Sunday, July 30, 2006
A few posts ago, I had likened Vishal Bhardwaj to Gulzar. I was a little off the mark. Vishal is a much better story teller than the great man. In his second Shakespearean venture, he exhibits remarkable ease while handling the camera, and every frame is worth its weight in gold. I have very few bad things to say about the film. From Makdee to Maqbool to Omkara...this filmography alone can put him in a league all by himself.
I assume here that everyone knows what Othello is all about. A tragedy filled with lies, deceipt, love and bloodshed. Omkara stays very true to the original, in fact Vishal doesn't include any fictional characters to adapt the story to fit the Indian landscape. And what a landscape it is! Set in political Uttar Pradesh, a menacing, hostile jungle of violence, political intrigue and feuds, with its dusty villages and golden fields, the surroundings keep you captivated from start to finish. The backdrop itself is as strong as any of the characters. Ajay Devgan as Omkara is powerful, Kareena as Dolly is very good as well, Vivek Oberoi as Kesu and Bipasha Basu as Billo don't get much scope. But Konkona Sen takes your breath away with her vibrance in a smallish role. She is a fantastic actress and its frightening to imagine what she could accomplish after a few more years in the business. But all said and done, this is Saif Ali Khan's film. Iago (Landga Tyagi here) is a difficult character to play, but Saif makes the scheming, hurting, jealous lieutenant come alive in a way that you hate and like him at the same time. Award winning stuff.
The music of the film is good as well. 'O Saathi re' and 'Omkara' are the stand out tracks for me. The others are situational and are not bad by any standards. One item song too many though. Gulzar's lyrics are fantastic.
The only possible drawbacks of the film could be the language of the film, which is very UP ite and hence might be difficult to grasp for people not versed with the accent and dialect in that part of the country and the editing, which uses the fade out technique too often, which slows down proceedings considerably. A few expletives could have been avoided, but its not really something I'd whine about.
Dark, brooding, menacing, delightful.
Omkara could well be a classic in the making.