Omkara

I love nothing better than delicious cultural fusion, so I was highly entertained by “Omkara,” the Bollywood retelling of Othello. It’s been out since 2006, but I’m slow about these things. Omkara, played by Ajay Devgan, is a gangster who enforces mob rule for his boss Bhaisaab. He’s a devilishly suave dude who wins the heart of sweet innocent Dolly, though her father warns him that she will never be faithful to him.

When Bhaisaab gains more power, Omkara has the opportunity to promote one of his own gang to the position of “general” (i.e., enforcer). Omkara picks his loyal friend Kesu, but his brother-in-law Langda thinks that he should have had the position. Langda starts scheming, hijinks ensue, there is singing and gunfire and tragedy … I bet you can guess how it ends.

The film was very well received over the ocean in the US and Europe, so it probably disappointed Bollywood purists, as most things with cross-cultural appeal will do. But the music is absolutely great. I watched the movie with these awful subtitles, so I even got to know a little bit about what the songs were saying. They’re way fun. Omkara gets his own theme song (about what a hard-bitten gangsta he is) and the pieces alternate from the bump-and-grind of “Beedi” to the heartfelt duet “O Saathi Re,” sung in the last peaceful sunlit moments Dolly and Omkara have together before they’re ripped apart by circumstance.

It’s a great movie for anyone — there’s love and gunfire and tragedy and family and loyalty and dancing girls and good-looking fellas in sunglasses singing their hearts out. Put it on your Netflix queue and get ready for a good time. Here’s a trailer if you want to give it a preview (a short one or a long one with more English).

Omkara — Omkara

<>Omkara — O Saathi Re

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