Movie Review: OMKARA (2006) – Shakespearean Adaptation Done So Right!

Published by Shah Shahid on

Bollywood is always ripped on for ‘adapting’ Hollywood films. This is true in most cases. However, in other cases the films are direct adaptations, inspirations and overall homages to, not just to other films, but source material from all over in general. This is the case with Bollywood Director Vishal Bhardwaj’s OMKARA, which is a direct adaptation of Shakespeare’s OTHELLO. It says so in the opening credits + movie poster.

Rating: 4 Out Of 5

wonder what Shakespeare would’ve thought… you know, after he’d stop freaking out about seeing people in a box…

Now let’s keep in mind that I haven’t read Othello or seen any of the film adaptations of it, so this review will focus primarily on OMKARA itself as a standalone film, without comparing it to the source material. I just felt others more literate than I should know about the connection.

OMKARA is a wild thrill ride on the frailties of the human condition and the intricacies of the human mind. How a person’s willful acceptance of doubt and suspicion leads to their eventual downfall is what OMKARA is about. And it’s an amazing journey throughout.

Ajay Devgan is the lead here as the titular Omkara, who is the general of a political leader. You should probably know that OMKARA has been adapted from the age of Kings and Royalty of Shakespeare, into the gritty stage of Indian politics and the criminal underworld that supports it.

epic love story…

So OMKARA starts off with the love affair of Devgan’s Omi and Kareena Kapoor’s Dolly, who runs away from home to be with him. Their love affair is great, and this weakness of his is taken advantage of. During a round of elections, Omi gets promoted to being the youth leader of his Party, leaving his spot of General open to a new successor. Naturally being the right hand man of Omi, Saif Ali Khan’s Langda figures he’d be next in line. However, he gets passed up for the more inexperienced and younger Kesu played by Vivek Oberoi, solely due to his connections with the colleges and the youth vote. Langda’s feelings of betrayal thus start a saga of revenge and treachery that ends in blood and tears.

the string of betrayal…

OMKARA is a film done very well in all respects. Vishal Bhardwaj is one of my favorite directors due to his ability to weave complex tales from all walks of life and make them interesting as hell to watch. He does this with perfection, even in a setting of a rural state of India that may not usually appeal to the mainstream commercial audiences.

The brilliance of OMKARA is not just in its story or the execution, but the performances are impressive as hell. From all sides, OMKARA looks like a small independent film with substance over shine, however shine it does with it’s all-star cast.

usually not great… but here… amazing!

Featuring all A-listers for almost every significant role, Bhardwaj tells the tale of OMKARA with these amazing actors in roles that are different from anything they’ve ever done. Ajay Devgan is in his comfort zone playing the soft spoken and somber Omi. Saif Ali Khans does a 180 from his pretty boy roles as a crass, intimidating and deceitful Judas. Vivek Oberoi stays inside his comfort zone as well playing the role of the well-educated Anglo boy in the gang.

Kareena Kapoor softens up her (at the time) irritating demeanor in a sweet role of an innocent and naïve girl, who ends up being a pawn in Langda’s game of revenge. Konkona Sen-Sharma also breaks her pattern of the sweet best friend roles as the outspoken, almost matriarch, of this rag tag group of thugs, who ends up stealing the show, after Saif Ali of course.

awesome role & awesome performance!

OMKARA is awesome for many reasons, if not for how the story comes together through an interspersed weave of lies and deceit. The pacing is never too slow as the story takes off right away from the first few scenes. The foreshadowing through out the movie is appropriate to any Shakespearean drama.

It’s very rarely that we get Indian movies that rival that of Hollywood, but I must say that OMKARA is a great movie with amazing performance carried on the solid backbone of a great script and awesome Directing.

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Shah Shahid

Entertainment Writer | Film & TV Critic | Bollywood Blogger | Host of Split Screen Podcast | Proud Geek Girl Dad


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