This is Vishal Bhardwaj’s second Shakespeare film adaption. His first being the stupendous Maqbool (Macbeth). This time round he breathes life into another Shakespeare tragedy, Othello.
Omi (Ajay Devgan) strong-arms the locals into following his boss, the politician Tiwari Bhaisaab (Naseeruddin Shah). Eventually, Omi enters politics himself and appoints one of his lieutenants, Kesu (Vivek Oberoi), to fill his place. This entices the jealousy of Langda (Saif Ali Khan), and he hatches a revenge plot. Langda plants seeds of doubt in Omi’s mind, concerning the faithfulness of Omi’s new bride Dolly (Kareena Kapoor).
If you think Maqbool‘s Bhardwaj is a flash in the pan, Omkara confirms he is absolutely not. I did actually find Maqbool threatening to unwind a bit in the last act but Omkara is one masterwork from start to end. I was never familiar with Shakespeare’s Othello and I find the tragic soap-opera plot a replica of many HK TVB family dramas – jealousy leading to evil thoughts which in turn lead to back-stabbing shenanigans. What makes the ultimate Machiavellian villain? Is it the one who kills, the one who is the most cruel, the one who straps a bomb on himself and explodes himself in a crowded place? To me, these villains are too obvious… the ultimate villain is the one who doesn’t lift a weapon to kill you, he makes you want to pick up that weapon to kill yourself. He feels no shame because he feels he is justified to do it. His logic will feel right which in turn makes you realise that you may need psychiatric help – you have discovered the dark side resides in you, in everyone. Omkara has such a villain and his words are killer. Envy and jealousy are b*tches!
The direction and acting are flawless. I am reading subtitles which are already amazing. I am sure there are lots of slang and nuances that I didn’t get. The dialogue is cutting-edged and filled with juxtapositions. I love how Bhardwaj uses the swing as the ultimate juxtaposition – as playful innocence, as a show of love and ultimately it became the swing of death.
This is a masterpiece… an amazing adaptation that Shakespeare would definitely be so pleased with.
I love the words and haunting tune of this one