Rhythm of the Music is Life's only Motivation

Friday, August 11, 2006

Othello vs Omkara

OTHELLO, the Moor of Venice Review

Shakespeare was one of the greatest writers ever and one of the best script writers known all over the world. His abstract genius was impeccable. His works like Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Julius Caesar have made history. His writing brought the characters to life.

The story of Othello:
It starts with Roderigo and Iago plotting against Othello and Cassio. They raise the issue of Desdemona to Brabanzio. Brabanzio approaches the Duke but the issue is resolved when Desdemona confesses love for Othello. Othello explains he narrated stories of adventure in travel and war. After that he leaves for Cyprus to fight Turkish army along with Desdemona, Iago and Cassio.

When they reach there they are informed that the Turkish army has been destroyed at sea. There Othello calls for celebration and as Iago who wants revenge for the lieutenant’s position given to Cassio, he sees that he can create a misunderstanding between Othello and Desdemona. Iago then makes Roderigo understand that he should fight with Cassio and disgrace himself. And so it happens but while chasing Roderigo when provoked Cassio accidentally stabs Governor Montano. This invokes fury all over.

Othello stops his marriage plans and comes to the place of commotion. He asks for justification but Iago cleverly tries to shield his friend Cassio. But Othello punishes Cassio by stripping him off his post of Lieutenant. Cassio is extremely upset over the issue and asks for help from Iago. Iago sees another opportunity here and tell him that only Desdemona can help him now. Iago tells Cassio that he will take Othello away so that he can talk to Desdemona. Desdemona is sympathetic but Othello comes back and sees Cassio leave Desdemona. Iago fuels the spark makes it look like Cassio leaving in a hurry to avoid being caught by Othello. Othello is now burning with jealousy.

Othello is heart broken now and Desdemona fails to understand the reason. Meanwhile Emilia, Iago’s wife takes a handkerchief back home. Iago finds it and becomes very happy.
He plants the handkerchief in Cassio’s room as evidence. Iago makes Othello realize the missing handkerchief and he asks for it from Desdemona. She is not able to produce it. This makes Othello very angry and he has fits (epilepsy). Iago fixes a meeting with Cassio during this time. He makes Cassio talk about Bianca ad his love for her but Othello hiding close by interprets it as Cassio confessing his love for Desdemona. Here Lodovico comes as a replacement for Cassio.

Othello questions Desdemona and calls her a ‘whore’, but Desdemona and Emilia both are not able to convince Othello. Iago then sees the opportunity. He sends Roderigo to kill Cassio. But Cassio is not killed and though badly injured he kills Roderigo. Iago then covers u the murder ad gets Cassio attended to. Meanwhile Othello weeping kills his wife. Emilia comes with the news that Roderigo is dead but when she sees Desdemona she explains her innocence. Iago comes in and tries to silence her but Othello realizes his mistake and weeps with regret. Iago kills Emilia. Othello kills himself. Iago tries to run away but is caught by Lodovico and Montano and punished. The play ends with a speech from Lodovico explaining hatred and jealousy.

Such a dark play, well handled with each character brought to life. Such exquisite timing and plots can only be the works of a magician of emotions.
One feels for Othello, but Shakespeare’s plays are known for their hard hitting truths and sad ends to beautifully presented characters.


Talk about making a film on a Shakespeare play and the first thing that comes to your mind is, Will I be able to execute the genius of Shakespeare? Will I be able to evoke the emotions every character provides? Will I be able to get the performances from my crew?
Well, if you are Vishal Bharadwaj then the answer has to be Yes!

Character Sketches
Omkara Shukla (Omi) – A sound leader who guides his men and knows their talents well. Somehow as the story progresses we realize how ego can tumble armies. He is also the right man of a politician who uses his skills to the tune of Lok Sabha elections.
This character is played by Ajay Devgan (winner of National award for brilliance in acting).

Dolly - A simple girl of a lawyer. She falls in love with Omkara when he comes to her house injured from a war. She is a typical housewife who cooks food and waits eagerly for her husband to return home. Also she fails to realize that her friendship with Kesu can become fatal for her. This character is played by Kareena Kapoor.

Langda Tyagi – The faithful and reliable man of Omkara. He accompanies Omkara for all the tasks assigned. Eventually it is his deserving post of ‘Bahubali’ which is sacrificed to Kesu which initiates jealousy in his mind. This jealousy further wrecks havoc ad destroys everything. This character is played by Saif Ali Khan (winner of National award for brilliance in acting).

