Omkara & Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (2006) & Swing dance … of death!

Why don’t I just go to sleep! I replied to a dream about Adam Sandler by watching Click. Weird. Christopher Walken, fer gudness’ sake!

OK, I’m going to give up the expectation of reading Othello before I give my take on Omkara. Otherwise, I won’t be able to say anything about Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna while it still radiates heat!

62. Omkara (2006) — In the Bollywood scheme of things, I guess this can be considered an arthouse film, though it never strays as far from the mainstream as Deepa Mehta’s work. But then how arthouse or even mainstream is Shakespeare? Who or what makes “Shakespeare”? The plot or the words? Are they inextricable? What is the worth of a Shakespearean adaptation then? Perhaps these are not important considerations here.

Saif Ali Khan did not become unrecognisable. He let the sleeping beastie out but he never felt scary. Unlike the Iago I imagine I know, he was savage but essentially understood, because he was given clearer motivation. This actor excels in roles of duplicitous, uncertain villany. Vivek Oberoi (how do you spell his name now?) in the Michael Cassio role was a drink of cool water; I hope he continues to get worthy parts. Kareena Kapoor was everything I could hope for in a Desdemona, who was never a limp leek anyway. Although I’ll never be a big fan, and her lips really scared me in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, she is quality. Can Naseeruddin Shah be any cooler? Can Bipasha Bapu have any fewer facial expressions?

Now, was Othello about Othello, or Iago? The prime target, or the prime mover? So anyway, Ajay Devgan has safe hands to put a role in, but in Omkara (too many shades of Company?), he lacked a certain majesty — thank goodness it was an ensemble cast. You see, respect for him was imputed by the script, not implied by his performance. Speaking of the script, I think it went a bit too nuts with the role of Emilia, taken on by the enigmatically earthy Konkorna Sen Sharma.

Overall, I think the movie adaptation and the play related to each other really well, with special thanks to cultural transfiguration. It was riveting viewing. (And rather sobering — is Uttar Pradesh that lawless? Apparently!) Still, not as deeply satisfying as I hoped it would be, even if it was a tragedy. Would not say no to watch the Macbeth adaptation by the same director, Vishal Bharadwaj.

63. Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (2006) — It is a testament to Karan Johar’s skill and talent as storyteller, scriptwriter, director and all-round production guy that even though this ‘mature’ work will not rank among his greatest achievements, it has a way of tunnelling itself into your consciousness — well, mine anyway (there I go with the me me me again).

I think the movie suffered a fatal blow when Kajol put family first (as she should) and rejected the role of Maya Talwar, leaving the comparatively sad fizzle between SRK and Rani Mukherjee to make illicitly pure passion believable. Rani M can act her socks off and she’s a real stunner of a hummer, all right, but this movie had to make me believe that Maya and Dev were made for each other. It’s also a great pity that Kajol didn’t share the screen with SRK this time, but it really wouldn’t have meshed with his character detailing — it was good for the movie that the director stuck to his guns.

Karan Johar really went off charted waters with his characters this time, though I don’t think he wanted to shock us so much as stop us in our tracks. To re-examine, if you will, what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ in a relationship. Two bits really jumped out at me.

One, when “Sexy Sam” Samarjit Singh Talwar (Amitabh Bachchan — I have to admit it, the man stole the whole show) tells Maya (spoiler alert!) to leave his son (Bachchan Jr, who outshone the reigning Rani M in exuberance and nuance), since she would only be stopping him from meeting his true love by staying in their loveless marriage.

Two, when Rhea Saran (Preity Zinta, who I think rose to the challenge impeccably and grew as an actress here) tells Maya she too knows how overwhelming the love of Dev Saran (played by SRK — who for the first time was outdone in my eyes; plus, the nicotine-stained lips are a distraction, man) can be. Dev Saran, who is not the hero that SRK is accustomed to putting on, but a very human man indeed. Ah, the indivisible sadness of emotional truth.

Maybe there was a third bit too, in Dev and Rhea’s (delightfully portrayed) son. Never was a form of child abuse so cleverly concealed and revealed.

There were some truly exquisite shots, beautiful ideas and uproarious humour — good ol’ entertainment. I didn’t cry, only felt really darned sad when the Bachchans had an onscreen farewell. But are we the audience (with our babies and our cellphones in the theatre, oh my — though I don’t mind as much as when I’m in a non-Jade cinema, hmm) prepared to travel where Karan Johar wants us to? Ask me again when his Mega Hitz 4 comes out.

KANK is in no way rank but it could’ve smelled better. Couldn’t we all. “Never say goodbye.” Never litter. Never say never.

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7 thoughts on “Omkara & Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (2006) & Swing dance … of death!

  1. Pingback: Them tinkling ivories do the job « The Frothy Tome

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