Directed by: Umesh Shukla
Starring: Paresh Rawal, Akshay Kumar, Mithun Chakraborty
All images courtesy of: http://www.glamsham.com
Films on religion are always tricky, no matter where they are made. How to stay true to one’s creative vision, tell a story that entertains and educates, that appeals to a cynic and a believer, not to mention navigating cultural sensibilities? It takes a brave soul to take on such a tall order but much like religion, a little bit of faith and freedom from fear goes a long way – Oh My God not only ticks many of those boxes but is one of those rare films that is set to become a benchmark of sorts in Hindi cinema. Too much praise in the first paragraph? Well, Oh My God is worth it.
Oh My God treads a very careful line, never insulting or berating religion but instead using reasoned logic to look at why religion evokes so much fervour amongst its believers and explores the consequences of trusting religious institutions without question. Furthermore, the film never diverts from its focus which is the story of Kanji seeking compensation for his destroyed shop and opening a can of worms in the process. Based on a stage play which is in turn inspired by an Australian film, Oh My God not only credits it source material but pays the ultimate compliment by taking on a life of its own, drawing the audience into the debate and giving what is a very serious subject a lightness of touch; only a film that has courage in its convictions can pull off such a feat.
Oh My God totally belongs to Paresh Rawal who uses his extraordinary comic talent and acting skills to the hilt – from the first frame to the last, he makes Kanji Bhai a believable, likeable and worthy protagonist. Furthermore, I loved his energy and the way he slightly underplayed the role so that the story can come to the fore – he gets the balance totally correct so that his blasphemy (which is given correct context) is taken in the right spirit by the viewer. I wasn’t too impressed by Akshay who could have really done something special but coasts along lazily, totally overshadowed by Rawal. I also loved Mithun who gives his character some dimension and makes for a worthy opponent to Kanji Bhai.
Whilst I totally understand some people are not going to understand why Oh My God is so apt or makes such an impact, I think the strength of the story and Rawal’s performance will be enough to guarantee sustained interest for those unsure of giving the film a try – whether it is part of an ongoing debate or as a standalone film, Oh My God works on every level as a family entertainer and successfully realises its potential. After seeing the trailer, I never thought I would write this but here goes – one of my favourite films of 2012 and highly recommended!