Om has no meaning, and its origins are lost in the mists of time. Om is considered to be the primeval sound, the sound of the universe, the sound from which all other sounds are formed.
Om Shanti Om, (2015) dir. Farah Khan is a film that celebrates Bollywood itself. The film opens with Om Prakash Makhija, a junior artist in love with film superstar Shanti Priya set in 1970s Hindi cinema. One evening, Om attends the premiere of Shanti’s film and envisions himself as the lead actor, Manoj Kumar. Om and his friend Pappu only manage to score numerous small acting roles as extras. At a shooting of a film a fire breaks out and Om rescues Shanti, and they become friends. However, things turn sour as he witnesses Shanti’s murder and in the process of saving her, he dies as well. The soul of Om Prakash reincarnates into the newborn Om Kapoor, who have visions and memories of his previous life. As the tagline suggests: For some dreams, one lifetime is not enough.
Mukesh, Shanti’s secret lover, reveals his true colours.
The themes of religion, reincarnation, and love are prevalent in this film. In this entry, I will touch on concepts in the film that stood out to me.
Om: Auṃ or Oṃ, Sanskrit: ॐ
A sacred sound and a spiritual icon in Hindu religion. For Hindus, Aum is seen as a fundamental component of the physical and metaphysical tenets of Hinduism – the means and the goal of life, the world and the Truth behind it, the material and the Sacred, all form and the Formless. Aum is one of the most chanted sound symbols in India.
Shanti: Shanti, Santhi or Shanthi (Sanskrit: शान्तिः, śāntiḥ, Sanskrit pronunciation: [ʃaːnt̪iɧ]; शम śam: ‘be calm’)
Shanti means peace, rest, calmness, tranquility, or bliss.
This film holds names as a significant role and is reflected through their characters belief of their names determining their success. In the above scenes, the lead, Om Prakash Makhija complains to his mother that “with a name like Makhija, I will never be a hero!” even though his first and second name means Lord and Light. His mother, although clearly distressed, comforts her son and reassures him.
This brings me to my second point, which is the role of Mothers in Hindi films.
THE MOTHER ROLE IN HINDI CINEMA
Dr. Vikrant Kishore mentions the mother figure in Bollywood films through “Understanding Bollywood through Om Shanti Om’.” “The mother figure has always been worshipped and prayed to in Indian culture through the form of the Mother Goddess. Mothers have been accorded the status of goddess at home and in society. In films, mothers were the ultimate women. They were tranquil, immaculate, and morally above reproach. The mother bore all the misfortunes and hardship to give her children protection and a good life.”
In the film, Om’s mother served as his guidance and protector in the two lives she lead, the former who vowed to stay with him and believed that he would come back through reincarnation, and the latter who ultimately paved her way to reunite with her son again.
Even though the director’s statement paints the film to be a celebration of Bollywood cinema, there were some themes in the film that referenced Hollywood’s style.
Being a huge musical nerd, I found out that this number heavily references The Phantom of the Opera (and also a snippet of Singin’ in the Rain, if you know what you’re looking for).
The use of English was also heavily smattered throughout the musical numbers.
To conclude, my first Bollywood film was 3 hr 16m, and Shah Rukh Khan’s handsome face (and 6 pack) was a true sight to behold in every minute. To end off this blog post, here’s a quote from Om Makhija that we can all learn from, differences put aside.
Om Makhija: Kitni shiddat se tumhe paane ki koshish ki hai.. Ki har zarre ne mujhe tumse milane ki saazish ki hai.. Kehte hain agar kisi cheez ko agar dil se chaho to saari kayanath tumhe usse milane ki koshish me lag jaati hai.. aaj aap sabne milke mujhe meri chahat se milaya.. Thank you very much.. and I feel like I am the king of the world… Aaj mujhe yakeen hogaya doston, ki hamari zindagi bhi hamare hindi filmon ke jaisa hi hai.. jaha pe end mein sab kuch theek ho jaata hai.. “Happies Endings”.. Lekin agar End mein sab kuch theek na ho to woh the end nahi hain dosto.. Picture abhi baaki hai..
I have tried so hard to get you that every being has conspired to bring us together. They say that if you wish for something from your heart, the entire universe will try to get it for you. Today all of you have brought me together with my love. Thank you very much. I feel like I am the king of the world. Today, my friends, I am convinced that our real lives are like our Hindi films, where everything ends on a positive note. Happy endings. And if everything does not turn out well in the end, then that is not the end, there is more to the movie.