OM SHANTI OM
With dazzling musical numbers, India’s biggest leading man in Shah Rukh Khan, and cameos by nearly every Bollywood star, Om Shanti Om is a blockbuster extravaganza for the ages. Renowned choreographer-turned-director Farah Khan (Main Hoon Na) pulls out all the stops to squeeze in comedy, melodrama, action and suspense in a masala mix of epic proportions.
The irrepressible Shah Rukh plays Om Prakash, a “junior artiste” (i.e., extra) in the ‘70s studio system, dreaming of becoming a star while swooning over the top starlet of the day, Shanti (radiant newcomer Deepika Padukone). He manages to get Shanti’s attention and develop a friendship with her, but they both meet a tragic end at the hands of Shanti’s nefarious producer-husband. Not to worry, though, as thirty years later Om is reincarnated as superstar Om Kapoor, who seeks to avenge Shanti’s killing.
At once a parody of and homage to the unbridled, anything-goes exuberance of Hindi musicals from the ‘70s, Om Shanti Om even references such Western classics as Singin’ in the Rain and Phantom of the Opera. Never taking things too seriously, the film serves up an endless array of colorful showstoppers: a retro fantasia in which Shah Rukh transforms from tennis player to pirate; Shah Rukh baring his much-hyped new six-pack in a song titled “Pain of Disco,” and a 91/2-minute stunner featuring a roll call of 31 past and present stars boogeying down with our hero. As long as you can suspend disbelief, this is Bollywood entertainment at its spectacular best. -- Taro Goto