Om Shanti Om Mini-Review, Everything is Fake But the Feelings

Well, my view counts are down!  Stupid bad Hindi new releases, ruining my blog.  Anyway, in a painfully obvious attempt to woo readers, I am putting up a tiny quickie review of one of the big hits of the past that I haven’t happened to cover before.  Om Shanti Om!

I watched Om Shanti Om in theaters right before I left town for Thanksgiving.  And essentially that whole holiday was just about me and my sister (who also saw it right before leaving town) talking about how wonderful this movie was.  And then it came out on DVD, I bought the big fancy special edition case, and literally carried it with me everywhere for about a year.  Just in case I had an Om Shanti Om emergency.

It’s just the happiest film!  It’s like Rasa theory-plus.  Rasa theory says that there should be a variety of emotions and moods in any work of art.  Om Shanti Om takes that and ramps it up to a thousand.  Without somehow falling over into being too much.  Or too little, there is no sense of cynicism here, they sincerely believe in this plot.

Have you heard of the emotions study they did with children?  I don’t actually remember what they were studying, but for some reason they wanted a bunch of small children to feel a variety of different emotions in rapid succession.  So they showed them ET, which was the best Hollywood option for that.  But in Indian film, there are SO MANY OPTIONS.  And Om Shanti Om is definitely high on the list.

What makes it so good, and so unique, is the mixture of silly and serious with no holding back on either.  Main Hoon Na already tried this out, we had the over the top fight scenes, the silly Boman Irani jokes, and the completely serious family drama.  But Om Shanti Om went even farther, in both directions.

The opening is completely silly, and joyful, inserting Shahrukh as an enthusiastic extra to the “Om Shanti Om” song sequence in Karz.  And the silliness continues, Kirron Kher as his filmi mother, Shreyas Talpade as his ridiculously supportive friend.  But when it has to get serious, it does.

One of the best sequences is the Mother India one, when Shahrukh rushes in to save movie star Deepika when a stunt goes wrong and she is trapped in the fire.  The moment when he risks his life to save her is filmed completely “straight”.  He is brave and heroic and strides out of the fire with her in his arms.  But right before that is a wall breaking moment of the director mentioning Mother India and trying to get the actor to rush in and save Deepika just like Sunil saved Nargis.  And right after, as soon as Deepika has been taken away, Shahrukh turns back to comedy, jumping around and trying to put out the fire on his arm.

As the film goes on, the moments of tragedy and comedy mix more and more.  And it begins to be clear that this is actually the theme of the film.  The movie world is a place of happiness and silliness and fantasy.  But underneath it can be tragedy.

The “Jag Suna” and “Agar Main Kahoon” songs work as perfect companion pieces to each other in this way. “Agar Main Kahoon” (clearly inspired by “You Were Meant for Me” from Singin’ in the Rain) shows how sometimes “movie magic” intersects with real magic.  And pales in front of it, Shahrukh and Deepika having tea in wine glasses has a lot more magic to it than all the backdrops and special lighting on all the soundstages.  But the lighting and soundstages are there to help them find a place outside that feels as special as they feel right now inside.

And then there’s “Jag Suna”.  Now, Shahrukh is filled with misery.  A second earlier it was funny, he was sneaking onto a set to meet Deepika.  And then he finds out she is married and his heart breaks.  It’s mostly in his performance, his face sells his misery.  But then he walks out into a storm, falling leaves, blowing wind, etc.  The environment is reflecting his feelings, just like almost always in films, until we see that it isn’t actually the environment.  There is a camera on a crane, a big fan blowing leaves, it’s all fake!

What makes it really brilliant is that we go from seeing Shahrukh in the fake sad environment to seeing him a whole series of other fake representations.  A billboard of Deepika, a glass music box, sitting on a soundstage, in front of a fake mansion.  Culminating in a fake Holi celebration.  But the point is, we can see that the world he is in may be fake, but his feelings are real.

