Sunday 1 June 2008

Omkara [2006]

Maverick Indian director Vishal Bharadwaj followed up his much acclaimed Maqbool (based on Macbeth) with an Indian variation of Othello. He has taken Shakespeare head on, and has done a terrific job in placing the bard’s play in a gangster/political milieu in rural India without loosing any of the subtleties and complex textures of the original piece. Omkara is a pitch black, gloomy, and a heavily noirish tale of power politics, jealousy, lust, and betrayal, peppered with a plethora of the choicest and nastiest of slangs ever heard on Indian silver screen. The haunting scores composed by the director himself set the tone for the grim darkness to follow. The movie is well acted by its ensemble cast. But the stand-out performance is delivered by Saif Ali Khan. His portrayal of the complex, violent, volatile, scheming, cold hearted and foul-mouthed Langda Tyagi is nothing short of tour-de-force which will, in my opinion, go down as one of the greatest on-screen performances in the annals of not just Indian celluloid history but even world cinema. Shakespear has been adapted innumerable times to cinema, but I reckon the bard would have been especially proud of this one.

Director: Vishal Bharadwaj
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama/Ensemble Film/Crime Drama/Psychological Thriller
Language: Hindi
Country: India


Unknown said...

It is obvious from the outset that your choice of movies is eclectic, to say the least. Still, I would love to see you write fuller pieces of criticism, becuase most of them read like well-written synopses.

I have one point to make here. I agree that Saif Ali Khan's was the standout performance in Omkara, but it is not a very subtle adaptation of the Iago character. In fact, it is a bit straightforward. In her novel "The Curtain", Agatha Christie calls Iago the perfect murderer, he who never murders. He just pokes at the psychologically weak moments, instigating people to commit the unpardonable at the heat of the moment. Compare this analysis with what Bhardwaj did, and you will see it is not very subtle. But I agree, it works for the film.

I applaud your bravery, but dont agree with, your awarding perfect 5 to War-Kai's film, while giving 4.5 to Bicycle thief!

Shubhajit said...

I appreciate u'r comments...i did give some thought over that...for me bicycle thief is historically important,but wen i saw bicycle thief i liked the movie but didn't have that exhilarating feeling that only a few films can generate - which chungking express managed to do...if u haven't watched this movie,i would strongly recommend that u do...

Ya i too would have liked to write bigger pieces,but time is a big constraint for me...for the kind of reviews u write (which by the way are really good), apart from the time for composing, multiple viewings of the movie are for now i think i'll stick to short reviews or synopses as u've put it.