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December 2007 - January 2008


Film Reviews: ‘Om Shanti Om' / Saawariya

by Krishan Ralleigh

‘Om Shanti Om'

‘Om Shanti Om’, from the stable of Eros Inernational is meant to be an entertainer. Directed by Farah Khana and starring Shah Rukh Khan with Deepa Padgune, a new talented actor. She is beautiful and looks gracious. They both perform well.

The angle of the story in early scenes is hilarious. Satire of old Bollywood is sharp and cutting. Where the film fails is in script, the story and ghastly repetition of the ‘Bollywood masala’ in the later part of the story.

Why should Bollywood take its clients as fools is beyond our comprehension. The story starts with a satire on Bollywood cliche films; but the film itself ends repeating the same old formula. Why did the story writer think of the same old formula of reincarnation with exactly thesame human body. This is travesty of the philosophy of spiritual reincarnation believed by millions of Hindus. But the Bollywood writers take it as an easy formula to get away from the realities of life.

For example, the hero (Shah Rukh Khan) had found that the woman he loved was already married to a greedy producer who wanted to ditch his beautiful wife to marry the daughter of a rich magnate some “Mr Mittal”. One fails to understand why couldn’t the victim stand up to her right and leave such a conniving husband?

As the story proceeds, the exasperation among the audience becomes more visible.

The film has entertainment only when the audience try to suspend their sense of belief. Otherwise it is irritating and one feels really cheated. In modern times, they could have divorced amicably. But the film director and the story writer (same person) wanted to create a tragic scene (burning of the heroine) so artificially that even children would laugh at it. There is no aftermath of tragedy. There is no feeling of sympathy for the aggrieved beauty. The film is a serious disappointment for any serious cinema lover.


The meaning of Saawariya

It means beloved - the one who is dusky and beautiful. Lord Krishna is adored by gopis as Saawariya. He is the lover who epitomises love.. Love is the be-all and end-all for him.

The film world expected a lot from Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Unfortunately, he disappointed us.

Saawariya is a simple story. In fact there is not much substance to the story. The audience is being taken on a romantic flight to a town which exists in the imagination of the director or writer. The images of the town, the buidings and the bridges reminded me of Venice. But Venice is much more beautiful and romantic. Moreover, it is Real. The town in Sanjay Bhansali’s ‘Saawariya’ is a figment of imagination. The characters, Gulabji (Rani Mukherji), ad the two newcomers Raj (Ranbir Kapoor) and Sakina (Sonam Kapoor), with excellent pedigree, have performed well within the limited scope of the story.

Raj, a kid with high count of testosterone comes to the imaginary town and meets Gulabji, a prostitute. The young Raj is full of love and affection for everybody he meets. Naturally, he gets love from all and a place to live. The first beautiful and mysterious girl he meets, he readily falls in love with. Her response is not hostile; but it is certainly not love at first sight. This torrid love (at least from his side) is bound to end in disaster and it does.

Why? Mainly because the director and story writer are either under the influence of ‘political correctness’ or are cowards who donot want love between a Hindu boy and a Muslim girl to come to fruition even in the imaginary world created by Leela Bhansali. The story becomes glaringly allegorical when another character Imaan (Salman Khan) is introduced. Naturally, for Sakina, a Muslim girl, ‘Imaan’ (Faith) gets priority. And the hero is left in limbo.

We have had many successful Bollywood romantic films where people of two religions or two castes or two provinces come together despite these hindrances. Bollywood is notorious for creating artificial impediments between lovers. But, in the end, love triumphs. In Saavariya love is one-sided from the very beginning. That is why the love songs are without any true emotions. Dialogues are wooden and cliche-ridden.

There are no less than ten songs in Saawariya and the music director, Monty Sharma says “That in itself was a challenge for me, because I’m a ‘finish-a-job-and-get-out kind of person.” Well! Monty I do not think your songs will last 2007.

The tragedy is that the debut of the two new actors does not seem to be very auspicious.They will have to try again for their niche in Bollywood in a good realistic story. Saawariya is, alas, imagination gone haywire.

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