(By Akshat Sharma )In the wake of ongoing riots and protests around the world unleashed by the cynical and criminal elements from the Muslim community on a stupid movie called ‘Innocence of Islam’ this week’s Bollywood release ‘OMG! Oh My God !’ is an eye opener of sorts!
This movie has an atheist Kanji Lal Mehta (played by Paresh Rawal) as central character who spews venom against Hindu deities because he believes Shiva is nothing but a ‘Kala Patthar’ and people should not spend time or money in praying in temples, mosques or the church. He has a special case against Hindu deities coz he finds them funny. Sample a dialogue from Kanjibhai “Ek dozen bade pet wale Ganpati de, aath body builder Hannuman de, dhai sau wala Krishan de, Panch tiger wale de (Sheranwali mata), teen dozen ho gaye, teen Sai Baba to bonus me milega kya”. Pure evil man..Thankfully India is no Iran, Afghanistan or for that matter Malasiya or Indonesia.
Director Umesh Shukla takes plenty of potshots at things majority of Hindus do. His message is clear that why Hindus should look out for God in places of worship when God is everywhere. True we all agree but the issue is not so simple. In a country like India where you cannot call Billu a barbar and where cities go up in flames because some religious book has been desecrated, as it recently happened in Ghaziabad, making a movie like this is tantamount to enticing lunatics to scream blasphemy.
It is shocking that the Censor Board of India cleared this picture for public viewing. On the one hand the Government is running helter skelter to force Google to delete the video link of ‘Innocence of Islam’ and on the other hand it has cleared a movie like this which simply makes fun of things people do in the name of religion.
The point is not whether you agree or disagree with the movie. This is purely the audience call and in any civil society the freedom of speech should be absolute. ‘OMG’ has certainly proved one thing that the people in India do not need any censor board. We can peacefully watch ‘blasphemous acts’ as Indians do not believe in violence and the point is well taken.
‘OMG’ story is lifted from an Australian comedy named ‘The Man Who Sued God’ so it is not an original idea. It also heavily borrows from a Gujarati play ‘Kaanji Virudh Kanji’. Paresh Rawal’s character is well crafted and finely ingrained in the script. He delivers his lines against God’s with gusto and looks pretty solid in his character.
Being an atheist Kanji bhai holds God responsible for damages to his property during an earthquake. When he goes to the insurance company it refuses to compensate by calling it an ‘act of God’. Kaanji takes the matter to court and makes religious leaders who are presented in poor light a party in his case against God.
Akshay Kumar plays modern day Lord Krishna who is heard saying, “You will not recognise me as I have not updated my photo album on Facebook “, and people find it funny. Then we have Mithun Chakroborty who plays an evil Hindu Godman who is surrounded by lampoons in Sadhus’ garb. He is also accompanied by a selfish Maulvi and inconsiderate father of some nondescript church while defending the case against ‘God’. But wait the Maulvi and the father have been spared from the humiliation because the makers seem to be fearful of backlash against them.
Story of the movie ‘OMG’ is in a sense quite unique as it makes you uncomfortable. If the makers had not chickened out they should have attacked those Muslim and Christian religious ceremonies and practises which are also blind to logic and knowledge. Unfortunately and sadly the makers had no guts to venture further.
One should appreciate the makers for their boldness to handle such sensitive issue in an environment where people are getting murdered in the name of ‘blasphemous movies’ for no apparent connection with the movie. But as I said earlier the makers should have taken every major religion in India to task for what they believe is stupidity in the name of religion. Targeting only one religious community doesn’t serve the purpose because Indian society comprises of many religions and sects and all needs to be reformed in a big way. In fact Karl Marx has said ages ago ‘Religion is opium’ but human beings love their share of opium.
In spite of these inherent flaws in the script one must admit that the movie keeps you entertained till the end because it is not some stupid Bollywood comedy. Paresh Rawal’s performance deserves special mention as he delivers one of his finest performance till date. Akshay Kumar plays a different role this time but his portrayal of Lord Krishna is a bit unconvincing. Veteran actor Mithun Chakraborty has once again delivered an amazing performance in a role which has negative shades. He proved to us once again that Bollywood could not extract much from his talent reservoir when he was much younger.
Prominent among others who have done well in the movie are Govind Namdev, Om Puri and Poonam Jhavar. Prabhu Deva and Sonakshi Sinha’s also appear in an item song ‘Go Govinda’. Music has been composed by Himesh Reshamiya but there is not much scope for music in the movie.
It would be wrong to dismiss this movie as only an act of entertainment because the movie wants us to ask some serious questions to ourselves. One question I would like to ask myself why the hell we need a Censor Board in India if we can watch this movie without any significant protest or sense of outrage from the majority of Indians. A sign of a mature society or it is too early to reach this conclusion ?
( Akshat Sharma can be followed on Twitter @akshatsharma101)