That’s the beauty of this film.  Everything is fake but the feelings, which makes the feelings feeling so much more real.

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88 thoughts on “Om Shanti Om Mini-Review, Everything is Fake But the Feelings

  1. Small detail: Farah Khan doesn’t play his mother,she plays another extra who Om fights with for Rishi’s silver jacket and she says something can’t remember what now that is an inside joke.

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  2. This is my number one favorite film. Not just Indian films, all films. It is perfection, for exactly the reasons you mention. And Shah Rukh plays a triple role — Omi, OK, and OK+Omi. The award scene bring some me to tears every time. And the cameos!!!! But the filmi mom is Kirron Kher.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Definitely check it out! Super fun, super rewatchable, and I think you know enough about Hindi film to get some of the in jokes now.

      On Sun, Sep 24, 2017 at 6:55 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. Thanks for this review. Even if the whole review was just the title, it would perfectly sum up the movie. This, plus Devdas, plus KANK is why I love Kirron Kher so much. What are some other, non-SRK film perfomances of hers I should catch?

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    • Punjab 1984 is a straight up dramatic performance that is supposed to be amazing (I haven’t seen it). She does another more dramatic performance in Rang de Basanti, but it is a small part.

      On more of the “fun” side, Khoobsurat is great, Dostana is wonderful, Sing is King is a slightly more important to the plot mother role, Hum Tum too.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The best thing of Om Shanti Om is it’s wonderful songs. I thought the movie was too silly. I think SRK mind blowing performance was in Dil se, followed by Dare and recently Fan.

    I think I watched almost 10 hindi movies in a theatre my entire life. I haven’t watched movie in theatre since past 6 months.

    Let me narrate my ‘experience of life time’ as I often day it. I saw three movies that engulfed me so much that I decided i wouldn’t watch movies that doesn’t meet standards.
    1. Interstellar : There are no words to describe this. I was so involved i felt the chill of being inside a black hole
    2. Gravity : i couldn’t hear my own heart beat because I felt like I was in vacuum.
    3. Life of pi : i was hopeless and marvellous at the same time by sheet brilliance of cinematography , not to forget it’s great plot.

    What I observed : These days movies are a lot more than just the plot. They are technological marvel. They are no longer movies , they are experiences that can’t be forgotten for a life time.

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    • I agree with your 3 SRK performances, Dil Se and Darr and Fan. I might add Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa. It’s a hard role that he makes look simple.

      On Sun, Sep 24, 2017 at 9:50 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. What exactly bollywood lacks is this very same aspect : An engulfing experience. That’s why they are failing continuously. Once in a lifetime we get movies like kahani that do create the magic of being present somewhere.

    A simple question to ask is, how is watching movie on my 4k tv any different than being at a theatre ?
    If we can answer this question, like bahubali did, we will probably get good movies that can pull crowds to theatre, make them ‘feel’ it and perhaps flood this blog with readers like bahubali did.

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  6. Hey!
    I love On Shanti Om and hoelw it interspersed the comic and tragic elements, kind of like ‘life goes on’. I always had some doubts about the plot. Like did Shantipriya love Omi or it was only platonic feelings from her side. Because there’s was an amazing magical chemistry between them. And another was did Om Kapoor love Sandy or simply settled with her as Shantipriya’s soul had departed. I so wish that even Shantipriya had got a reincarnation.

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    • I have those same questions! I don’t find it unbelievable exactly, just sort of incomplete. Would Shantipriya have been happy with Om if she had lived, or did she only see him as a friend? Will Om 2 be able to fully love Sandy, and will Sandy be able to love him as a person not just as the star she worships?

      Perhaps a Sunday post for next week?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes!! Do a Sunday post on the topic. Would be eagerly waiting for it.
        I suppose Shantipriya saw Om as a really sweet friend, and in death her soul had come to respect him, for he gave his life in order to save hers. But still why wasn’t she reincarnated? Perhaps her soul couldn’t leave the mortal realm without seeing Mukesh being punished.
        And who was Sandy? Just a random doppelganger. It felt incomplete, as you said. They should have closed the loops.

