Review: OMG-Oh My God is brave and absorbing [3.5 star]
God is a personal choice and open to interpretation. His origins are
undefined and range from mystical to scientific. He is someone, we are
deeply conditioned to have faith in and never question.
Religion is man-made. Its original purpose was to function as a
discipline and technique, guiding the progress of spiritual conscience, before its ideals were completely distorted to set up a dogmatic
rulebook of blind devotion, intimidating myths and ritualistic lifestyle.
OMG-Oh My God creates a hard-hitting premise where its lead
protagonist decides to dispute this rigid system by dragging God and
the business of religion to court.
Based on the successful Gujarati play Kanji Viruddh [ Images ] Kanji, also adapted in Hindi as Krishan vs Kanhaiya, which itself drew
inspiration from The Man Who Sued God, Oh My God, co-written (with
Bhavesh Mandalia) and directed by Umesh Shukla, is a brave and
absorbing blend of satire, fable and fantasy that brings our attention to
the misuse and commercialisation of religion.
It all starts after an agnostic antique seller Kanjilal Mehta (Paresh Rawal [ Images ]) loses his shop in a (super)natural calamity. He can’t claim insurance for the damage since its falls under the ‘Act of God.’
Enraged, he files a case against God and submits the address of all
prominent religious establishments triggering nationwide hue and cry.
Even though Kanjilal does not subscribe to the idea of a supreme being
and addresses idols of worship as ‘toys,’ he’s respectful of others’
beliefs (Main sab Dharmon ka aadar karta hoon aur kissi dharm ko maanta nahi hoon.)
His own wife maintains a small temple space and believes in the
power of prayers and fasting. Most of his scorn is expressed through
witty banter and dismissive conclusions — Yeh Aastha channel mat
Through the development of this lawsuit, Oh My God strives to seek metaphors between Kanji’s absence of faith and an ardent struggle to
expose the ugly face of the ridiculously rich Godmen and their
widespread political connections. All of this, of course, is parodied to
hilarious effect so that the message is both relevant and entertaining.
A bald, banana-chomping Hindu preacher (Govinda [ Images ] Namdeo who after a subdued turn in Heroine is back to his trademark hamming
in costume) sneaks into the washroom to wolf down a hidden vada
pav in the dustbin even as the country assumes he’s on a, ahem,
A creepy art-of-living teacher (Mithun Chakraborty [ Images ] delivers a caricaturish performance that sporadically works if you can focus
beyond his hand movement) leaves his footmarks on a white tile
which is then sold for an obscene amount. A heavily made-up Sadhvi
(Poonam Jhawer,best-remembered for playing Sunil Shetty’s
expressionless wife in Mohra) walks in and out of the frame holding a
mini trishul in hand. This curious looking troika or ‘Bhagwan ki franchise’ is backed up by an
entire army of junior artists dressed in the most adventurous versions
of Sadhus, Babas, Gurus and Pandits in hues of yellow, orange, red and
white straight out of a catalogue constituting exotic India [ Images ]. Lampooning several well-known heavyweights in this sphere, Oh My
God is furiously irreverent when it comes to making a point and telling
its viewer what a fool he or she is. This audacity is its very strength.
Ditto for its powerful dialogue and sharp logic richly articulated
through Kanji’s furious criticism of callous wastage of resources,
discrimination in devotion and ridiculous expenditure under the pretext of grand customs and hollow traditions.
Here are a few nuggets:
‘Jahan dharam hai wahan satya ki jagah nahi hai. Aur jahan satya hai
wahan dharam ki zaroorat hi nahi.’
‘Hanuman [ Images ] itni chillar ka kya karenge?’ ‘Yeh log mujhe (Bhagavad) Gita sikhayenge? In logon ki IQ bhi room
temperature se low hai.’
Although fleeting, there is an attempt to show some genuine
representation (in the ever benevolent presence of Arun Bali) of this
side as well. Shukla also depicts how religious differences are put aside
when there’s a threat to the combined industry revealing the hypocrisy of so-called protectors of morality and faith.
What hurts Oh My God somewhat is the long-winded climax. After a
hammering pace, Shukla slows down to arrive to a preachy (which is
fine), lacklustre (which is not) conclusion. Moreover, Akshay Kumar’s [ Images ] (also the producer alongwith Paresh Rawal) contribution as the story’s divine intervention is a middling one. He shows up just
before the interval and plays God with an unceasing smile and gentle
radiance. Surface value aside, he just doesn’t hold up as someone
who’d know better than Rawal.
Also, that stained front tooth, which the camera so carelessly focuses
on time and again, is not exactly a heavenly sight. Unlike most movies adapted from stage, Oh My God doesn’t wear an
overtly indoors-y look and is more small-screen in its aesthetics. But
production design isn’t the reason to watch this film. Paresh Rawal is.
It’s heartening to see one of our finest in a mainstream project centred entirely around him. It’s a role he’s obviously familiar with considering
he featured in the original play too.
But there’s no sign of character fatigue or repetition. Armed with
superb writing and a keen understanding of Kanji’s convictions and
qualms, the actor grabs his viewer’s attention from start to finish. Like
the remark of the guy in the shop, ‘Bande mein dum hai, yaar.’ The same can be said of the movie.
star rating – 3.5