This is pointless excercise, 2-3 weeks after the film has released. It would have been equally pointless at the time of release, seeing as how all MSM people are gaga over Shah Rukh and Farah Khan. But hey, it allows me to think about a Hindi movie, and to compete with friend lexicomaniac (whom I've now beaten to the review. Poor chap's in Amsterdam)
People say Om Shanti Om is a remake of Karz. I disagree. Karz was about reincarnation - specifically of Rishi Kapoor's character, and the impact on other characters in the plot. This movie isn't.
What Om Shanti Om is is an adaptation of ''The Truman Show''. Like Jim Carrey in the Truman Show SRK acts as someone who is in a movie, as opposed to a person of flesh and blood. Like Truman in the Truman Show, SRK reaches out to the audience, unshackled by the confines of whoever he is supposed to be, rather than to his fellow cast. And like in The Truman Show, the broken fourth wall context is required so as not to mistake the protagonist's actions for overacting.
But, you will ask, is that not the same case with any Shah Rukh film since Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa? No, for the simple reason that unlike any previous SRK (or non-SRK for that matter) film, everyone and their respective characters - who coincidentally are all movie people - is aware they are in a movie. Farah Khan is aware of SRK's Truman-esque behaviour (he, unlike Truman, is aware he is in a movie) and recognizes its potential dissonance (to put it mildly) with the narrative flow of a film. She solves this problem by tearing apart the fourth wall altogether, and making every character (save Arjun Rampal) conscious of his/her role in the grand scheme of things both sides of the silver screen. It's no coincidence that "Om Shanti Om" - the film title - is not only the compounded name of the lead pair, but also of the film being made within the film. Very Shakespearan. On the upside, this fissure in the fourth wall (widened every few minutes) makes Shah Rukh's Khan-isms and hamming (which could compare with the output of Oscar Mayer's largest factory) easier to bear. On the downside, when everyone knows they're in a film, what exactly is it that you're seeing? Greatbong calls it a product, which I guess it is, for the reason that it is something that makes money.
The plot is exceedingly simple - Boy (SRK) meets girl (Deepika). Both die. Both are reborn. Both meet again. Somebody else (bad guy - Arjun Rampal) dies. In between, the whole of Bollywood does an extended cameo in a party, for no other reason than to blur the lines between fact and fiction even further.
A note about this cameo by the way. It included Akshay Kumar in a Khiladi avatar that has to be seen to be believed - something for the archives of YouTube. It included Jeetendra, who looks remarkably well preserved for his age, and Tushar Kapoor, who presumably got in by supergluing himself to his father.
Shah Rukh Khan is, well, Truman with the self-awareness and a six-pack. Deepika Padukone is HOT. I mean it. The only song worth a dekko in the whole film is the one where she's a cabaret dancer from the 70's. She's got a beautiful smile too. Unfortunately, that's about it. She's eye candy, and in this flick, has a role comparable to one of the 295 unnamed Spartans from 300.
Arjun Rampal does a decent job as a villain. More significantly, he is the one person in the whole movie who is unaware he is in a movie. Kudos to him for that. He and his shifty-eyed villain though, are perfunctory characters, comparable to one of the thousands of unnamed Persians from 300. Considering his similarly sidey role in Don, I wonder if he has to shine SRK's shoes or clean his trailer on set or something. Poor fellow.
OSO in all is a weird thing, a sort of Powerpoint presentation where Shah Rukh is slide template, layout and 90% of the content. It knows itself to be one. The question is, do we?