Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Om Shanti Om (2007)

Om Shanti OmThis spectacle of colours and sounds is like a celebration of Bollywood with its crème de la crème cast and crew, and a story set in the Indian film industry spanning 30 years of classic and cult movies. As such, this film cannot fail to stir the hearts of most Indians and lovers of Bollywood, but its appeal can reach much further beyond its domestic arena because of its high production standards and personnel of international acclaim. The two most famous names in "Om Shanti Om" are Shahrukh Khan, one of India's most talented and versatile actors, and the film's scriptwriter, choreographer and director, Farah Khan, who has also earned many local and international awards for her outstanding productions. The two Khans (not related) have already worked together successfully on several big hit movies, and "Om Shanti Om" is yet another step along this fantastic journey into semi-fantasy, escapism and sheer delight for the senses. Although technically a Bollywood standard production of nearly three hours in length with about eight song and dance scenes throughout, "Om Shanti Om" is in fact many films in one as it embraces three decades of Indian films. A basically simple story is very effectively woven through this film industry history, mixing a tragic drama with the unreal world of show business while making fun of its own industry by overplaying the sentimental tones of many classic Indian films. For this reason alone, a general knowledge and feel for Bollywood would help the viewer to appreciate and understand these playful yet respectful tributes to Indian cinema. Yet the story itself already makes for general entertaining viewing, and the high-profile stars, brilliant music and choreography, as well as lavish sets make this film stand out from the rest.

The first half of the film is set in the 1970s, complete with garish fashions and cars, big hair and sideburns, and even nauseating Seventies wallpaper, as we watch a young studio extra trying to get closer to the beautiful, famous actress he is in love with, when suddenly tragedy strikes. But true to Hindu traditional belief, his soul is reincarnated that very instant into a newborn baby so that 30 years later in our present day when he finally remembers his past life, he can mete out justice and revenge on the evil perpetrator who took the life of his beloved three decades ago, but not without a nice little twist at the end. A lot of work went into making the sets, especially those with an authentic 1970s look and feel, and even the songs and music in the first part of the film are in the style of Bollywood's Seventies films. Some Bollywood cult figures are also comically represented, but many are also internationally recognizable or are very similar to Western and Hollywood characters and movies, such as a parody of India's Filmfare Awards: Bollywood's Academy Awards, at which everyone who is anyone in Bollywood makes at least a two second appearance in their most typical and best recognized role or personality. For viewers not up on Bollywood's Who's Who, the second disc in this set might be helpful with nearly three hours of "the Making of..." complete with interviews, bloopers, deleted scenes, audience comments, interactive trivia quiz and much more, all with English subtitles. A nice, colourful booklet also has a brief summary of cast and crew which serves as a nice introduction to get acquainted with Bollywood, and the medium-sized, autographed poster of a bare-chested Shahrukh Khan in a sexy pose is also an added bonus in this set. In fact, in recent times the EROS label s been producing ever bigger and more lavish box sets with more bonus material, and "Om Shanti Om" is the biggest one so far, and therefore worth a little extra money. Watching this top-notch Bollywood production is like taking a fun ride at an amusement park with all its sounds and colours to create the perfect escape from the real world for a few hours, and then makes you want to come back for more.

If you're any fan of Bollywood, OM SHANTI OM is sure to entertain the bejeesus out of you. This movie is joyful and extravagant and at times very funny. It tells of love and revenge, and of reincarnation and redemption. There's also a bit of film industry spoofing going on. This is only Farah Khan's second turn at directing (after Main Hoon Na, yet another must-see cinema), but she already shows signs of becoming a great director. Certainly she knows how to tell a story, although, to be honest, in this instance, the story is overshadowed by the spectacle. Despite some tragic and somber moments in the plot, OM SHANTI OM remains overwhelmingly a display of sheer, rowdy exuberance. It's a party caught on film.

Plot SPOILERS now.

