You have to walk down five floors of mall to exit the PVR in Hyderabad. Imagine how creeped out we were to leave the late show of Omkara last night to find the stairs spattered with blood. Yes, real blood, starting from a broken window in an exit door and dripping all the way down to the parking lot. I do not think it was performance promotion.
Omkara. I enjoyed it. Actually, I loved it, because the flaws didn't distract me as they unspooled alongside the long, meandering playing out of the story. I was very enthusiastic about the film after having seen and loved Maqbool, and it didn't disappoint me in the least. I don't know if Vishal Bhardwaj does the same thing for everyone else, but he certainly ensorcells me into living and breathing the world of his films. I'm amazed at how intelligently he creates tension between realistic 'scapes and the poetry of Shakespearean situations. Can't wait to see which play he'll pick to complete his trilogy (I hope it's Lear, unless he does some crack comic stuff like As You Like It.) Loved the music - although I was a little less thrilled when Saucy Item Number #2 came on - the, heh, conversation pieces, the camerawork: just the life and vibrancy of it all. I've heard quite a few opinions on the subject of implanting the noble heroes of Shakespearean canon into lives of crime and war, and I have to say it doesn't bother me as much as it seems to bother the A C Bradley fans. Shakespeare himself wrote of alien worlds, and I don't know if setting a film in the Mumbai underworld implies a lack of honour any more than setting a play in bloodied, cruel eleventh-century Scotland does. The codes are different, but no less strict. At any rate, evaluating Shakespeare on the basis of morality is only somewhat less criminal than looking for conventional decency in Homer. High on the pointlessness scale.
What particularly shook me about Omkara were the actual truths of Shakespeare that Bhardwaj touched upon, the suspicion of foreignness and femininity that runs poisonously through Othello. Kareena Kapoor spoiled it a bit for me, since she really can't do sensitive no matter how hard she thinks she can, but her mere physical presence - her whiteness, her simpering-girl bits, her cluelessness - were almost too painful to look at. I'm not fond of the reading of Othello as a love story and I'm glad Bhardwaj didn't spend too much time on the romance, lovely as the Saathi Re sequence was. There's too much to lose from believing in the cruel undeserved fate of O&D. I'm glad it came out as a narrative so focused on other "man" stuff, like sex and politics, because that's what Othello is primarily about for me; shame and dishonour. I love Othello's "loved not wisely but too well" speech, but it really doesn't make him a lover, just a super-guilty dupe.
Konkona Sen-Sharma was marvellous. Beautiful and brilliant, the sort of Emilia you wish wasn't playing second fiddle to the leads. Mouthy, amoral, sexual and smart: I could have spent the whole film watching her. I hate that her best lines were a little mouth-meet-words - because which sensible girl lectures your gangland overlord about treating women right when he looks like he could snap your back in a cinch? - but I'm not unhappy that she said them. In a film that trips on language and loquacity, of dialogue and verbal assault and almost-solilioquy and song-narratives, it was great frilling. There is a lot of saying in this film. It's "textually productive" enough to satisfy anybody.
Ditto Saif Ali Khan. I kept watching Ajay Devgan through the film and thinking about all the other times he's played the dark and silent bitchmaker, but I didn't look at Saif once and think, "There's the Salaam Namaste dude." Which is awesome. The effort really paid off; he's so believable and compelling in the Iago role, Shakespeare might have squirmed. He might have squirmed in a lot of places. There's no ketchup in the deaths in this film. The violence isn't gratuitous, but it's a presence and a character as much as the rural UP setting is.
Kaushik is in town! We went to the Charminar and the museum yesterday. He stood humbled and awed by the pseudness of Banjara Hills. Oh, and we watched Chelsea v/s Liverpool, which was a perfect match. Liverpool won but Viktor Krum scored.