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Omkara movie review

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Cast Ajay Devgan, Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Konkona Sen Sharma    more...
Director Vishal Bharadwaj
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The Omkara Movie Review

A brilliant adaptation, but an OK movie
By Naresh Kumar Deoshi
Rating: 0.5/5

In spite of its rural setting, Vishal Bhardwaj's movie 'Omkara' is very Shakespearean to its core.

Seen purely as an adaptation of the English bard's 'Othello', 'Omkara' is a work of cinematic brilliance, translating and transforming with conviction the characters of Shakespeare's book into the Indian milieu. But those who haven't read and don't know about 'Othello' would find 'Omkara' an average film about a man who, poisoned with jealousy, kills his own lover and, later, himself.

The dark-skinned Moor of Venice (Othello) of Shakespeare's tragedy becomes the half Brahmin, dark-complexioned chief (Omkara) of the outlaws in Uttar Pradesh in the film. The envious, conniving and cunning Iago becomes the limping, tobacco-chewing, cursing, Langda Tyagi. The handsome, charming and self-pitying Cassio becomes Kesu Firangi. The beautiful and madly-in-love Desdemona becomes the fair-skinned Dolly Mishra. The jealous, revengeful Roderigo becomes Rajan. The seductive Bianca becomes Billo.

In 'Omkara', Vishal Bhardwaj takes a few liberties and changes a few situations slightly from 'Othello'. But he does not alter the gist of the story.

The movie begins exactly where the Shakespeare's book does - a conversation between Langda Tyagi (Saif Ali Khan) and Rajan, who is on his way to marry Dolly (Kareena Kapoor). Langda tells Rajan that his chief Omkara has abducted Dolly.

In truth, Dolly has eloped with Omkara (Ajay Devgan) after falling in love with him.

The standoff between Omkara and Dolly's furious father is averted with the intervention of Bhai Saab (Naseeruddin Shah), a political figure with links to criminal gangs in UP.

Drama brews up when Omkara chooses Kesu Firangi (Vivek Oberoi) as his successor. Langda Tyagi, who was hoping to become Omi's second-in-command, is filled with envy. He takes Rajan under his wing and plans to create a rift between Omi and Kesu.

First, he gets Kesu drunk and involved in a brawl. Kesu's behaviour angers Omkara. Then, Langda convinces Kesu that the only way he can win back Omi's trust is through Dolly.

Kesu requests Dolly to plead his case to Omkara. Omi and Langda return from a trip to find Kesu and Dolly alone in the house. To avoid facing Omi, Kesu runs away stealthily. This sows the seed of suspicion in Omi's head. Langda takes advantage of this and further poisons Omi's mind with well-crafted lies about a possible affair between Kesu and Dolly.

But Omkara wants an evidence to clear away his doubts that Dolly is being unfaithful to him. That evidence comes in the form of a cummerbund that Omi had given to Dolly. Langda gets his wife Indu (Konkana Sen) to steal that cummerbund and later gives it to Kesu.

When Omi sees the same cummerbund with Kesu's mistress Billo (Bipasha Basu), his fears are confirmed. Blinded by jealously, Omkara destroys his own world.

Although the title suggests that the tragedy belongs primarily to Omkara, Langda Tyagi plays an undeniably important role in the story. For one, he speaks more lines than Omi. It is also Tyagi who manipulates all other characters at his will, trapping them in an intricate net of lies.

So that sort of makes Saif Ali Khan the chief player in the scheme of things. The actor delivers an exceptional performance that truly deserves an award. His very gait and mannerisms ooze deviousness. The way he wraps his arm around the shoulder-strap of a rifle, the way he chews tobacco, the way he walks with a limp, the way he smiles his wily grin through his yellow teeth and the way he speaks the rustic UP dialect- all of it lends immense credibility to his character of the scheming Langda Tyagi. Moreover, Saif shows his command over hurling the choicest of verbal abuses (the most vulgar ones) in the convincing accent.

The role of the reticent, simmering-within Omkara is tailor-made for Ajay Devgan. Kareena Kapoor once again shows her acting prowess in playing a role that has no glamour but lots of substance. She brings out the innocence and the vulnerability of her character. Vivek Oberoi fits Kesu Firangi's part well. Konkana Sen is truly natural. Acting is in her blood.

'Omkara' may put off some people (particularly the family crowd) because of the liberal use of the abusive language. Also the UP lingo of the dialogues may not go well with the moviegoers in the cities.

But, having said this, the film does make for an interesting watch. It is sprinkled with moments of humour, violence, song n' dance and drama. The movie's end is a bit too tragic.

Also, those who don't know Shakespeare's Othello may not catch the significance of certain things and situations in the film - the importance of the cummerbund, the use of mobile phones (instead of voiceovers in Othello), the half-brahmin caste of the protagonist, the revelation by Langda Tyagi to Omi about Kesu's mumblings in dreams, etc.

Vishal Bhardwaj has made a laudable attempt at adapting a literary work that was written around 400 years ago. But seen apart from Shakespeare, the movie is an average flick that tells a story which many can relate to, but may not be impressed by.

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In spite of its rural setting, Vishal Bhardwaj's movie 'Omkara' is very Shakespearean to its core. Seen purely as an adaptation of the English bard's 'Othello', 'Omkara' is a work of cinematic brilliance, translating and transforming with conviction the characters of Shakespeare's book into ...
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