It's Bollywood in the 1970s. Om Prakash Makhija (Shahrukh Khan) is a lowly, aspiring actor (or "junior artist"), whose resume, at this stage, consists of taking on gigs as an extra in films. He is seriously crushing on reigning Bollywood queen Shantipriya (Deepika Padukone), with whose billboard image he often converses. Om's dream comes true one day when he gets to meet Shanti, and even ends up saving her life. But Om then stumbles on a secret which makes any notion of romance with Shanti an impossibility.

Things take a turn to the sinister when Shanti perishes in a fire deliberately caused by a shady movie producer (Arjun Rampal), and Om, in a desperate bid to rescue her, soon after passes away from grievious wounds. But, nearby, in fact in the same hospital, as Om takes his last breath, the baby son of a famous actor is born. And the baby's name happens to be Om. You see where this is going, right?

30 years later, Om Kapoor (again Shahrukh Khan) has followed in his father's footsteps and has himself become a celluloid superstar. But his priveleged status has gone to his head, making him into a spoiled and selfish brat. Om also loses some street cred with his underwhelming brand of cussing, which mostly consists of "Oh, fish!" And, mysteriously, he's had a fear of fire all his life. Events unfold to at last make Om recall his past life even as he prepares to make a film, under the patronage of a shady movie producer (yes, that same one from 30 years ago). Then a bubblegum chewing girl named Sandy enters Om's life. Sandy is a huge fan of his and bears a striking resemblance to Shanti. And, suddenly, Om sees a way in which his beloved Shanti's death can be avenged...


Bow down to this blockbuster picture if you, in any shape or form, are hooked into Bollywood, and, specifically, into the 1970s Indian film industry. OM SHANTI OM is simultaneously a fond sendup and a wry homage of that wild and wooly era. For one thing, if you go way back to those days, then you'll enjoy that bit of fun with 1970s actor Manoj Kumar (although, reportedly, Kumar himself wasn't too enthused with all the ribbing). If you pay attention, you might even learn how Govinda might possibly have gotten his screen name. Myself, since I've started watching Bollywood only about two years ago, I'm sure many inside jokes flew by unrecognized, over my head and unappreciated.

OM SHANTI OM reunites Shahrukh Khan and director Farah Khan (MAIN HOON NA and other films), and these two are undeniably the wellspring of the film's energy, enthusiasm, and vision. The general feel here is one of good-natured boisterousness, yet Shahrukh and Farah keep this ship steady and on course. The feel-good nostalgia is tempered by enough contemporary touches in the second half of the film, so that even the younger generations are kept engaged. Fair warning, though, if you haven't seen any (or a lot) of Bollywood cinema, OM SHANTI OM just may overload your senses and sensibilities.

It's near 3 hours long, and packed with many wonderful moments. As when Om first gets a chance to talk to Shanti but is so flabbergasted he can only make weird faces and funny noises; this, even as his voice-over reflects his elegant but unsaid responses to Shanti's questions. Then there's Om pretending to be a big movie star and then having to put on an act when Shanti comes to visit his set. And those are just two in a busload of memorable scenes. The film does tend to bog down post-intermission, but, still, the second half has its share of highlight bits. Unmissable is the whole Filmfare Awards sequence, which had me rolling on the floor and revealed what good sports Abhishek Bachchan and Akshay Kumar truly are. This is followed by an all-star afterparty as Om's pals in the movie biz show up to help him celebrate (this is the portion of the film where you play "Spot that Bollywood Star!"). Shahrukh pokes fun at himself with the two suspiciously similar "movies" he's nominated for in Filmfare. And, for the ladies, the musical number "Dard-e-Disco" showcases Shahrukh's rockhard abs, which, rumor has it, he'd worked on for 3 months. Me, being a manly man, I shrugged at the newly buff Shahrukh (while bitterly drowning in envy, of course).

