Farah Khan, in her second directorial venture, literally builds on these very celluloid dreams which Manoj envies. By virtue of her cinematic liaison with SRK, this gen-now jodi has been proclaimed the designated successor to Amitabh Bachchan & Manmohan Desai (thought Desai was slightly overrated, Farah has shown more promise, but maybe I am gen-now).
As masala cinema, OSO pales in comparison to Main Hoon Na. For pure new-age Bollywood style, it is inferior to Farhan Akhtar's Don (which was updated from the 70s to the new century, while OSO goes the other way round). In fact, what it actually does well is to show RGV how to pay tributes. What it does not do (by a distance) is surpass his Rangeela, as a movie about the movies.
OSO is Karz meets Mehbooba (or is it Kudrat?). It kicks off brilliantly, set thirty years ago, with the actual Karz with the actual Om Shanti Om song being shot very enthusiastically by the actual Ghai (to get a reference, Karz was released in 1980, so the 'now' in the film can only imply 2009 at the best; I nitpick because SRK claimed that he wanted to make the reincarnation settings authentic, by depicting change of generations). However, the 70s spirit of the movie actually expands to include all cinema Farah has witnessed and got impressed by, even Maine Pyaar Kiya (cutely done).
OSO is a SRK stardom venture through-and-through. A self-confessed hammer, he starts off playing a junior artiste Om, with starry dreams and a serious crush on the country's biggest female star. His takeoffs incorporate Mother India (Sunil Dutt saving Nargis on the sets), Rajnikanth (the South Indian spoof is funny, but does it border on racism, I cannot say), any romantic actor driving his lady love in a static car against a moving frame (as shown in the B&W oldies), and even the classical struggling youth with a doting mother who makes him his favourite kheer. Kiron Kher (who plays his in-the-same-profession mom) and his interaction are the best spoofs. The chemistry between the two is as electric as SRK shared with her hubby Anupam in DDLJ. The scene where Deepika talks to a speaking-in-mind but totally tongue-tied SRK (a joke repeated from Main Hoon Na, but still looks fresh), his expressions are absolutely brilliant (as Baradwaj puts it, he finds perfect use for his famous stammer and quivering lips). His drunken victory speech rehearsal - borrowed from Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist - is quite exhilarating (playing a huge role during the second half of the movie, when he is reborn as the superstar OK).
A real-life very young Deepika Padukone (a case of child molestation as put by SRK on Times Now) looks suitably matched on screen opposite him. Hers is possibly the best packaged debut since Hritik Roshan. It remains to be seen whether she can emote as well as him (because of his looks and dancing skills, Hritik the actor is quite under-rated; Aamir Khan considers him the best mainstream Bollywood actor). Deepika pays her own tribute to the then diva and still ravishing Hema Malini, although she shows off a lot more cleavage than Hema ji ever did. In one of the song items, she also does a Helen/Aroona Irani types gypsy number, a miscalculation to my mind as possibly till Zeenat Aman broke the barrier in Qurbani in 1980, the actress-vamp dance numbers were seriously demarcated in Hindi cinema.
Shreyas Talpade as SRK's buddy has already displayed his tremendous mimicking skills in Dor. His joke on SRK's surname (Makhija vis-a-vis Kapoor) sets just the right tone. Also, unlike Kiron Kher who ages very shabbily, Shreyas manages the thirty year transtion smoothly. The villain Rampal is possibly modelled on the cool, suave KN Singh.
After a brilliant and tib-tickling first hour, OSO slows down considerably. At the end of the first half, the lovers die, never really united. The entire approach towards their death, SRK's dreamy reincarnation, his bimbettish stardom, his reacquisition of lost memories and relations, his coincidental discovery of Deepika's lookalike, and his consequent revenge plan on the villain Rampal range from expected to boring. Even for a movie based on rebirth and the supernatural, you expect slightly greater authenticity. The best bit is when to denote the reversal of stardoms, a giant poster of Deepika is replaced by the real SRK Tag Heur ad.
The weakest aspect of the film is the rather ordinary music (relative to Main Hoon Na's frothiness). Javed Akhtar's romanticism comes to the fore in his poetry likening SRK's heart to a kite, to float in Deepika's air-like-breath. The multi-starrer Om Shanti Om song is inspired from the more hummable John Johnny Janardan of Desai's Naseeb, and simply drags on (especially when characters like Amrita Arora and Dino Morea make an entry like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt). Dard-e-Disco, the popular 6-pack item number (a total waste as it all looks digital), is more memorable for the reel-movie for which it was shot (Apahij Pyaar, just check out the shot SRK gives for it). And the absolute shocker is the update of the legendary Ek Hasina Thi number. Possibly, the best musical composition is the theme tune which runs across all songs, but I am not sure who deserves credit for that - music directors Vishal Shekhar or background music composer Sandeep Chowta.
The good thing about SRK, Farah and their yuppie gang is that they have the rare ability to laugh on themselves. With no disrespect to their massive cinematic wisdom, all the intellectuals who write on www.passionforcinema.com can possibly learn to lighten up from them. Farah's OSO is as self-indulgent as Kashyap's No Smoking was, and I am okay with both (maybe will try and put a post on that). Both flicks ask you to suspend your belief. The difference lies in the content and the high-mindedness backing it - one is made for pure fun, one is made to try to think and understand.
In OSO, Farah Khan mocks everyone - Rajesh Khanna, Dev Anand, Manoj Kumar, Shabana Azmi (herself making fun of her activism), Akshay Kumar (his Khiladi cameo is copied from a viral), Abhishek Bachchan, and even SRK (check out his movies nominations). To denote the dimwittedness of current times, OK proves his versatility by doing a disco item number (as he had already done a qawalli, in Main Hoon Na?), only to look good (hence the 6-packs) in a movie he had to 'act' in. To denote the insularity of the industry, Om succeeds only when he gets the right lineage (which rather goes against SRK's non-filmi originated stardom).
The most redeeming feature of the movie is that for all its Bollywood-style happy-ending formula, in the traditions of all our epics, it is primarily a tale of unrequited love. If only the middle had kept up with the beginning, and the very end, it would have definitely surpassed Karz.