Indu - A simple village girl who is the typical housewife. She plays a vital part in resolving homely issues. She also observes Omkara as her brother. She doesn’t realize that a small mistake on her part can make her husband use it as a vital ploy to create misunderstandings in relationships. This character is played by Konkana Sen Sharma.

Kesu – The only educated person in the scenario, he makes friends with everyone very easily. He has been a college friend of Dolly and both share a good rapport. He becomes the Bahubali but is the victim of jealousy and circumstances that arise out of hatred. This character is played by Vivek Oberoi.

Billo – The attractive prostitute of the place. She is the heart throb of every man. She eventually falls in love with Kesu and is also a victim of conspiracies. She helps Kesu in the best way she can and still manages to come out of the situation clean. This character is played by Bipasha Basu.

Bhaisahab – An apt character of a Hindu Brahmin politician. He is a father figure for the whole region. He has played the game sensibly and uses people like Omkara to full effect. He also treats them with special respect.
This character was played by Nasserudin Shah.

Raju – A cunning friend of Langda Tyagi. He is deeply in love with Dolly and cannot see Dolly with Omkara. He longs for her and in this context teams up with Langda to destroy Omkara. This character is played by Deepak Dobriyal.

According to play:

Omkara – Othello
Dolly – Desdemona
Langda Tyagi - Iago
Indu – Emilia
Kesu – Cassio
Billo – Bianca
Bhaisahab – Duke
Raju - Roderigo

Omkara begins with a bang. Of course Vishal Bharadwaj has handled Maqbool pretty well but when I talk of him as a director who sees the depth of the story I mean his vision is beyond words. He actually concentrates scene per scene. The traits I noticed in Mr. Bharadwaj’s vision were that he handles very difficult emotions like covetousness, anxiety and guilty very well. Let me first give you the story in a nutshell.

Omkara – story
The story starts with Langda disrupting Raju’s marriage with Dolly and Dolly comes to Omkara. Meanwhile one of the bigwigs of the state comes to Omkara and puts forth that Omkara must have threatened Dolly. But eventually the matter is sorted out in front of

Now politically Omkara grows strong and with him his two faithful companions Langda and Kesu are also going to be promoted. But the precious status of Bahubali is awarded to Kesu instead of Langda Tyagi. This invokes jealousy and an inferiority complex in Langda and he with Raju plots Omkara and Kesu’s downfall. In his son’s birthday party Langda make Kesu drink a lot and create nuisance in the party eventually fighting with Raju amongst important people. Omkara is very furious with the issue and repents on making Kesu the Bahubali.

Kesu tries to seek Dolly’s help in getting tings back to normal. In turn she asks for a favor and they spend some time together alone which is misinterpreted by Omkara as betrayal. Langda keeps pouring the oil in the fire by continuously bringing up the issue and again creating misunderstandings. The next time Omkara is with Dolly, Dolly asks for a favor which is to forgive Kesu. This time around Omkara’s patience gives away and he really gets angry with Dolly. He starts staying away from her and also remains gloomy. In the meanwhile Indu steals away an age old traditional ‘Kamarbandh’ (a waistband) from Dolly’s house. She wants to impress her husband by wearing it but in turn her husband and uses it in a negative way. He gives it to Kesu who in turn gifts the waistband to Billo.

Meanwhile Omkara is getting married; he carries out an execution of the attacker on Bhaisahab. When he does this by this time he also threatens Langda to bring the real proof of Dolly’s treachery. Langda smiles and realizes his plan has been a success when Omkara sees the waistband with Billo. Just during the marriage of Omkara, Langda plays another move and involves Billo creating the confusion that results in Omkara now becoming sure that his wife has been cheating on him. Omkara after marriage kills Dolly.
On the other hand Langda guides Raju to kill Kesu but instead Kesu kills Raju and survives though injured badly. When Indu realizes that Dolly has been murdered she clears the air and Omkara kills himself in guilt. Indu kills Langda in a fit of rage and commits suicide herself thus ending the tragedy of Omkara.