        Have you seen this is movie ‘Madhumati’ starring Dilip-Vaijantimala??
        It is said to be the mother of all reincarnation films. And it had such perfect loop closures. The lovers unite in rebirth and the revenge happens in first birth itself.

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        • I haven’t seen Madhumati, but it is on my long term list. And definitely will be a Sunday post at some point!

          On Sun, Sep 24, 2017 at 10:53 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  7. I have such happy memories of this movie. I was in 8th grade and bunked school to watch this first day first show 😀 There was a lot of hype around this movie and Deepika. As Bangaloreans, we were excited to see our home girl Deepika in her big Bollywood debut 🙂 The songs were such a rage back then.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again– it’s the soundtrack that gets you when you watch it the first time and it’s the soundtrack that makes the ridiculous plot magical. Main Agar Kahoon, Jag Soona Lage, Aankon Mein Teri all capture the magic that is required to make a film like this work. The emotions are real in the parody (don’t call it fake! It’s parody!) because the songs work. I think I was crying sitting in the first row in the single screen when Jag Soona soona came on– it was just soooooo impactful!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was definitely crying when Jag Soona Soona started up. It’s one of the ultimate sad songs, that beat and the way the voice soars up and down.

      On Mon, Sep 25, 2017 at 2:05 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      Liked by 1 person

        • I didn’t even think about this before, but it’s one of the few “sad” songs that is a duet, Rahat Fatah Ali Khan and Richa Sharma. There is something extra sad about the mix of the male and female voices.

          Also, by the way, here’s something cool! Farah Khan re-tweeted this post last night. Which also means everything we write here could, in theory, be read by Farah. Just a warning because when Prithviraj re-tweeted me, we ended up gossiping about his parents in the comments of that post and then felt guilty.

          Liked by 2 people

  9. Wonder what happened to Farah Khan though. Main hoon na and OSO were so much fun while Tees Maar Khan and Happy New Year were god awful.Even the songs weren’t great except for maybe Sheila ki jawani and Manwa laage.

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          • But Anupam Kher is so good at doing drag!!!

            Brigette Jones for Farah Khan? I don’t know, I don’t think she has a light enough touch.

            On Mon, Sep 25, 2017 at 10:39 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • He’s ugly also. 😁

            Have you watched Shirin Farhad ki toh nikal padi? She matched Boman Irani at every turn!! She was amazing. Made me wonder why she couldn’t do the sensitive comedy in her own films!

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          • Yes! I love Shirin To Farhad!!!! It’s such a silly little film, one that I kind of can’t believe got made because it is so uncommercial. But so lovable! To be fair, Farah was mostly just playing herself, but she was very fun in front of the camera and had great chemistry with Boman.

            On Mon, Sep 25, 2017 at 10:45 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Exactly. If they do Bridget Jones, Farah can actually be one of the friends.

            Actually i’d want the Girliyapa/AIB gang to her friends because they’re amazing actors.

            Who would I cast in this film though? Who would look good fat? Who would be Colin Firth and who would be Hugh Grant?

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          • She doesn’t have to be fat, that’s one of the misconceptions that bothers me so much. Unrelated to anything you just said, it’s just something that has always bothered me about Brigette films versus books and if I am remaking it, I want to fix that! The point of the book is that she thinks she is fat, stupid, incompetent, etc. etc. But if you read between the lines and look at the interactions she is reporting, it is clear she is gorgeous, witty, and very good at her job. It’s hard to convey in a movie versus a book, but I’d like to see them at least try!

            And, with that in mind, Rani would be the perfect casting. Rani looking like she did in Aiyyaa, where we the audience can see she is gorgeous and perfect, but she could still believably be trying to diet and think she needs to be size zero. Or even better, Indianize it and have it be weight and skin tone that she is obsessing over, while again the audience can see that she is beautiful just as she is.