Oh, man, the sets, the sets, the opulent sets. I don't know how much it cost to finance this film, but it was well worth it. The set designs are spectacular, especially the 1970s film studios, before and after the devastating fire. The awesomely garish costumes and hair styles simply evoke that era, even as you grin at the kitschiness of it all. Most of the songs rock, from the sweet "Ajab Si" to the hauntingly melodious "Main Agar Kahoon." The wonderful "Dhoom Taana" is evocative of the tunes churned out back in the day (the song's set pieces incorporate pirates, the cabaret, tennis and also, thru special effects, 1970s stars Amrapali, Jay Vijay, and Saccha Jhoota). "Dard-e-Disco" is an item number, with Shahrukh himself, abs and all, as the "item girl" on display (Farah Khan calls him that). The showstopper, of course, is "Deewangi Deewangi" in which 30 Bollywood big names pop in and boogie down with Shahrukh ("All the hot girls put your hands up and say Om Shanti Om...").

It's almost impossible not to have fun when you make a movie like this. The actors must've had a blast. More importantly, they were good. Deepika Padukone is a star in the making. This is the former model's debut film in Bollywood, and she's tall and gorgeous and is engaging as the sad Shanti and, later, as the klutzy Sandy. Also a former model, Arjun Rampal's acting hasn't impressed me in the past. But, here, as the conniving movie director Mukesh Mehra, he lands possibly his best role. He's surprisingly effective as the villain, in spite of that tacky little foo-foo mustache. Kirron Kher is also memorable as the melodramatic mom. As for Shahrukh Khan reliably over-the-top yet magnificent and poignant for all that the guy owns this movie. Even in his goofiest moments, he never loses that charm. There's a reason Shahrukh is one of the (if not THE) most sought after actor in Bollywood.

Eros International pulled out the stops with this dvd packaging, too. There are two dvds in this set, and they come in this oversized, very cool protective box. The first disc has the movie, the song selections, and the Director's Commentary (taped while Farah Khan was lying in bed, 6 or 7 months pregnant). The second disc has 2 and a half hours of extravagant bonus features: the pretty thorough Making of OSO; the Making of the Songs (sorry, I always find this segment boring); the not-very-serious (and occasionally annoying) interview with SRK, Arjun Rampal, Deepika Padukone & Farah Khan; Bloopers; Visual Effects (interesting for the "Dhoom Taana" segment); OSO Events worth watching for the Music Launch, the Fashion Show, the London Premiere, and the Special Screening (where you get other actors' reactions); and an OSO Trivia Game. The best part (for me, anyway) is that most of this stuff is sub-titled in English. There's also a booklet with Cast & Crew bios and a poster of Shahrukh and his abs and his autograph.

Bollywood hasn't been exactly shy about producing movies with a reincarnation theme. But OM SHANTI OM may be the most buoyant and feel-good of them all, despite the dark supernatural element which creeps in. The plot, admittedly, is mediocre and rehashed, so we're pretty much on automatic when it comes to the storyline. The fun, instead, lies in soaking in the nostalgia and the gentle lampooning, the glorious absurdity and even the friendly self-indulgence of the film. Then there's also the tons of cameo appearances. Inspired by a warmth for the past and crafted with skill and heart and imagination, it's very hard not to be swayed over. OM SHANTI OM is a celebration of Bollywood. And, really, why even fight it? Wallow in the film, man, wallow!

Buy Om Shanti Om (2007) Now

I loved this movie (even though most of the in-joke references to earlier Bollywood filmstars went over my head) because there was still more than enough fun to be had in this 2 hour and 42 minute film. Bollywood definitely gives you your moneys worth and more. It manages to give us a story filled with love, laughter, karmic revenge, and some really wonderful, eye-popping song and dance numbers with tunes so catchy that I'll probably be singing them for the next two weeks. This review is full of major spoliers although the film's ending isn't revealed.

