Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone and Arjun Rampal
Director: Farah Khan
I can't think of another film that packs in as many laughs as director Farah Khan's Om Shanti Om. It's set in the seventies and features Shah Rukh Khan as Om Prakash Makhija, a Bollywood junior artiste who's got stars in his eyes and a crush on the country's biggest female star, Shantipriya, played by newcomer Deepika Padukone. Om Shanti Om takes one of Hindi cinema's most popular film themes of that period - the reincarnation drama - and turns it on its head by constructing a story set around that very theme, but in a whole new context.
Have I confused you? Well, let me make it simpler… The junior artiste gets killed trying to save the person he loves most. Thirty years later the country's biggest star is an actor who's got the same face as that junior artiste fellow. Wait, he not only looks exactly like him, he IS the same chap born again, and when he realizes it, he decides to seek revenge on the guy who was instrumental in sending him to the grave in that previous life. Think Karz with a very generous helping of humour.
Unpretentious and completely transparent in its intentions, Om Shanti Om is an entertainer in the true sense of the word, mixing up genre elements like comedy, drama, action and emotion to create a heady broth of Manmohan Desai-style exaggerated entertainment. With tongue firmly in cheek, the writers make light of everyone and everything in sight, packing the first half with so many in-jokes and movie references that it turns out to be every trivia collector's wet dream.
Using the Bombay film industry as a backdrop to the film's plot, everyone from Dev Anand and Rajesh Khanna to Govinda and Subhash Ghai become fair game. Prepare to crack up in that scene where Manoj Kumar must prove his identity to a bunch of security guards after his invitations to a movie premiere get nicked. Or that one in which a young Sooraj Barjatya is seen copying lines for a future film.
A special mention must be made for the film's excellent dialogue which so cleverly incorporates Bollywood's oldest clichés into these characters' everyday parlance. Just watch Kirron Kher and Shah Rukh Khan's mother-son exchanges - they speak like they're straight out of a seventies melodrama themselves!
Few films and few stars have the courage to laugh at themselves, and it's because Om Shanti Om is smart enough to take a handful of self-directed jibes that you're willing to embrace it so whole-heartedly. As superstar Om Kapoor in the film's second half, Shah Rukh gleefully makes jokes about his repetitive acting style, his late-comings on the set, even all the starry trappings he's so accustomed to.
Watch how he's willing to let the joke be on him in those Filmfare Awards nomination clips where his every film resembles the other, his every performance the same. But lest you forget this is the country's biggest star we're talking about, he reminds you that by doing what only he can - sprinkling the film with cameos by just about every big name you can possibly think of. So despite the long-drawn out climax and the wobbly turns the screenplay takes post-intermission, Om Shanti Om doesn't really lose its momentum, throwing in enough surprises to keep you hooked till the end credits roll.
If all you're looking for is a good time at the movies this weekend, then Om Shanti Om just might be your right choice - it's light and frothy and is two-and-a-half-hours well spent. Prepare to be very pleasantly surprised by an inspired turn from Arjun Rampal playing the hotshot producer who's got a secret to hide, also put your hands together for a dazzling debut by Deepika Padukone who's packaged like the next big thing.
If there was ever an award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Cameo then that trophy would go to Akshay Kumar who steals the show in one single scene. To say he's marvelous would be an understatement. And then you have Shah Rukh Khan, who hams away like never before, but wait, it's all in character. Infusing his characters with energy and spunk, he delivers this Diwali's big dhamaka.
Then that's three out of five for director Farah Khan's Om Shanti Om, a film that brings the fun back into the movies. A swell song-and-dance drama that's sensationally senseless, go watch it and prepare to come back beaming.
Rating: 3 / 5 (Good)