            Slimy Hugh Grant type, it would have to be someone who can do comedy and charm and be handsome. I have no idea.

            Darcy/Colin Firth, would it be wrong to just cast Prithviraj and make it a total Aiyyaa reunion?

            On Mon, Sep 25, 2017 at 10:51 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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            Liked by 1 person

          • To be honest, the premise of Bridget Jones is that she is actually fat, actually a goofball, actually quite below average at her job and socially awkward with equally awkward parents. That’s why the line “he likes her just as she is” WORKS. if that gets “fixed” you can cast Aishwarya Rai with her superiority complex and just add glasses to her face and expect everyone to believe this girl mist be wrought with self image issues.

            Bridget Jones rang true with women because it showed an actually plump girl worried about being plump. She wasn’t some siren with low self image who just gets a makeover and looks like a runway model. She was an everyday girl who underestimated how much bikini wax strips could hurt. The kinds that fell out drunk from cabs. She was a real girl. Take that out and you’ve lost the basic plot of the film.

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          • Have you read the book? What it managed to do for me was convince us she was a real person with flaws, but also that those flaws were exaggerated in her own mind the way all our flaws are, and the reality was something different. She doesn’t have to be perfect, I wouldn’t want to cast Aish or even glam up the actress who is cast. But someone like Rani, in normal clothing and make-up, would be more what I would picture. Prettier than she thinks she is, but not so pretty that we hate her for not being able to see it.

            And the same with everything, she makes mistakes and falls down and so on, but she exaggerates all those errors in her own head and just mentions in passing the super impressive stuff that she also does.

            Anyway, if I were remaking it, I would want a better balance between the flaws that she focuses on and the reality in which she is pretty impressive. Which ends up saying “real woman are wonderful just as they are” not in spite of what they do, but because they don’t give themselves enough credit for everything they do.

            On Mon, Sep 25, 2017 at 11:01 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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            Liked by 1 person

          • And then the film would feature a mainstream actress who is perfect but just deglammed a bit. Which kills Bridget Jones for everyone. What’s wrong with a girl being overweight, awkward and mediocre at her job anyway? Those aren’t flaws anyway. Just attributes. Why can’t a plump girl play Bridget Jones and be awkward? Why can’t fat awkward Bridget be pretty just as she is?

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        • Not Anupam! He has played Shah Rukh’s dad a million times. That would be such a gross incest-y vibe. Arjun could be Nathan Lane, or Satish Shah if we wanted someone closer to Nathan Lane’s physicality and voice. Or, if we’re mixing and matching Hollywood and Bollywood actors, why not Matthew Broderick and Shah Rukh. But yes, I fear Farah’s heavy-handed humor. I think she tries too hard to be a guy’s gal sometimes.

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          • My friend, a professional drag performer who also loooooooooooves Duplicate, may disagree with you.

            On Mon, Sep 25, 2017 at 2:51 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Well, weren’t we just saying these things are subjective? Also, Shah Rukh’s and Robin William’s energy are not dissimilar, just occurred to me today. Williams just let loose a bit more, both in interviews and in roles, but could be restrained when called upon. Sigh, I miss him. Whoa–The Fisher King–that would be an intense Hindi remake.

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          • Oh wow, it really would! Switch it to something more in the AIB/online video world for the trigger, cast SRK as Robin Williams and someone young and clever as Jeff Bridges, that could be really interesting. Irrfan Khan? Can he do that kind of manic energy that Jeff Bridges pulled up in some scenes?

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          • I was thinking Shahid Kapoor for Jeff Bridges. I’m completely at a loss for Mercedes Ruel b/c I don’t know the actresses in Shahid’s age range well enough.

            Rani for Amanda Plummer? I think she could really pull of that neurotic character. And who for Michael Jeter? Sunil Grover?