Shah Rukh Khan stars a love struck bit player with the unfortunate name of Om Prakash Makhija in the Bollywood of the 1970s who's desperately in love with gorgeous megastar Shanti(Deepika Padukone) and he frequently converses with a giant billboard of her, completely oblivious to the stares of passers-by. One day Om and his brother have the good fortune to be cast as extras in a film in which Shanti is starring and it seems as if fate has brought them together. For quite awhile it does seem as if Shanti will fall for the charming Om, especially after he resecues her from an on-set fire. But alas, Om over hears Shanti telling her director Muhkesh Mehra(with whom she is secretly in love) a terrible secret that will make their love impossible. When faced with leaving his wife and marrying her as he has promised, the director (played by Arjun Rampal)does what most men would do--traps her in one of the extravagant sets in which they are filming and lights it ablaze. This time there's no escape from the fire for Shanti, or for Om who dies attempting to rescue her again.

We go immediately from a sheet being pulled over Om's body in the hospital to the new and improved reincarnated Om 30 years old and still played by SRK. He's the person our deceased Om had always dreamed of being, a famous actor with a great name-Om Kapoor! His life comes complete with round bed, velvet slippers, and servents at his beck and call. When we first meet him he's waking up in the middle of the afternoon to go to work at the film studio--surrounded by screaming fans (who can't help observing "He's so much shorter in real life"), fawning studio executives, and a frantic director who's trying to film a really weird scirpt.

That scene leads into the film's BEST dance number to a song called "Dard-e-Disco" which I've since learned is a parody of a number by Hrithik Roshan, one of Bollywood's number one studs. Roshan and his father also have a cameo as themselves in this flick. I doubt that he knew he would be parodied at the time. I had no idea he was a paroding anyone in particular but by the time SRK got to to the part where he was shirtless and dancing provocatively while wearing a hardhat and a toolbelt with a rope slung over one shoulder and singing "My heart is filled with the pain of disco," I was laughing in spite of the fact that SRK looked really hot. You can always count on Bollywood for a little comedy.

But it's during the "Pain of Disco" number that Om Kapoor first begins to remember his past life as Om Makhija. Later at the Filmfare Awards (which feature hilarious send-ups of other stars' images) Om's memory clears even more, and when he spots the director who had killed both 30 years ago Om remembers everything and begins to plan his revenge.

GUARANTEED END OF SPOILERS. OM SHANTI OM is a throwback to the films of the 1970s for its entire first half, which is to say it shows both the worst of the decade's fashion trends and the best of Bollywood's over indulgent opulence. The sets and costumes are magnificent beyond imagining and damn near knocked my eyes out. There are 7 or 8 musical numbers in this film, with the standouts for me being the "Pain of Disco", and "Deewangi Deewangi" with the lyrics "All the cool boys come and make some noise, sing Om Shanti Om". It's also a good practice for seeing how many Bollywood stars you can name since it's sung at Om's party as an entrance number for all the guests (who are playing themselves) as they arrive. I'm not very good but I was able to identify 6, maybe 7. Still it's an exuberant, catchy tune that will drive you out of your mind.

If you've never seen a Bollywood film this might be a good place to start even if its most subtle parts will be lost on you as they were on me. Be sure to watch the end credits where almost everyone connected with the film gets to dance down the red carpet.

Read Best Reviews of Om Shanti Om (2007) Here

Picture quality is excellent and is a joy watching it on my big screen TV every time. This movie has great songs which I have seen many many times over. Sadly the Blu-ray disk did not have a songs menu which is why I deducted a star. Maybe recent buyers can comment if the newer disks have added a songs menu. A very nice addition to the collection.

Want Om Shanti Om (2007) Discount?

Many people have covered the fact that this movie is awesome. I bought it because I kept watching scenes from it on YouTube over and over. The music is terribly catchy and I can't get enough. If you like Bollywood movies at all, you will like this.

The reason for my low rating is that the description doesn't quite match what I got. I selected the "Two-Disk Collector's Edition with Autographed Poster". Instead, I got a 1-disk copy with no poster. I was very disappointed that I didn't get the collector's edition.

Looking back at the "Product Details", I see that there's only 1 disk listed, which should have clued me into the fact that there was a discrepancy. (Usually those details are not very helpful, so I skip them).

Save 71% Off

No comments:

Post a Comment