It’s ironical that Oh My God releases just at a time when our city’s Ganpati Bappa celebrations are at a jumpingum pumpingum peak. As we keep getting bombarded with Jai Ganeshaay and Omkar Swarupa aartis and traffic jams at every corner, it’s pretty easy to warm to OMG’s theme – its strong debate against idol worship, blind superstition, divine bribes and glam spirituality. Oh, but it really turns out to be a pretty long statement. For a film with a straight single track linear story that is.
Kanji Lalji Mehta (Paresh Rawal) runs a small shop of artefacts in Chor Bazaar and thinks nothing of bluffing his way about to manipulate God-fearing people into buying his overpriced stuff. People around him mock him for his lack of faith in God and other divine powers. One day Kanji’s shop is destroyed in an earthquake. The insurance company refuses to honour his claim saying their claim is null in case of an act of God. Kanji decides to sue God (he goes to an advocate called Hanif Qureshi!) and a few religious trusts for compensation and sets in motion a nationwide movement, for and against idol worship. Then God (Akshay Kumar) decides to pay Kanji a visit and engages with him in a debate about spirituality and faith.
Great idea. It’s worked very well as a play. It makes many relevant points about the widespread corruption and money mismanagement in religious charitable trusts and wastage of food in religious activities. But the concept hasn’t translated so well on film. The verbal volleys that would be so spontaneous and impactful in the play aren’t working that well in the film. The biggest problem is the bad picture. So many shots in this film – particularly the whole long courtroom climax – are totally grainy and blurred. Plus the quality of picture differs from scene to scene. For some reason Akshay’s shot in some soft focus glow that looks out of sync with the rest of the film. The second problem shows in the obvious continuity errors – the most glaring being: it’s raining abundantly in the galli where Sonakshi is breaking a dahi handi but surprisingly dry where Kanji’s son is breaking his handi merely two gallis away.
The high point of the film is its performances: Paresh Rawal is great; with his trademark wit and humour very much in place, he manages most of the show on his own. It’s wonderful to just see him play his age this time. So is Kanji’s friend Mahadeo (Ratnaparkhi). Akshay looks chiknya as ever but there isn’t really much of him. Godman I Govind Namdeo overacts as usual. In a rare role as an effeminate spiritual guru, Godman II Mithun Chakravarty manages to make a big impression, even with very few dialogues.
At the end of it, Umesh Shukla’s film makes its point but ends up preachy. And frankly, the people who must watch it will be busy lining up barefoot for Bappa’s darshan.