28 August 2006

The new king of Bollywood

When I first read on Rediff that there was to be a bollywood remake of Othello, called 'Omkara', I told myself it was a recipe for box-office disaster. Then after I read about the casting, I had this image of a producer like the kinds of Naseeruddin Shah in Bombay Boys ... who wanted to make a bad movie so he could launder some black money...

Ok, Ajay Devgan was cast in the title role... after watching Company I didn't doubt he could play Othello. But Saif Ali Khan and Viveik Oberoi?? Saif would have made a decent Cassio... but Viveik Oberoi as Iago?? Note how quickly I jumped to the wrong conclusions. When I later read that Saif Ali Khan was to play the role of Iago, I couldn't believe my eyes. Chocolate boy Saif as the evil Iago?? No way.....

So over the weekend Arun got his hands on the movie, and I was like, oh well, beats watching Superman Returns in Japanese. 30 minutes into the movie I was ready to apologize to Saif Khan for any misgivings I might have had of his histrionic capabilities. Saif Ali Khan HAS to be the new King of Bollywood. His portrayal of Langda Tyaagi is way more than superb and brilliant. His performance is exquisite! Pure art. If he doesn't get ALL possible awards for that role, then there is something seriously wrong with the Indian Cinegoers, Critics and film jurists alike. He's simply the perfect Iago, oozing evil from behind a veil of innocence.... It's time for the rest of the Khan's to move over and make way for the new King of Bollywood, Saif Ali Khan.

Ajay Devgan as Omkara (Othello), Viveik Oberoi's Kesu (Cassio), Kareena Kapoor's portrayal of Dolly (Desdemona), Konkona Sen Sharma's Indu (Emilia) and Naseeruddin Shah's character of Bhaisaab (Doge of Venice) were beautifully played. Bipasha Basu as Billo (Bianca) sucked big time. She was way too plastic. Yes, she was there just for the item numbers, but still, I'm sure there are better actresses who could have played that role.

The desi setting for Othello was brilliantly conceived. The background was the murky politics of the region. Character development was brilliant! It was gripping to the end! I don't think I have really raved about a Bollywood all this much.... ever! For a tragic ending, it was brilliantly shot. From start to finish, Omkara is gripping!

I recommend this as a must watch. However, if you are looking for a long song and dance production, with hazar bizarrely outfitted extras in the background, this is not for you.

Bollywood's most sophisticated and stylish offering to date. All hail Omkara!

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