Bewakoof aur chutiye me dhaage bhar ka farak hota hai, dhaage ke ek taraf bewakoof to dooji taraf chutiya.
Pardon my language but Omkara could possibly not have been complete without the use of such and more foul language. Shakespeare would never have approved of the same, what with his medieval English ruling the roost as far as the original went, but in the Indian context, if Vishal Bhardwaj had to show the baser instincts of men, he could not have relied on the Gentlemen's language, could he?
And so the scene changes to Uttar Pradesh, the hinterland where an abuse is just another word, a kind of filler that keeps coming in the middle of a long sentence without the speaker realizing the imperfection. However, even though the foul language has been one of the most talked about points whenever Omkara is discussed (mostly in male gatherings), there is much more to the movie than just that.
Othello, as avid readers (unlike me) would know, is the tragedy of the same named character whose jealousy and mistrust gets the better of him, aided, of course, by the wily and innovative Iago who leaves no stone unturned to get his due, at whatever cost it may take. Vishal Bhardwaj stays mostly true to the story despite the fact that his straying from the story on earlier ocassions (refer Maqbool and Macbeth) did not really remove anything from the creative piece itself. However, he got it bang on here, too for Othello, unlike Macbeth does not need any embellishments to be converted into true, Bollywood ishtyle drama.
All that was required for achieving the above was a bit of creativity from the director in terms of imagining an Indian context for age old and eminently replicable feelings of love, jealousy, spite, and the inevitable tragedy. Not only does Vishal perform beyond expectations on this front, he goes a step ahead and makes sure that all his actors are cued in to the change in context that he has imagined for his version of Othello.
Kareena Kapoor as the innocently seductive Desdemona avatar is probably the weakest link along with Vivek Oberoi's Kesu Firangi. Ajay Devgan's Othello-Omkaara seems routine for the actor who can easily open a school for the brooding, less-talking-more-staring scheme of acting. In fact, even though Vivek and Kareena were not anything spectacular, they melted into their roles. However, Ajay seemed the only case where the casting could have been more experimented with. There is hardly any difference between Gangajal and Omkara as far as Ajay Devgan goes. He performs exceedingly well in both the movies, but where is the variety, the different touch that a movie like Omkara demands?
I know that by now, this would have been drilled into all those who have heard anything about the movie at all, but even at the cost of being repetitive, I would like to emphasize, yet again, the amazing effect that Saif Ali Khan has on this movie. The Chote Nawab of Pataudi has done all that he could have and more. As Langda Tyagi, it has been his movie right from the first scene when he discusses the two sides of the thread to the last when his handiwork is all over the climax. Abusing with conviction, making lewd gestures with elan, smirking away to glory on seeing his wily plans work, Saif has made a pretty complicated character out of just another political activist. In fact, replicating the complexity of character of Iago would have been the toughest act for Vishal, given his choice of context for the movie.
It is easy to imagine a complex character like Iago in the Shakespearean context, a person who does wrong and yet does not see the folly is what Iago has always been whenever Shakespeare's original has been adopted. However, to make sure that you get such a complex character in the no-nonsense heartland of politics and brazen violence that leaves no scope for hidden and implicit feelings or emotions, it was required that the director and the actor are in complete sync. And that is what is seen in the case of Omkara. Vishal Bhardwaj, who has also taken on quite a few other responsibilities in the movie (including screenplay and dialogues) has been absolutely spot on, in terms of a lot of things, and getting the story, the actors, the music and lyrics, even the item songs and the item girl Bipasha, are just few of the many things that he does right in this movie.
Music in the movie is very apt and tailored to meet the situation. Not a great hear, perhaps except the item numbers, the songs gel into the story very well, and that to my mind, is the best a song can do in such a movie. Gulzar has surprised his fans (including me) by coming up with the folksy lyrics in songs like Namak and Beedi, and with the choreography pretty much on line, the songs have been enjoyable, to say the least. Videography throughout the movie has been exceptional and very well aided by the background score. The scene where the new Bahubali (sort of a gang leader) is chosen and annointed is a case in point.
I can go on and on about the finer aspects of Omkara because that is what the director and actors in the movie have stressed upon. However, let it suffice to say that if you are on the right side of the thread, you should not give this movie a miss!