Just back from Oh My God
And it was an exhilarating experience. It is such a tight slap on the face of those who think that ordinary viewers don’t want to see films that deal with ideas. How wrong they are. Films of Raj Kumar Hirani have proved them wrong three times over. And this one does so more emphatically, as it can engage average filmgoers even without a major star as the p protagonist.
Just as Satyameva Jayate proved , people of India are interested in social issues. But you must present them sincerely, intelligently and entertainingly. The problem with so many of the message filmmakers is that they don’t know how to do it. Most of them are not even sincere to start with, but find making of such films an easy way of making small budget films that get some media support and government patronage.
What a relief therefore it was to find a film like Oh My God which was very clear in its understanding of the core issue it was dealing with and knew how to present it in an engaging manner, without deviating from the subject at all. It got a little heavy-handed in the second half but with its clever ending it got itself back in its track.
Overall I was quite surprised at how f..ing sophisticated it was. It managed to attack all the holy cows …from the offering of hair at Tirupati and chaddar at Darghas to turning street-side stones into temples to the dubious practice running schools and hospitals with money devoted by devotees. It manages to lampoon characters like Sri Sri Ravishnakra( played hilariously by Mithun Chakraborty) and gets away with it, for two reasons. One the basic truth in what it is saying and the sincerity of intention, and second, the lightness of touch. The parliament cartoonist should learn a thing or two from the makers of OMG.
But what impressed me most was the sophistication with which it presented the concept of God. Akshay Kumar plays Him very well, using the key chain as the Sudarshan chakra, telling how the calendar images of him are the old Facebook photos that have not been updated. The most germane statements he makes is towards the end when he says he could have finished the Mahbaharata war in minutes, but then it is your war and you have to decide how to fight it. He also tells Kanji that, “ Don’t take away their idols from them because then they will start worshipping your idol. We know from history that is exactly what has happened down the ages. Buddha who did not think it worthwhile to worry about God is worshiped as one. Muhammad who asked his followers to destroy all idols is treated as a godman and the mosque at Kaaba is treated as an idol. The scene echoes the scene from ‘ The Last Temptation Of Jesus Christ” where Jesus tells Peter that he did not perform the miracles that Peter has told people that he did. Peter tells Jesus , “ You try telling that to people and see if they believe you’. In other words they believe because they want to believe. AS the Mithun character says at the end, “ It is an opium they cannot do without.. No amount of expose will deter them.”
There is also much wisdom in Akshay’s relly as to why he deigns to appear before an atheist – because only one who questions deserves an answer, in other words doubting is the first step towards faith. Here he echoes the situation in Gita where Krishna chooses to offer his ultimate wisdom and his viswaroop, not to a devotee, but to the doubting man of action, the doer , Arjuna.
It was very brave and intelligent of the film to show Kanji striking down his idol installed as a godman. This way, It manages to convey its message about fake godmen , in fact the message of how misguided it is to anyone as a godman, without actually denigrating any actual godman. Similarly it gets away with attacking the al too prevalent custom of offering mannat at temples, dargahs and churches, referring to them as ‘ exchange schemes’.
Paresh Rawal is wonderful as Kanji carrying the film on his shoulders. Akshay is Krishna personified. And I liked very much the fusion flute music that accompanies his appearance. Parabhu Deva and Sonakshi’s Gov Govinda is delightful.
And the film once gain proves that the script is the king. And you can engage an audience without stars, with a story based on themes other than romance or revenge. It just has to be well written and well staged.