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CHENNAI, India — As a spoof of the 1970s Bollywood, Farah Khan’s “Om Shanti Om” is well -conceived and executed. As a story about reincarnation, it disappoints. The parody is often humorous, and details all that was distasteful about Bombay’s star and studio systems, notorious for its ill-tempered and egotistic actors, cowardly directors, immoral producers, rank indiscipline and sheer waste of time and money. Khan captures the essence of this through exaggerated actions and dramatic dialogue that clearly convey ridicule.
She fails when she wraps this message in a story that is neither novel nor engaging. Tales of rebirth have been beaten to pulp in Indian cinema. So have those where ghosts have been used to elicit confession from the guilty. The film, therefore, has little chance of making it big at the boxoffice. Its main appeal lies in the presence of Shah Rukh Khan, who decided to go shirtless here, a la Salman Khan, and in the curiosity value of newcomer, Deepika Padukone, daughter of India’s badminton champion, Prakash.
Padukone essays Shantipriya, a leading ’70s Bollywood star whom men dream about. One is Om Prakash Makhija (Khan), a struggling junior artist aspiring to become a big-time hero. Shantipriya’s producer-husband, Mukesh Mehra (Arjun Rampal) — who has not made his marriage public fearing that it would spoil the prospects of a blockbuster movie, “Om Shanti Om,” he is planning with his wife as the star — is devastated when he finds she is pregnant. He burns her to death in the same set he had built for his film. Makhija, by then deeply in love with Shantipriya, tries to save her, but both perish.
The second part deals with their rebirth. Thirty years later, Makhija, now called Om Kapoor (also Khan), is a great star, who gradually remembers his previous life. He devises a scheme to trap Mehra, who has settled in America as a Hollywood producer. Kapoor meets Shantipriya, reborn as Sandy (Padukone again), a fledgling actress, and ropes her into his plan.
Padukone impresses in the latter half, where she plays Sandy, but as the seasoned star earlier on looks uncomfortable. Khan is too full of himself to make a mark, but Bela Makhija (Kirron Kher) as his character’s mother, delivers a fine piece of acting.
For the record, Om is a Hindu/Tibetan mantra and the film’s title “Om Shanti Om” roughly translates as Peace Be With You.
OM SHANTI OM
Red Chillies Entertainment
Director/choreographer: Farah Khan
Writers: Farah Khan, Mayur Puri, Mushtaq Sheikh
Producer: Gauri Khan
Executive producer: Sanjiv Chawla
Director of photography: V. Manikandan
Music: Vishal Dadlani, Shekhar Ravjiani
Costume designer: Sanjeev Mulchandani
Editor: Shirish Kunder
Om Prakash Makhija/Om Kapoor: Shah Rukh Khan
Shantipriya/Sandy: Deepika Padukone
Mukesh Mehra: Arjun Rampal
Bela Makhija: Kirron Kher
Running time — 168 minutes
No MPAA rating
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