Quick notes after Omkara

It’s half past twelve at night, and while it is by no means a late hour, I am sleepy. However, before I sleep I must write about Omkara. It’s after really long that I liked a Hindi movie.

Oh and what Hindi it is. Rustic, cow dungish and full of references to things that censors love to bleep. Hindi, like most languages is hardly a monolith. From the Khari Boli, to the Jat-tinged abuse-laced idioms to delicate hymns of love. What I found beautiful about Omkara is that it uses one of the roughest expressions of Hindi to express some very gentle sentiments. The harshest sentiments are verbalized very rarely in Omkara. The screenplay is stingy when it comes to words, which is how a lot of movies should be. Despite the fact that Othello is about trust, love, jealousy and self-inflicted doubt, the movie hardly ever uses these words. Gestures, especially physical gestures do a lot of the talking.

You’re likely to find this movie a little difficult to relate to if you cannot grasp the cuss-words. However, the vastness of the hinterlandscape and the dry shrubs with thick stubborn roots hints at the sheer rawness of basic human emotions. I suppose the locations used in the movie are not in Uttar Pradesh mostly, even so, the unmistakable dustiness becomes so integral to the movie.

omkara_1.jpgOthello is not a fabulous story unless told well. And it’s told so well in Omkara. Othello is a tragedy, and a story of contrasts. The editing could have been slightly tighter, but the movie is just a visual treat, that you don’t mind the extra-languid shots, or the odd fade-outs. The reds, green and abundant natural light add a great sense of earthiness. The casting fits well, except for Vivek Oberoi and Bipasha Basu (who play the roles of Cassio and his mistress Bianca).

One of the other nice things about the movie was the use of sexual aggression and the vocabulary of potency to communicate helplessness, trust, loneliness and alienation. The music was brilliant in most parts. Told the tale and carried the narrative beautifully. Didn’t feel contrived except when they insert item numbers. You’d be surprised how decent Kareena Kapoor’s (Dolly, or Desdemona) acting skills are. But the one who takes the cake has to be Saif Ali Khan playing Langda. (Iago in Othello) The language is near perfect. The delivery just right. Even the colour of his clothes – edging towards dirty green in many scenes fits in with his fits of jealousy and self-pity. Konkona Sen and Nasserudin Shah light up the screen.

I am sure if you were to sit and nitpick you could find flaws in the movie. But for all its inconsistencies, and sore spots, the minutes went by very fast in the movie hall. From glimpses into the North Indian winter to innuendoes in the kitchen – the movie got a lot right.

12 Comments

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12 Responses to Quick notes after Omkara

  1. GG

    Neha,
    Thanks for the review. Must check out. Do you think it will be summer’s blockbuster? Was it house full?
    GG

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  3. Oh so u caught it 1st day! Cool!
    Am definitely not gonna miss it…going this sunday.
    Maqbool was simply stunning…have high hopes on this!

  4. Alok

    You summed up most of what I felt about the movie pretty well. I haven’t seen a movie on the first day for like 15 years now. I had the hunch this one might be worth it. I wasn’t disappointed.

    The editing was a bit loose, I’d say. It could have been far tighter. The audience grew pretty restive at one point of time and one could sense that in the way people seemed to fidget.

    I feel this movie isn’t going to go down well in non metro places. It is more a multiplex movie than single screen stuff. People were expressing disgust that there wasn’t a fight scene between Saif and Ajay!

    Oh, well. I liked it!

  5. Thanks for the review. It’s hard to get decent reviews of Hindi films in the UK. I love the play and have thought a lot of Devgan since Raincoat so I’ll definitely check this out.

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  7. Good review. But their Haryanvi accent wasn’t getting fit in eastern UP locations.

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  10. I haven’t watched this film (Omkara). I read very good reviews from media and very excited to watch it soon. BUT, I always believe what the real viewers’ says- few didn’t like it at all and few said technically well but story was not as good as expected. At times I don’t understand the totally different views of auditions and film reviews writers.; like Fanna become a major hit but whoever I asked only 15% told it’s a good movie.
    And to add I dont see, those people had a problem with too much ‘Gali-galloz’ in film.

  11. indus

    for correction…it is not based in eastern UP but the western side of UP (Meerut…side).
    Vishal Bhardwaj has excelled in all fields direction,dialogues, script and music.

    A must see for people who have earlier enjoyed Maqbool….i will say this one is even better.

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