A Celebration of Indian Cinema
Om Shanti Om is a celebration of Indian cinema. It does not analyse or redefine Bollywood in any way. It does not try to criticise or elevate it. It accepts it for what it is and takes pride in it. Thus we have the stylish stars of yesteryears with their quirky body languages and also the chic, metrosexual stars of today with their six-pack abs and titillating cleavages. The bring to light the cliches and superstitions of Bollywood – reincarnations, revenge, peotic justice and happy endings, mahurats, obnoxious mothers of starlets, importance of appropriate last names, and the struggle of thousands of junior artists who roam the alleyways of Bollywood and dream of becoming stars one day.
But it does not pass any judgement of these things. It says yes, we do have stars and star directors who are at that position only because of their fathers, we have movies which make no sense at all, we have hyper unrealistic style of cinema but we like it and we are proud of it. If it makes us happy, what's the harm?
The movie is deeply metafictional. The movie is about a movie of the same name and the same plot that is being shot within the movie. The whole linking up of the story within the story to the overall plot has been very nicely done. Om Shanti Om is about Bollywood, its quirks and characteristics. But despite that it is a typical Bollywood movie. It has a love story that ends happily with poetic justice. That is the strength of the movie – that it manages to deliver its content while remaining within the generic boudaries of a Bollywood movie. And in one way it also shows us the potential of the Bollywood movie format. There are things that you can do with it.
The Bollywood Philosophy
Bollywood film-makers have always seen themselves as showmen and entertainers. They do not concern themselves with abstract themes or profound thought. As long as people get entertained, they are happy. As Sandy, played by Deepika Padukone in the latter half of the movie says – “I believe it when you jump from fifty floors and still stand on your feet. I also believe it when you single handedly fight a hundred men to save the actress.”
This is precisely the spirit of Bollywood and OSO is not embarrased by it. Why should it be, when it manages to deliver three hours of happiness to its audience using the same formula. It takes up a formula that is almost as old as Bollywood – that of reincarnation – and turns it into a marvelous tale that is almost as timeless as this legendary industry.
I think the kind of innovation and finesse has been shown in the making of this movie by Farah Khan ought to be applauded. Be it the creation of the '70s environment or the decision to use a '70s film-like artificial language in a present day movie – all these decisions would have taken a lot of courage to make. I liked the way she made the movie symmetric. It begins with credits in the '70s style in the beginning and ends with credits again in contemporary style. The computerized make-overs of the '70s songs in the first half was also done very tastefully and flawlessly.
Any discussion of OSO will be incomplete without the mention of Deepika Padukone, the next Bollywood sensation, I'm sure. Not only does she manage to look ravishingly beautiful, she manages to do it in the tight salwar suits and bell bottoms of the '70s on one hand, and short skirts and bikini tops of the present times on the other. Very few bollywood beauties can boast of that. No wonder then that every young man who's seen OSO has, openly or secretly, fallen in love with Deepika.