Monday, August 14, 2006

and what think you, coz, of love?

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.


  1. Even the character's name is also having the similarity!

    Omkara 'Omi' Shukla -- Othello
    Ishwar 'Langda' Tyagi -- Iago
    Keshav 'Kesu' Firangi -- Cassio
    Dolly Mishra -- Desdemona
    Indu -- Emilia
    Billo Chamanbahar -- Bianca
    Bhaisaab -- Duke of Venice

  2. Haven't seen it, might go for it alone

  3. Still haven't seen it. :(

    However. Everything you said about Othello (and Shakespeare) I agree with, which is mostly why I'm looking forward to this so much.

  4. It was quite brilliant wasn't it??
    Konkana Sen was awesome as was Saif...and as much as i dislike Kareena i felt her whiteness and her cluelessness made for a decently convincing Desdemona. i honestly can't think of any current Hindi film actress playing the part.

    Sadly, i went and killed the after effect of the movie by watching KANK the next day...(umm i had free tickets). Oh well, it was bad enough to be terribly funny.

  5. I went to watch Omkara, and got tickets for KANK instead. Do not celebrate the Mumbai theatregoer's sophistication, tickets to KANK were available only because it was playing on 6 screens!

    How was KANK? Now, that is another story altogether.

  6. still haven't managed to see it

  7. I am more interested in the 'blood on the stairs' bit. Tell!!!
    I watched KANK yesterday. It was a loverly film. My friend threw popcorn at the screen when Rani was weeping copious tears. Elderly gentleman tsked tsked and said 'good going.'
    There is hope yet.

  8. Is it just me or did Konkona seem rather uncomfortable with her persona? She got her timing spot on, which is even more to her credit as an actress, but she looked more conscious on screen than I've ever seen her look. Maybe it was the language. Nobody seems to agree with me on this one yet.

  9. @ aqua: I know, what'll they think of next!

    @ imhunt: GO WATCH IT, GAH.

    @ aisha: see above.

    @ szerelem: I'm definitely not missing KANK. Sometime next week for sure. I need the laugh. :D

    @ viv: I was amazed when I received your text telling me that you were watching KANK for lack of Omkara tickets. Of course, I forgot you live among the most concentrated population of K-Jo fans in India.

    @ tanushree: Alas, there's no resolution to it. I wonder what it must have been. Creeped the hell out of us.

    @ SV: Really? I've only seen her in Mr and Mrs Iyer and I hated that film, so I have no judgement of these things. I thought she was pretty okay - she did have some awkward dialogues, though. And she had more to do than Bebo.

  10. Haven't seen it. But wat you narrated was pretty good. My first visit here.
    My favo' is SAKhan.....

  11. pidia! is that you? hi! i agree he was - surprisingly good. i want to watch the film again, just to wrap my head aroudn the fact that it was him and not pod person saif acting, like, well.