Films | Oh My God – Movie Review

Oh My God – Movie Review

Posted by FATEMA H.KAGALWALA on September 28, 2012 | No Comments

PRODUCER – Akshay Kumar, Ashvini Yardi, Paresh Rawal
DIRECTOR – Umesh Shukla
WRITER – Umesh Shukla
CAST – Paresh Rawal, Akshay Kumar, Mithun Chakraborty, Govind Namdeo, Murli Sharma
MUSIC – Himesh Reshammiya, Anjan-Meet Bros, Sachin-Jigar

As our world presses on (or shall we say hurtles?) towards technological advancement we assume we move towards a more progressive life. But, as we continue to equate progress with material and scientific achievements the true meaning of it withers away under the blanket of a narrow-minded and hegemonic mindscape. And we find ourselves left with values and attitudes that we should have left behind long time back.

Religion, money and fear are all said to work as opium – addictive and driving behavior that leads to the very self-destruction we turn to them to fight against. In a drama-spun maneuver, Oh My God focuses its sharp eye on these in an aim to bring back sense and a deeper sensibility in a world turning increasingly nonsensical.

Kanjilal (Paresh Rawal) is a middle-class Gujarati; an atheist who makes money by (over) selling religious idols to foolish believers. The people who come to him are caricatures but they strike us as real because we know someone or the other like them. One day, his shop is destroyed in a mild earthquake and his insurance claims are rejected because destruction of property due to an act of God isn’t considered an insurance liability. An enraged Kanjilal sets out to sue the insurance company based on his belief that there is no God and hence the company owes him money. If not, then God shall repay through his so-called servants, the religious police (or mafia as we may call it) as his representatives. This rather off-centered argument finds merit with the High Court and if we are able to sail past through that then what follows becomes an absorbing and entertaining drama also meant to awaken a large part of our audience. God, in the incarnation of Shri Krishna (Akshay Kumar) too decides to come down and there is much more than preachy lessons on the way.
A large part of the film is centered around the court-room drama but it is not a legally twisted battle we watch. It is more of a one-sided campaign, with Kanjilal, having failed at hiring a lawyer, fighting his own case and the prosecution played by Mahesh Manjrekar looking on helplessly. These outbursts, which was what they really are, between Kanjilal and the lords of religion, the dharamgurus, maulvis and Fathers pass muster simply because of a tight combative logic and arguments that strongly resonate our crooked reality. It is a well-argued film with its principles of religion, God and belief in the right place and the film takes this very seriously. Akshay Kumar plays Shri Krishna in suits, chic kurtas riding an Avenger and calls himself the ‘owner of a consultancy firm’ and his job is to ‘simply show people what to do’. This understated cheeky frame of reference coupled with Akshay Kumar’s restrained performance and the subtlety of the growing relationship between him and Kanjilal makes for an interesting watch.

But the hero of the film is Paresh Rawal. Not because he is the central character or because like Arjun he goes onto win his battles with the help of God, but because of the consummate performer he is. He suits the middle-class, Gujarati milieu as much as he commands attention when fighting an absurd battle against power and corruption both of the religious class and politicians. Mithun Chakraborty as the effeminate, money-mongering godman becomes a fierce opponent and he employs mere gestures and expressions to communicate ever-so effectively. Govind Namdeo and Murli Sharma are reduced to caricatures like many other one-sided characters in the film, but that may just be a reflection of the vacuously single-dimensional world we seem to be living in.

The film uses a conventional narrative and is low on production values. It is much too peopled many times and frames are very obstructive. The chaos of our daily lives is no poetry but there is a certain tackiness to the film that undermines its class. However, its commitment to its subject and the means it takes to drive down simple truths of our religious habits are non-facile and convincing. And much-needed in times like ours.

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