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Monday, July 31, 2006

Omkara meets Othello

Once there lived a band of daredevil outlaws on the outskirts of a society, far from the ordinary mortals and urbane lot.

And there was one Omkara with benign yet piercing eyes, the king among the equals.

And there was one Langda Tyagi, the menacing beast, the undeclared lieutenant, the 2nd in line, the hair to Omkara’s regime which meant terror to the area and surrounding.

And there was one Kesu Firangi, the kid among the men but no less in valor, a ladies’ man with a grin of a lover.

And all hells break loose when Omkara declares Kesu, instead Langda Tyagi, the next to wield power, unleash terror, rule the gang.

And there was one Dolly, who was Omkara’s beloved, who left her father’s house to go along with her love for Omkara.

And then there was Lagda Tyagi’s scheming mind, his instigations, his exploits of the gullible Kesu and Dolly and Omkara.

And the dénouement sees betrayal, bullets, bloodshed bringing the world of Omkara to an end.

This is the plot Shakespeare wrote a play about ages ago and this is the plot Vishal Bhardwaj decided to make a film about today. The penchant for Shakespeare’s work which Vishal carries is reflected in his work. Previously, with his protagonist Maqbool, Vishal brought alive the Macbeth and his pain to screen. And this time, he has brought Othello and Desdemona live in Indian mainland.

Based and woven loosely around Western UP’s brand of politics and consequential social turmoil, Omkara is no less than a modern day epic. And to capture it on celluloid required courage, undying determination and the flavor of the soil on your taste buds. Vishal had all three.

And he had a great cast to act upon an equally great screenplay set in the complementing milieu.

Omkara is Ajay Devgan and Saif Ali Khan limps as Langda Tyagi. Viveik Oberoi is naive Kesu Firangi. Kareena Kapoor makes a perfect Dolly. For the first time, she impresses in a movie. Naseeruddin Shah, as flawless as ever, plays the local clout touting politician and the God Father of Omkara.

But the viewer’s delight is not the havoc langda Tyagi wreck in Omkara’s life or Dolly’s unconditional love or her grave sacrifice. Or Langda Tyagi’s betrayal fuelled by his ambition and jealousy. The viewer’s delight is the craft of Vishal Bhardwaj, the manner in which he adapted the Shakespearean tragedy into an eastern epic and pictured it in the dusty, rustic locales of the rural India, the way he got his actors act like true characters and the way in which Langda Tyagi blurts out vernacular and his mannerism reminding us of the great Gabbar Singh. But there is more to Omkara. It has Konkana Sen Sharma, playing Indu, the wife of Langda Tyagi. If Saif steals the show as Langda Tyagi, Indu is no less. She plays her character with such spontaneity that you tend to forget that she is a Bengali girl who played a Tamil woman in Mr. & Mrs. Iyyer and a page 3 journo in Page 3. She is the one to watch for.

Music for the movie has already made waves and remains people’s favorite for days now. Bipasha has a small role and two item numbers. She does what she is best at, oozing glamour. The cinematography, the screenplay, the dialogues pack together a show which sees the masters stand up and take notice. If Othello is immortal, Langda Tyagi belongs to the same clan.

Vishal has a winner as Omkara and after Maqbool he delivers much to people’s expectations. People walked in the theatre with Maqbool in mind and couldn’t leave Omkara behind when they left the hall.