Om Shanti Om, A Marriage of Peace and Light.

Om_symbol.svgOm (Oṃ)

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.

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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.

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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.

NAMES

OmAuṃ or Oṃ, Sanskrit:

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.

ShantiShanti, Santhi or Shanthi (Sanskrit: शान्तिः, śāntiḥ, Sanskrit pronunciation[ʃaːnt̪iɧ]; शम śam: ‘be calm’)

Shanti means peace, rest, calmness, tranquility, or bliss.

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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.

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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.

WESTERN INFLUENCES

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.

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3 thoughts on “Om Shanti Om, A Marriage of Peace and Light.

  1. Love the use of GIFs and scenes to spice up the review! Interesting that you pointed out the importance of names in the film and the fact that the names will reflect on how successful they are. Especially in the first scene when Om Prakash wanted to change his name to aid his career in becoming a star. This actually relates to us to a certain extend as we Chinese also believe in something similar, where most parents visit a fengshui master to name their children (Chinese names).

    Another thing you pointed out is the use of English throughout the film being a Western influence. They probably used English to seem more modernised and to connect better with foreign audience. However, I feel that the use of English was unnecessary as we watch Bollywood films for the essence and culture of it. It may have been more authentic if they used Hindi throughout.

    Overall, loved the review!

    Like

  2. Loved your quote at the end of your review from Om Makhija (Did you actually type everything down in a language that you don’t understand? Haha.) I never knew about the symbolism and deeper meaning to the main character’s names as well! Being knew to Bollywood, it was also my first time listening to these songs. Although it wouldn’t be on my Spotify playlist, I wouldn’t mind just having it as some background music if I were to travel somewhere. Your highlights of the similarities to Phantom of the Opera were also very insightful. Overall, it was a great blog post that actually brought in many things that were not part of the movie, but helped to deepen our understanding of it. Great job!

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  3. The author begins her review by highlighting each individual concept components of the film which stood out to her. The concept of ‘Names’ particularly interested me as it was an element I failed to recognise in the film. I like how you explained the meanings behind the names of the main characters, where ‘Om’ referred to a sacred sound and spiritual icon, while ‘Shanti’ meant peace, rest and tranquillity. The names reflected off well and I could see the attributes of the names in their characters. The second concept the author mentioned was the role of mothers in Hindi film. I did not take much notice of the motherly characters in Om Shanti Om as they did not play major roles. However, I like how you highlighted that in India cultures, the mother figure has always been worshipped as a goddess at home and in society. Om’s mother, although not standing out much in film, played an important role in establishing the foundation of Om’s character. Overall, a very eye-opening review, the author mentioned many points I have failed to capture in the film.

    Like

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