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SRK's abs win over Ranbir's derriere

By Arthur J Pais in New York
November 09, 2007 15:19 IST
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Producer and star Shah Rukh Khan and film-maker Farah Khan don't have to wait till Monday to uncork the champagne bottles. For Om Shanti Om, their second collaboration following Main Hoon Na, is a gloriously entertaining film and the word that it is one of the funniest films in years would be out even before the first public screening ends.


As for the much publicised scenes in which Shah Rukh flexes his abs during the song Dard-E-Disco, one can safely say that audiences would swoon over the scene; in New York, many of the preview audiences on Thursday (some of whom had seen the previous day Ranbir Kapoor's derriere in Saawariya without much enthusiasm), gave small a roar when Shah Rukh began dancing and removing his shirt.


The film, which is also a love letter to Hindi films, could send many of us reeling into nostalgia as scenes and musical bars from many hit films of the 1960s and 1970s are imaginatively woven into newly composed songs and other situations.


In fact, the film starts with Rishi Kapoor dancing to the song Om Shanti Om in Karz (which is an inspiration to this film) but a minute or two later, we see Om Prakash Makhija (Shah Rukh Khan) who is a junior artist with big dreams replacing Rishi Kapoor on the big screen. Little later in yet another song, we see Shah Rukh replacing a raft of the 1970s idols including Sunil Dutt.


While Farah Khan pays homage to many hit films she grew up, her biggest accomplishment is seen in the briskly paced song sequence in which practically every star in the film industry from Dharmendra, Rekha, Mithun Chakraborty to Saif Khan joining in the celebration.


Among the film's amusing moments is an award ceremony when Om, who is in reincarnated after being murdered by the henchmen of a faithless producer Mukesh (Arjun Rampal), is nominated for a best actor award -- for two films. Watch out for Abhishek Bachchan as a nominee who is convinced that he will be the winner. He is really funny when he swears under the breath when the winner is announced.         


There is so much of entertainment in the film, even as the titles are rolling at the end and you get to see much of the cast and crew, that some viewers may wish the crime drama had a much smaller role.


One laughs one's guts out especially at the deliberately designed over the top acting scenes in the first half with Kirron Kher having a grand time as the has-been junior artist. Her melodrama amuses and worries her son Om who has dreams beyond his junior artist status.


While we are having a lot of fun, we can also feel the film losing the momentum in the middle. Some viewers may also find it difficult to accept newcomer Deepika Padukone's turn as a glamorous movie star Shanti who has won Om's heart. Though she looks charming, Padukone cannot really exude enough glamour and star magic to make one feel that she is really playing a screen goddess.


The film starts in the 1970s when Om, an aspiring actor gets accidentally enmeshed in the life of a movie star called Shanti. He rescues her from a raging fire early on in the film but when her boyfriend (Rampal) arranges for her death by arson Om fails to save her.


Badly beaten up, he dies soon in a hospital. Within a minute or two, in another ward in the hospital a child is born to big shot in the tinsel town. He will be named Om Kapoor.


In the second half of the film, Om Kapoor flaunts his success, comes to the sets late and dictates changes in the script.


But soon the past starts haunting him especially when he shoots scenes involving fire and flames.


Enter Mike, who 30 years ago was known as Mukesh. We know he was the boyfriend of Shanti. Now, he has returned from a long stay in Hollywood and wants to make a film with Om Kapoor in the lead.    


It doesn't take Om a long time to realize what had happened to him and Shanti in the previous birth.


Meanwhile a young woman who is the carbon copy of Shanti (Padukone again) has entered his life. Om now sets out to expose Mike using a detailed ploy.


Though the long drawn climax is a bit of a bore, the film gains ground at the end as the credit titles start rolling.


I would love to see the film again, not only to enjoy its in-jokes and parody but also watch carefully how Farah Khan and her team, especially the art department, has used their creativity. The burnt out set, for example, looks really haunted and surreal. It is one of the many sets that are expertly used through out the film.


With an embarrassment of riches the film offers by way of comedy, lively songs (Vishal-Shekhar) and spirited performances (in the first half), we can forgive the many things that are not inspiring, especially Shah Rukh's emotional scenes in the second half.


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Arthur J Pais in New York