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          • Somehow Jacqueline Fernandez is jumping out at me for Mercedes Ruel. I think she could do it, she had a sort of similar warmth to her in Brothers.

            Kalki for Amanda Plummer!

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          • I have a think about her. She gives me the willies. My problem, not hers, lol. LOVING Jacqueline Fernandez for Mercedes Ruel. Similar warmth and physicality, yes, and she would have good chemistry with both Shahid and Shah Rukh.

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          • Oh! Tabu!!!! She would be PERFECT. Very similar to her role in Saathiya, where she was traumatized the whole time and therefore nervous and scared. But this time that would just be her personality.

            Liked by 1 person

    • Already done, unfortunately. With Kamal Haasan, not Shahrukh, and it was a big hit just a few years back, so everyone still remembers it and it isn’t soon enough for a remake.

      Chachi 420 is the Hindi title, the Tamil title is something I can never remember.

      Like

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  12. I finally saw Om Shanti Om and it was so much fun! The 1970s portion was so good. Omi in particular was so cute! Deepika was so good as Shantipriya, I didn’t think she would be that good in her debut! I really liked all of the tributes and references to the film industry. Om Kapoor reminded me of Dev Saran from KANK at some points because he was so angry/passionate.

    I have two questions. How big of a star do you think Om Kapoor was? I feel like he was probably like Sidharth Malhotra is right now in terms of stardom. Has a couple of big hits and is a teenage sensation. But I don’t think he’s one of the biggest stars in the country.

    I was also really curious as to how Shantipriya became an actress. They mentioned that she started acting at the age of 16. And it never seems like she’s very passionate about acting rather than it’s just a job to her. Plus she says that her favorite part is pack up.

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    • For Om Kapoor, I feel like he is supposed to be Shahrukh, but Shahrukh who made it to the top through family connections rather than acting talent and taking risks. the filmfare montage seems to be sending up his own career history, plus it is tracking several years of success, so not a “new kid” but an established star.

      For Shantipriya, i just assumed we were meant to see it as Arjun seducing her when she was a teenager and making her a star, and her never enjoying it but going along with it because he kept forcing her. I think it’s explicitly mentioned that Arjun found her in a village or something and launched her and made her big and she only works with him. Kind of a cool paralel with modern Deepika, who also had no interest in acting or anything like that, only came because she was in love with Om.

      Oh! and now you can join our debates! Are Om and Sandy going to get together at the end of the film? Is that what was implied? Or are they just friends?

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      • That’s what I thought going in but then I don’t feel like you can become a STAR without caring much like Om Kapoor. Plus I had this feeling that this was his first time winning an award since he remembered Omi’s speech. I don’t know, just the way I saw it.

        Good point about Sandy not really having an interest in acting either. Do you think Shantipriya never had an interest in acting or do you think she lost interest in acting after she got married to Mukesh?

        I don’t think Om and Sandy would end up together but I do think that Om would be a friend/mentor to Sandy. Do you think that Sandy would actually get into acting though?

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        • Maybe more like Hrithik? Big, and big for a long time, but kind of protected from his fans and all the problems of stardom by his family.

          For Shantipriya, I actually saw it the other way. She never thought about acting until Arjun forced it on her. But maybe if she had lived, and been able to break away from him, she would have learned to enjoy it. I feel like she never really got a chance to find out whether or not she liked acting, or liked Omi, or anything for herself, because her life was so trapped in Arjun’s.

          I saw Sandy as not being into acting at all, maybe like a student with a whole other career planned. But I could believe that Om mentors her in that too, like talks her through exam anxiety and gives her confidence at her first job interview and stuff.

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          • Yes, Hrithik is probably the best example of what I was thinking of!

            True, her life was so trapped in Arjun’s.

            Yeah, I agree with that too. Even if she didn’t go into acting, I could see Om Kapoor being a lifelong friend and mentor for her.

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