in. Company gave him a career. Omkara just might revive it. Viveik must continue doing these types of movies. It suits him best.
Naseeruddin Shah (Bhaisaab – the Duke) was great, as always. He had a small role, not requiring him to do much, but Naseer was dependable as always. No matter what roles or how lengthy of a role you give him; you can always expect great things from this mountain of an actor.
Kareena Kapoor (Dolly Mishra – Desdemona) actually acted very well. It caught me by surprise because I never expected Kareena to enact roles like this. She has always been doing glamorous roles that really shackled her from showcasing her talents. I’m glad she has done a film like this that has shown the true actress in her, albeit in a deglamourized role. Nonetheless, she looks pretty, and most importantly performs great. This can be a stepping stone in her career.
Konkona Sen Sharma (Indu – Emilia) may not have had a big role, but she definitely did not disappoint. She was outstanding as Indu. She stood out the most out of all the female characters, even though she did not have as much screen time as Kareena. She really got into the skin of the character and gave you a performance to remember. She is truly a force to be reckoned with in the future. If Page 3 didn’t prove it, this surely will.
Bipasha Basu (Billo – Bianca) only had two songs and a few scenes. She did well with what little she had. Most importantly she was looking hot! She looked amazing in both songs. She was in the film, obviously for the glamour quotient, or else she would have had a full fledged role. When I went to watch it, there was a guy in the audience who actually started whistling when she first came on screen. I couldn’t agree with the guy more.
Omkara is, without a doubt, one of the finest works you will see this year. It has been helped by a great screenplay that stays true to its inspiration, wonderful direction, melodious music, and brilliant performances, led by a towering Saif Ali Khan. Do not let the cursing and violence get to you. It is a realistic film and it shows you reality. Enjoy it for what it is. Shakespeare is definitely smiling in Heaven right now. He has been done proud. Don’t miss Omkara. You will truly regret it if you do. A must see!!