It seems that Bollywood is coming of age. To tackle something like no mean feat and in!. Vishal Bharadwaj has learnt quite a lot from his past mistakes and handled a dark film well. Saif is a Rock star and gives you a lot of entertainment value in an otherwise dark film.
“Saif has eaten the whole film,” gushed my friend as the credits list rolled down. It was a poignant site to see the standing audience to stay where they were and register who did what. I completely agree with my friend heartily impressed with Saif Ali Khan. Vishal Bharadwaj’s ‘Omkara’ certainly lived up to the audience expectations as well leaving them with the expression: Brilliant! For, the narrative of this adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello is a unique interspersing of Hollywood Western Vishal Bharadwaj, the captain of the ship knows precisely what he is doing. The poetic visuals, the dangerous power of jealousy, conviction in the actions of every character and to have the capability to understand the darker side of love makes him seem like a seasoned campaigner in his merely fourth outing as a director (The Blue Umbrella is yet to be released). The master stroke was reserved for the last where he conveys an entire situation through gestures and a puzzle of simple dissolves. His choice of cinematographer in Tasadduq Hussain shows his vision.
Some of the good points in the movie were:
1) A good 2 ½ hour movie fitted for the Indian audience backed by good music.
2) Modern gadgets used to full effect yet traditions followed.
3) Woman characters given equal importance and screen-time.

Now some of the mistakes which could be corrected were:
1) Some characters which were small but important went unnoticed.
2) The language though suited the background was sometimes difficult to understand.
3) The aftermath of the deadly night was not shown as in what happened after such a disaster.


Othello, the older bible of jealousy and hatred is still so much applicable in our life. The adaptation still invokes a large interest and manages to hold the audience in awe.
The process of making Omkara from Othello is almost like a heart transplant where everything has been aptly described. The technology used looks so natural and imbibing. Othello, the play had more sophistication and clear intentions from the start. Othello is also much deeper to understand and some statements are ideals. “I am not what I am” Possibly one of the most constructively contradictive of dialogues ever was a part of Iago’s speech in Othello. There have been many a movies inspired by Othello made in U.S and even Russia but this one goes further in terms of talent, technology and brilliance in film-making.
The difference in story was that the political backdrop instead of a war one provided more relevance for the Indian audience. Moreover the situation change from the avoidance of a war to a birthday of Langda Tyagi’s son was an appropriate choice. The power, the black envious colour of jealousy, every possible ploy was used to the maximum effect.A brilliant storyboard by Meghna Gulzar converted the Indianized setting for a great great movie. A Shakespeare play could have powerful dialogues and powerful performances. But the ambience, the combined effort and handling of so much talent is what separates the play and the movie. Conversely the character names so similar to the original inspiration bring the story very close.
In the original play, Othello’s “tragic flaw” is his jealousy, his inability to take things as they are, and a quality that Iago provokes and is successful at. Omkara, in spirit, stays true to that central theme and weaves all other conflicts around it. Having said that, Vishal has made the story his own and ends up humanizing Shakespeare’s characters with the necessary folklore and ethnic charm that is very close to the Indian ambience.

To be fair to the makers, there is a definite market both in India as well as abroad which will be interested in this fantastic Shakespearean adaptation. I would say, check out ‘Omkara’. It’s an Experience just to see Saif’s stained smile. Mr. Shakespeare you can rest in peace. Your heritage is in safe hands with Vishal Bharadwaj.


  • At Friday, August 11, 2006 , Blogger filter kaapi said...

    r u tryin anoder shakespeare???
    y d story's excerpts?????
    n wat sill negative observations- modern gadgets used yet....isnt d movie made in present day???...
    ....folklore and ethnic charm that is very close to the Indian ambience.(elaborate like i did)...

  • At Monday, August 14, 2006 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I havent read othello. the guys sounds like a loser anyway.
    Liked the way you compared the two. Nice review.
    Now on I want you to watch every movie and blog a review so I can decide whether I wanna watch it too.
    I will watch it cometime soon.

  • At Monday, August 14, 2006 , Blogger punjabi~car~freak! said...

    thanx anonynous.. next time plz mention ur name

  • At Wednesday, August 16, 2006 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    the anonymous there was me was in a hurry so didnt log in

  • At Sunday, August 20, 2006 , Blogger ANKIT said...

    my compliments..!

    superb review,,,

    i guess,,,,the best thing about this movie was that,,,,,
    though having commercially proven actors ajay,kareena,saif,vivek...~

    vishal stuck to his script and made a genuine attempt in making the film with complete authenticity,,,rather than getting drifted to have it more mass appealing...!

    even the songs were just brilliant...!

    kudos to kumar mangat(producer),vishal..!



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