Om Shanti Om


In some ways, the defining characteristic of Om Shanti Om is that it is not Saawariya, the competing musical that it opened against around the world last November. For one thing — and most obviously — Om Shanti Om is clearly a product of the existing Bollywood industry, featuring repeated and loving tributes to old-school Indian cinema. Saawariya, on the other hand, was widely perceived as the work of carpetbaggers — although it was directed by native son Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who made the hugely expensive hit Devdas in 2002, it was financed by Sony Pictures Entertainment, a Hollywood studio.

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I haven’t seen many Bollywood movies. It’s quite possible that, were I more familiar with their form and conventions — if the exotic-to-western-eyes spell they can cast were less of a novelty — I’d have a lot less patience with Saawariya and the endless tiny complications that sustain its otherwise threadbare boy-chases-girl storyline over more than two hours of screen time. Then again, were I a Bollywood fanboy, I might be even more enchanted by everything that Saawariya gets right — enough that I’d be less cognizant of what misses.

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