Last weekend I saw Omkara. I liked the movie. It is an adoption of Shakespeare's Othello. The movie is directed by Vishal Bharadwaj, who ealier had adopted Shakespeare's Macbeth as Maqbool, which was released in 2003. Two earlier pictures directed by Vishal are Chatri Chor which was based on Ruskin Bond's The Blue Umbrella, and Makdee. Vishal had started his career as music composer of Gulzar's Maachis. He had said in an interview, in a lighter vein, that he became film director so that he could compose music for the films. Music composing remains his first love.
Coming to the movie Omkara, the story is based in a small town in Western Uttar Pradesh. It is story of Omkara Shukla (Othello) played by Ajay Devgan, Langda Tyagi (Iago) played by Saif Ali Khan, Kesu Firangi (Cassio) played by Vivek Oberoi, who are part of a political mafia gang, which is headed by Bhaisaab (Duke of Venice) played by Naseeruddin Shah. Kareena Kapoor playes Dolly Mishra (Desdemona), Konkona Sen Sharma plays Indu (Emilia), and Bipasha Basu plays Billo Chamanbahar (Bianca). Omkara alias Omi has been chosen by Bhaisaab to run for the Assembly elections, due to which vacancy of gang-leader arises. Omi selected Kesu over Langda Tyagi, which displeases the latter. Langda sows the seeds of jealousy and infidelity in the mind of Omkara against his would be wife, Dolly. The rest of the story is quite faithful to what happens in the play of which it is an adoption.
The strength of the film are performances by all lead actors. All of them have performed very well, especially Ajay Devgan and Saif Ali Khan. Ajay in the title of Omkara is effortless and conveys much with his eyes and minimal movement. I try not to miss any of his movies. Saif Ali Khan had to shave the hair of his head for the role of Langda. I had read the reports in the media that he was reluctant to do so, but in the end had agreed to the Director's wishes. He has performed quite well in this picture. I won't be surprised if he wins an award or two for this performance.
The director is quite successful in creating the milieu of the film. The langauge of the film, is of dialect spoken in the western U.P., and quite a few foul words are spoken by the characters. In fact, the film begins with one such foul word. I was amused to read the reports in the paper that due to bad language used in the film, many people are keeping away from the film, and the movie is not doing well at many places. Well, one do hear these words spoken in life and the characters of the movie are of such types that one expects them to mouth such words. Maybe some people have difficult in digesting the reality in the movies.
Personally, I liked the movie. Though, I had some problem in following some of the dialogues because of the dialect. But it was worth seeing. I loved the scene when Langda poisens mind of Omi about Dolly once again and Omi arrives home unexpectedely, and Dolly, who has been learning `I just called to say I love you' (which is a wonderful Stevie Wonder song) from Kesu, sings this song while strumming a guiter and a big smile. The scene was worth the price of the ticket. The movie had an unintentional funny scene, when Billo Chamanbahan sings `Bedi Jaalae Lee, Jigar Main Aag Lagi Hai', and when a person ignites a cigarette at the end of song, Billo starts coughing. I found that scene quite hilarious.
I also like the movie as it shows fallibility of a supposedly strong person.
I have never read Shakespear's plays before, now I am tempted to read them.
Reviews of the movies: here and here.
Cross posted to my other blog Raju's World.