When Shakespeare penned Othello it was set in Venice ,but it has a universal theme which is timeles and Vishal has adapted it to set it in the Cowbelt in India, in a rural milieu with a genuine village dialect and a very indigenious rural 'mafioso' setting ,
The eternal story of a man woman relationship destroyed by scepticism and fake suspicions fuelled by paranoia,envy and petty jealousy -mendacity and rumor-mongering by villainous foes and friends alike ,who have an axe to grind whether for power or greed has been made for the screen numerous times ,but the execution and settings here almost transform it to an Indian parabhle ,as you see local politicians in rural India negotiating ploitical deals on a moving lorry on a makeshift dirt road as if it is a plush office ,and the chanting hindu monks on an antique and majestic hilltop temple presiding over ancient hindu rituals ,the political assassinations by a mafia gang of an opponent in a moving public train compartment ,and the true to life dialogues which are both wise and profane but always heavenly to hear.
The life like characters mouthing the quaint local dialect weave a spell on your senses in a delicate mesh and at the same time its rivetting to behold the visual splendour and trivial detail which enfolds on the screen in artful imagery like a "caravaggioesque chiorascuro"work of art .
Your psyche is immersed in colours and sounds which almost are so vivid as to make you smell the odours as if you are transported to the locales and virtually experiencing the rustic surroundings , though amazingly it is shot almost like a baroque European painting in the tradition of 'Visconti'and'Fellini'with lurking shadows and muffled sounds to give it a neo-real and classical operatic feel ,and despite the fact influences of Bertolucci and Sergio Leone abound , the director has a visual sense which makes this totally original.
Images of a semi lit indian village in the dusky light in the twilight hour ,cow dung thatched on walls of traditional mansions , a random kite caught in the electric pole in an anonymous alley give you enough hints that a master storyteller is at work par excellence ,unleashing the human envy that evokes an endless wrath ,is embellished in omkara with a passion that is seethingly powerful and evocatively sensuous .
Kareena kapoor is a ravishingly beautiful Desdemona and she is rivetting to watch as she emotes to the love indulgences and latter the jealous rages of Omkara [Ajay devgan] ,as an illegitimate and a half caste son of a local chieftain,while he is also the head of the local mafia that controls both politics and organised crime,as almost the virtual ruler of the local domain .
Saif ali Khan plays Tyagi the limping , double dealing, evil villain and steals the show in an author backed role ,while Vivek oberoi is the second lieutenant of Omkara, used as a love bait by tyagi to entrap the innocent Desdemona and Vivek oberoi in a deceitful trap, and Bipasha basu and Oberoi as the secretive lovers are erotically charming and share agreat chemistry and presence ,while Saif khan and Konkona Sen play husband and wife in some truly sensual love scenes and form the spine of the hysterically paranoid tale where Saif[tyagi] in a rage of envy over a petty jealousy destroys many lives .
The peripheral supporting roles are even more stunning as Bipasha basu as the foul mouthed rural celebrity dancer courtesan , and Konkona Sen as the loyal wife who can empathise with desdemona's distress over omkara's scepticism give suerprisingly realistic portrayals , even the two dance numbers are innovatively stylish and realistic where miss Basu has performed some truly exotic traditional indian dances ,both "beeri" and "namak "are written beautifully by Gulzar ,composed by Vishal and executed with utmost panache by miss Bipasha ,in an operatic mode interspersed with live action and dialogues .
The dialogues are natural and still very catchy and expressive and are kept to the minimum,whereby the director tries to deliver a purely visual treat ,as in one background song alone the director has narrated the whole event where the star crossed lovers originally meet and the accidental meeting evolves into a torrid love affair thus giving ample proof of his immaculate directiorial technique .
Here mobile phones are used instead of the telltale eavesdroppers from the original story and a bejewelled waist-band,aprecious family heirloom is used to substitute the notorious hand kerchief ,these are ingenious indeed ,but you expect it from the guy who made 'Maqbool' ,but here he has even surpassed thaT classic moulded out of 'Macbeth' in Muslim Mumbai ,and that is a masterly feat .