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Saints, sinners and satire

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TO NDR OMG1

OMG – Oh My God!

DIRECTOR: Umesh Shukla

CAST: Akshay Kumar, Paresh Rawal, Mithun Chakraborty, Om Puri, Mahesh Manjrekar, Govind Namdev, Nikhil Ratnaparkhi, Murli Sharma, Poonam Jhawar, Sonakshi Sinha, Prabhu Dheva

CLASSIFICATION: PG

RUNNING TIME: 133 minutes

RATING: ***1/2

OMG – Oh My God! – an adaptation of the hugely admired play Krishan vs Kanhaiya – sees Kanjibhai Mehta (Paresh Rawal), a businessman, filing a lawsuit against God.

Kanji is challenging an insurance company that is refusing to pay him out for his antiques shop, destroyed in an earthquake – an event that the company argues was an “act of God”.

Troubled, the businessman files a claim against God, naming various godmen or dharmagurus as delegates of God and therefore respondents in his lawsuit.

Be warned: Rawal brings up sensitive issues in OMG – Oh My God! in discussing the Almighty and godmen.

He mocks the practices of phoney godmen, and takes pot-shots at superstitions and the baseless rituals we pursue blindly. He also hits out at the money-making industry that religion has become.

Chances are you may find his sarcastic and scornful statements offensive.

In most Hindi movies of yore, as in Yehi Hai Zindagi, God was shown wearing a graceful silk dhoti, a gold circlet and jewel-studded ornaments.

But films such as Vaah! Life Ho Toh Aisi! (2005) and God Tussi Great Ho (2008) portrayed God in a modern avtaar, just as the Hollywood movie Bruce Almighty (2003) did.

Now Akshay Kumar – who portrays Lord Krishna in OMG – Oh My God! – appears elegantly dressed in formal suits and designer outfits.

Kanji is an atheist and runs an antique shop.

For him, God and religion are nothing more than a business proposition. He purchases effigies of God and sells them as antiques at double or triple their original price. His wife, by contrast, is devout.

When a slight tremor shakes the city, only one shop in the entire city is destroyed – Kanji’s.

The insurance company invokes the act of God principle and rejects the claim.

Frustrated, Kanji files a lawsuit against God.

Kanji sends legal notices to the high priests and heads of a number of religious sects.

In court, Kanji argues his own case, not because he doesn’t trust lawyers, but because it is difficult for him to find a lawyer who is willing to put God on trial.

The proceedings begin. An agitated crowd gathers outside the court building and, as Kanji emerges from the court, runs to attack him.

Kanji flees and just as he is beginning to lose ground, a man enters the scene – riding a motorcycle. He sweeps Kanji on to his bike and speeds off.

The man introduces himself. His name is Lord Krishna – the God.

OMG – Oh My God! carries a social message, a significant one, but it does so with wit and humour.

Most important, it is not preachy.

Incidents in the first hour raise a chuckle – in fact you could find yourself smiling non-stop.

The turn of events in the latter part gives the film extra sheen, raising the bar.

The courtroom drama is transfixing and the underlying message that God dwellswithin us is profoundly heart-warming.

Director Umesh Shukla keeps you involved in the on-screen happenings, courtesy of an absorbing screenplay.

Also, the actors cast in the supporting roles add sparkle.

On the negative side, the second half (mostly the final stages) is stretched out.

Also, the execution of a number of sequences is plain ordinary. For example, the scene in which Kumar is introduced could have been more dramatic and spectacular.

Kumar and Rawal make a deadly combo in satires. The duo are by now famous for their flawless timing and their ability to keep the audience in stitches.

Rawal is acknowledged to be a consummate actor. The veteran carries the film and is very convincing as Kanji, who is a difficult character.

Kumar is fabulous in a role that seems tailor-made for him and there are many delightful moments in his scenes with Rawal.

Mithun Chakraborty is incredible in a role that has negative shades.

On the whole, OMG – Oh My God is a thought-provoking adaptation of an enormously successful play.

As a movie tackling a sensitive subject, it will find its share of advocates and adversaries, but its social message comes across loud and clear and that’s one of the prime reasons why OMG – Oh My God! is worth seeing. – bollywoodhungama.com


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