There are movies which are difficult to interpret and analyze, and then there are those which are way beyond all realms of coherent or decipherable meanings – so much so that, even an attempt at rational untangling is bound to end in futility. Kamal Swaroop’s weird, absurdist, surrealist (or Dadaist, perhaps?), trippy, bizarre, loony and wildly experimental cult film Om Dar-B-Dar belongs, unequivocally, in the latter category. Hence, understandably, watching it was equal parts infuriating, frustrating, maddening and baffling, and it certainly doesn’t make for a regular viewing experience. However, that said, it was also funny, quirky and gleefully crazy; no wonder, it has been routinely classified as a “Great Indian LSD Trip”. Made in 1988 but not released in theatres until 26 years later (interestingly, it opened on big screen on the same day as Ashim Alhuwalia’s intoxicating grindhouse gem Miss Lovely), it reminded a bit of such psychedelic movies as Daisies, Birds Orphans and Fools, The Color of Pomegranates, etc. Set in the small town of Ajmer in Rajasthan, the film’s array of characters includes the titular Om, a misfit and disillusioned teenager; his elder sister Gayatri (Gopi Desai) who seduces the love-struck bicycle riding Jagdish (Lalit Tiwari); their wiry astrologer father (Lakshminarayan Shastri); a titillating actress (Anita Kanwar) hoping for image makeover, etc. Swaroop filled the film with a barrage of non-sequitur sounds and fantastical images, jarring production design, free-flowing mash-up of reality, dreams and fantasies, a hysterical sense of humour, and some phantasmagoric songs too – the deadpan “Bablu Babylon Se” and the nutty “Meri Jaan” were memorable zany – as it covered themes ranging from religion, mythology, cinema, politics, consumerism, war, voyeurism, small-town nostalgia, Freudian dreams and whatnot.
Director: Kamal Swaroop
Genre: Avant-Garde/Experimental Film/Surrealist Comedy