What would you say about a movie that ends with a temple donation box being smashed and its idol being beheaded? It takes guts to make a film without antagonizing the religious fundamentalists and making them sniff for yet another meaty reason for protecting their religion. So, here’s to you the saar (purport) of the movie, Oh My God strewn with quotes from the Bhagwad Gita:
“There is neither this world nor the world beyond nor happiness for the one who doubts.”
OMG is based on the religion of an atheist. In fact, its very first sequence turns religion on its head. The lead character, Kanjibhai is an avowed atheist, makes a living from the fear of God. He justifies his act as almost everyone is busy making hay while the sun of faith shines. Things go awry after an earthquake destroys his antique shop and leads him to sue the insurance company.
“Man is made by his belief. As he believes, so he is.”
When the insurance company shrugs it off as an act of God, Kanjibhai sues God i.e. the religious authorities. His logic: When electricity goes off, you don’t call up Anil Ambani but report to his officers. Enter Akshay Kumar, essaying the modern avatar of Lord Krishna, riding a stylish bike to rescue Kanjibhai from his opponents. Hence begins the divine comedy and eternal battle between God v/s Man, Faith v/s Logic, Religion v/s Scripture, Kanji v/s Krishna.
To begin with, OMG isn’t an anti-god film or a ‘Ten Commandments’, ‘The Passion of Christ’, ‘Ar-Risalah’ (The Message) or ‘Mahabharat’ for the atheists and agnostics. The film comes across as an updated version of ‘Yahi hai zindagi’ starring Sanjeev Kumar as an atheist and Vikram Gokhale as Lord Krishna and even ‘Lok-Parlok’ where Jeetendra sparks off a morcha in hell for the asuras (demons) being exploited by Yamraj (the god of death), by making them work overtime. The film protests against the religious practices, and not the religions.
“It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection.”
Relax all you world cinema and theatre aficionados, OMG is of course inspired by the Australian film, ‘The man who sued God’ starring Billy Connolly, directed by Mark Joffe – on which the Gujarati play, ‘Kanji v/s Kanji’ and Hindi play, ‘Kishan v/s Kanhaiya’ are based on. Nevertheless, it would still remind you of ‘Yahi hai zindagi’ and ‘Lok Parlok’ –films which reflected the woes of a common man.
OMG resonates the teaching of Bhagwad Gita, by charting its own path imperfectly than living an imitation of someone else’s film. The film is replete with its own share of flaws, for instance, the way earthquake scene was executed, the characterization of Mithun Chakraborty as godman (not to forget his ill-fitting wig), the bike sequence seemed to be there just because Akshay Kumar is one of the producers of OMG, the ICU which is more of an ‘I don’t see you’ – where not a single nurse bothers to keep an eye on the comatose Kanjibhai conversing with Lord Krishna busy playing ‘god-god’ in the ICU.
“There is nothing lost or wasted in this life.”
Eventually, you tend to overlook these flaws and end up having a great time with your family. After all, not many films are made these days which can be relished by a family without getting embarrassed about gaalis, smooches, and sexual innuendos.
“The mind is restless and difficult to restrain, but it is subdued by practice.”
While Mark Joffe’s ‘The man who sued God’ delved into the terrains of restraint, OMG does just the opposite – going overboard with scenes which hint that the producers have a tie-up with an ENT specialist. Thankfully, Paresh Rawal approaches his role of Kanjibhai as a restrained and exorcises the ghosts of Babubhai in him with a performance of tall order.
Akshay Kumar plays Lord Krishna with an enviable ease, smiling silently in the Vishnu pose while the cinematographer Sethu Sriram captures him with soft focus lenses and Paresh Rawal shoulders the courtroom drama scenes. The item song, Go Govinda (much abhorred by the critics) is needless to say, well-composed by Himesh Reshammiya and excellently choreographed by Prabhu Deva. Prabhu Deva and Sonakshi Sinha make their presence felt amid the sermonic proceedings.
“No one who does good work will ever come to a bad end, either here or in the world to come”
The line, ‘Logo se unka dharm kabhi mat cheenna, warna log tumhe apna dharm bana lenge’ is the biggest takeaway of the film, leading to a befitting end. However, OMG also leaves you wish for a subtler end ala the beautifully shot scene in the Australian film, where a dove enters the courtroom and ushers in a change of heart in the lead character, rather than bothering God to descend on a bike.
Maybe it wouldn’t have worked in Indian context, where we are used to being loud about everything, be it weddings (emotional attyachar), opinions (debate shows on TV), movies (hundred crore club members), or religion (pudhiya varshi laukar aa). So a subtler end would have elicited a sigh from the audience, ‘Thakela picture hai yaar’.
Sages speak of the immutable Tree of Life, with its taproot above and its branches below.”
Director Umesh Shukla lends a humoristic tone to OMG, which works for the film without provoking the hardcore Hindu, Muslim or Christian fundamentalist. His collaboration with Bhavesh Mandalia (the writer of Gujarati and Hindi plays based on ‘The man who sued God) leave no idols unturned to drive home their point. The scene where Lord Krishna prods Kanjibhai to read scriptures to know the truth is indeed commendable and relevant. We revere our religious scriptures but seldom open them to read it.
OMG is a movie that reflects our times and can only be enjoyed when you keep that ‘movie critic’ in you aside and enjoy it with your family. Now before you start yawning and write off this review to be as preachy as the movie, I’d better sum it up with this quote from Bhagwad Gita:
“Those who see knowledge and action as one – they are the wise who see truly.”