OMG Oh My God!: Rawal takes the show home

Producers: Akshay Kumar, Ashvini Yardi, Paresh Rawal.
Director: Umesh Shukla.
Cast: Paresh Rawal, Akshay Kumar, Mithun Chakraborty, Govind Namdeo, Murli Sahrma, Mahesh Manjrekar, Poonam Jhawar, On Puri, Lubna Salim.

Mumbai: Is there a God? are you God loving or God fearing? There have been some great character artistes in the Hindi film industry like Jayant, Iftekhar, Rehman, K N Singh, Balraj Sahni to name a few. But there were few films made for these character artistes to carry on their shoulder save for an odd Do Bigha Zameen. OMG Oh My God! is one such film in modern times resting entirely on the shoulders of a character artiste, Paresh Rawal, that too in days when even superstars draw a blank at the box office more often than not!

Making a fictional film involving religious beliefs is a dicey idea considering how vested interests may interpret it to their benefit. (There are reports of some protests in Punjab and cancellation of screening in couple of towns in the state.)

On that count, Oh My God is in league with the acclaimed Pakistani film, Khuda Ke Liye. Here too, the film‘s theme deals with the interpretation and enforcement of religion as it suits the God‘s self-proclaimed agents, the Godmen, Pandits, pastors or maulvees. The film is an adaptation of Gujarati play Kanji Viruddh Kanji, later made in Hindi as Krishna Vs Kanhaiya.

Rawal is a Gujarati trader selling icons and images of gods as antiques. That is to say, cash in on people‘s blind faith. He would build a convincing background story for the items he sold and with that palm off a simple clay idol worth Rs 250 for thousands depending on how vulnerable a customer is. Rawal is a nonbeliever and laughs off the worshipers. It is Gokulashtami and Rawal‘s young son has mounted the Govinda pyramid to break the matki. The occasion is presided over by a saffron clad Pandit, Govind Namdeo. Rawal orders his son to come down from the pyramid, grabs the microphone and announces that a miracle has happened and that Lord Krishna has ordained his devotees to feed him butter and milk. The crowd disperses and the Pandit is left red-faced cursing Rawal.

As if on cue, there is a mild earthquake and the only place affected is Rawal‘s antique shop in Chor Bazaar which has caved in. The insurance company refuses to settle the claim as the shop is not insured against the Act of God which is how an earthquake is defined in their jargon. Now Rawal is a worried man. His shop is destroyed; his house is mortgaged and how can he accept it as an Act of God when according to him God does not exist?

Rawal decides to take on God in a court of law and claim his losses from God. This act of his is called a sacrilege by the religious leaders; a gang of three headed by Mithun Chakraborty very much in the fashion of a Mafia hierarchy. Chakraborty has all the attributes of a gay while the other two being Govind Namdeo, a full time hog gorging on food and, Poonam Jhawar who always has a manicurist in the tow keeping her prim and proper! They take on the challenge from Rawal since their existence and exploitation of the believers depends on God‘s existence.

Rawal is branded as insane, his wife and kids leave him and no lawyer is willing to touch his case. That is when he traces down Om Puri, a Muslim lawyer who lost his both legs when he took up his own community in a legal battle. He guides Rawal to fight his own case in the court. As the sharp and cunning Rawal takes on the might of the god men he turns from an insane to a crusader and a celebrity.

What makes OMG Oh My God! utterly watchable is this court battle against the might of people‘s faith and the self-appointed agents of God. Rawal‘s chief benefactor, however, in his fight against God is God incarnate in the guise of dashing, bike riding and keychain twirling Akshay Kumar who introduces himself as Krishan Vasudev Yadav! The myths are shattered and the god men destroyed to the watchers‘ delight. This also makes the film‘s second half gripping.

OMG Oh My God! is a one man show all the way. It is Rawal who gets in to the skin of the character. His expressions say a lot even when he is not vocal. Akshay Kumar‘s is a cameo role and he is well restrained and almost convincing as the modern day avtar of how God could be. Puri as usual is good. Chakraborty who lets his three fingers do most of the talking is excellent as is Namdeo as the pompous Pandit. Lubna Salim, Tisca Chopra, Yusuf Hussain, Murli Sharma and Mahesh Manjrekar justify their casting. The first half offers a Govinda song with Prabhu Deva and Sonakshi Sinha for a distraction. Dialogue being the backbone of the film, has been very well penned. Production values are patchy. Direction is passable; an eye for details is missing.

OMG Oh My God! has opened to fair opening response but with a whole lot of praise to get better over the weekend and a bonus holiday on Tuesday.

Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal: No maal in this fare

Producer: Percept Picture Company.
Director: Priyadarshan.
Cast: Nana Patekar, Shreyas Talpade, Madhurima, Paresh Rawal, Asrani, Om Puri, Shakti Kapoor, Neeraj Vora, Razzak Khan.

Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal is a group comedy where a one line story is an excuse to make a film and a bunch of character artistes known as comedians are let loose on the screen. But as has been the case with previous such films, the outcome is pathetic.

In a small Catholic town, Om Puri and Paresh Rawal, two bum chums have parted over a lottery ticket. Since then, both families are enemies. While Rawal has three bullies as sons and all the monies he won from the lottery he was supposed to share with Om Puri to back him, Puri has a good for nothing son, Shreyas Talpade, and three daughters or are there two? While Puri works at the local church, Talpade generally idles around dreaming of winning a lottery as short cut to becoming a millionaire. He is such a coward that he is called bakri by the villagers. As it happens in most love stories, Talpade is in love with Rawal‘s daughter, Madhurima, and hence a regular punching bag for her three tough brothers. There are various other characters like Neeraj Vora, a coffin maker, Razzak Khan who runs a restaurant, Asrani, the priest at the church, Shakti Kapoor etc who complete the quorum for a comedy film!

Then enters Nana Patekar who has come to the village for a purpose but he can beat up Rawal‘s three sons singlehandedly and hence Talpade uses him as his protector. At home, he introduces Nana as his long lost older brother who had left home in a huff long ago. The film ambles on aimlessly without generating any interest or comic situations. The jokes and gags are generally PJs.

With there is nothing much to say about performances, the film is one shoddy product from Priyadarshan.

Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal is total loss of invested maal.

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