Straight on, OMG is Paresh Rawal’s movie – and one of his best. Akshay Kumar plays a small and sacred role but OMG is largely powered by Rawal’s performance as Kanjilal Mehta, a cynical Gujarati shopkeeper in Mumbai’s Chor Bazaar, hardcore atheist who merrily dupes the believing into buying Krishna statues before whom Kanji trills, “Kootchie kootchie, natkhat!” The atheist even disrupts a matki phoro ceremony for Krishna where, despite a cracking guest performance by Sonakshi Sinha and Prabhudeva to ‘Go-Go-Go-Govinda‘ – watch the latter’s buttery moves and the former’s rock-chick hair – Kanjilal rains on the party.
An earthquake follows, reducing just one shop to rubble – Kanjilal’s. His insurance company refuses to pay, citing an act of God. Facing ruin, Kanji takes God – as represented by ‘collection officers’, religious leaders Swami Leeladhar (Chakrabarty, super), Siddheshwar (Namdeo, hamming it up to Italian deli-level) and sexy sanyasin Mata Gopi (Poonam Jhawar) – to court demanding compensation. Goons try to kill Kanji – but ‘consultant’ Krishna Vasudev Yadav saves him via a thrilling motorbike ride – then moves into his house. The trial circles deep philosophy, yet tongues stay firmly in cheek as Kanji tells the outraged swamis, “Ye mujhe kya Gita sikhayenge – inka IQ room temperature se bhi low hai.”
Rawal is pure pleasure when he naughtily points out, “Recession mein toh inka dhanda double ho jata hai!“, when debating being boiled in oil down in hell, he asks, “Mein aadmi hoon ya pakora?” or, when he states that such religion – superstition, fear, ignorance – “insaan ko bebas ya aatankwadi banata hai.” It is far better, he remarks, to donate milk to the hungry than pour it over a shrine – and into a drain, to give to the needy rather than enrich religious commerce working on human weakness and woe via ‘exchange offers’ with the divine.
Rawal’s conviction is OMG‘s bedrock – but its beauty comes from his dynamics with Krishna (Kumar, channeling a Twilight-like zone of motorbikes, overcoats and chiseled looks), who saves his life, educates him via sacred texts and gently instructs an annoyed housewife yelling Kanji is a nastik to eat her ice-cream before it melts. Few Bollywood actors do loopy-plus-hot as well as Kumar and he’s silken here, all delicate hints and half-smiles, smoothly playing the flute as Kanji shouts, “O Hari Prasad! O Chaurasia!”
Their chemistry is electric, Rawal wryly noting, “Suit-boot mein aya Kanhaiya“, backed by Chakrabarty too, biting into the role of a long-haired swami speaking in softly mincing tones, using his hands down to one finger in a terrific take-off. Other acting (Puri, a Muslim lawyer helping Kanji, Manjrekar as lawyer Sardesai, Lubna Salim as Kanji’s wide-eyed wife Susheela) is strictly average but covered by an astonishingly good background track pepping up the pace, adding zing but never distracting from a complex story told in a simple way.
On the downside, OMG’s production values are not high-gloss and it sags and looks stagey at times. Importantly though, in a nation obsessed with taweezes and tonsures, fasts and fasaads, the symbolic over the sensible, OMG conveys a serious message this festive season – God is to be found in human beings. And, rather like Hindi films of an earlier age, it does so in a light and unusual way.
Atheist Kanjilal Mehta takes ‘God’ to court after an earthquake destroys his shop. Suddenly, ‘Krishna Vasudev Yadav’ shows up – does divine intervention occur?