Reviewer's Summary - Average
Year: July 28, 2006 in the U.S.
Actors: Ajay Devgan, Saif Ali Khan, Viveik Oberoi, Kareena Kapoor, Naseeruddin Shah, Bipasha Basu, Konkona Sen Sharma
Director: Vishal Bharadwaj
Producer: Kumar Mangat
Music: Vishal Bharadwaj
Screenplay: Vishal Bharadwaj
Dialogs: Vishal Bharadwaj
Iago dazzles. Othello disappoints. And Desdemona is a disaster.
Such - in short - is Omkara, Vishal Bharadwaj's adaptation of the Shakespearean tragedy Othello, the Moor of Venice.
Othello's principal characters Iago, Othello, Desdemona and Cassio take center stage in Omkara as well. Only, the dramatis personae in Omkara come with Indian names.
But fear not. They are easily recognizable, despite their desi appellations.
Othello, the Moor, is the ugly Omi Shukla, lead henchman to a politician Bhaisaab. The embittered and scheming Iago takes the shape of Langda Thyagi. Fair, gentle Desdemona shows up as Dolly. And the unfortunate Cassio appears as Kesu Firangi.
Set in the lawless hinterlands of present day Uttar Pradesh, Omkara tells the tragic love story of Omi (Ajay Devgan) and Dolly (Kareena Kapoor).
Skillfully manipulated by his lieutenant Langda, Omkara follows Omi's descent into the whirlpools of jealousy.
Saif Ali Khan gives a masterful performance as the vengeful muscleman Langda, bitter at being passed over for promotion by Omi.
You see, when Omi's boss Bhaisaab (Naseeruddin Shah) decides to contest for the Parliamentary seat, his State Assembly seat is offered to Omi. For his part, Omi then decides to offer his old job to the outsider Kesu (Viveik Oberoi), ignoring Langda's earlier claims to the post.
Ajay Devgan's lethargic acting makes the Desi adaptation of Othello more the story of Iago or Langda Thyagi. Agreed, Iago was a strong character even in Othello but then he had a strong foil in the Moor.
In Othello, Iago comes close to - but cannot - steal his boss Othello's thunder. Such was the power and character of Othello. In Omkara, wily Langda Thyagi easily steals effete Omi Shukla's thunder.
Devgan's lackluster performance makes us wonder whether he just stumbled upon the Omkara sets during his morning constitutional and quickly changed his attire. It's not the absence of talent to which we take umbrage as much as the failure to harness resident talent to good effect.
In a casting debacle, Kareena Kapoor is featured as Desdemona or Dolly. The limited range of Kareena Kapoor's histrionic capabilities makes her character in Omkara seem less than it actually is and cheats the audience of better possibilities. A gifted - but less beautiful - actress like Rani Mukerji would have added allure to Dolly's character and lifted Omkara to greater heights.
The talented Konkona Sen Sharma is here as Dolly's confidante Indu. If you know your Othello well, you'll quickly recognize Iago's good wife Emilia in her.
Bipasha Basu makes a brief and memorable appearance as a voluptous dancer and Kesu's lover, reminding us of Bianca in Othello.
Viveik Oberoi who plunged us into depression with Pyare Mohan has delivered the goods in Omkara, although his is a smaller role compared to that of Saif Ali Khan or Ajay Devgan.
Omkara's music while not rapturously uplifting does not shortchange you either. Beedi and O Saathi Re are two fine songs.
While not in the superstar league of his peers Shahrukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan or Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan is shaping up to be a class performer, a feat he's demonstrated earlier in Parineeta and Being Cyrus.
Visually, there is not much to complain in Omkara. That cameraman Tassaduq Hussain has a keen eye is amply evidenced by the visual appeal of the movie. Apparently, Omkara is Hussain's maiden foray into Bollywood.
Although not a movie of the first order, Omkara is also not the dull chicken broth that most Bollywood productions resemble. - Copyright SearchIndia.com.