OMG2 should have been a ‘U’-rated film with its vital theme

Akshay Kumar and Pankaj Tripathi in OMG2. Photo: Hype PR

A senior colleague, whose opinions I generally respect, opined that the film was entertaining but outdated. The lady wondered how Yami Gautam Dhar’s character Kamini (note the name and its connotation with Kaam or sex, that is missed by most and cannot be a coincidence!), a modern and practical female lawyer, can consider mention of sex and the performance of ‘hast-maithun’ (or masturbation) a sin in this day and age, that too in a city.

I beg to differ. At least in India, even today in metros, openness about sex, masturbation included, is neither practiced nor encouraged. And here, we are talking about small town Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, where the story is based. Yes, some schools in India do have sex education, but they are in an absolute minority and it is banned in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka—at least!

The progressive storyline here revolves around a temple priest, a devoted and righteous man named Kanti Sharan Mudgal (Pankaj Tripathi), who is living a content life with wife (Geeta Agrawal), and teenage son Vivek (Aarush Verma) and daughter Damayanti (Anvesha Vij). Suddenly, one day, he is summoned to a local hospital where Vivek has been admitted. The problem is an overdose of the sexual prowess-boosting tablet, Viagra. The doctor (Brijendra Kala) warns Kanti to be considerate and caring with his son, but all hell breaks loose when a video of Vivek masturbating in the school washroom goes viral.

As society and the school authorities gang up on poor Vivek, a “messenger of God” (read Lord Shiva) wearing harem pants and sporting long locks, rescues Vivek from physical hurt by attempted suicide as well as in the police station where he is summoned for beating up a classmate who always harasses him and is a part of the video-making gang. The school decides to rusticate Vivek and it is advised that Kanti and his family leave town for a few days.

The messenger of God advises Kanti to fight for his son instead, and take the school and everyone else responsible for Vivek’s condition (including a chemist, a doctor and a ‘baba’ who pretends to have cures for sexual ailments) to task. Kanti files a case in court. And most of the rest of the happenings take place in a battle of wits between the school’s counsel, Kamini (Yami) and Kanti, who takes on the onus of defending his son as well as taking the guilty to task.

The judge (Pawan Kumar Malhotra), happily, is an unbiased soul. And the trial begins, wherein, against Kamini’s organized and well-prepared briefs, Kanti, on the advice of his long-haired benefactor, unleashes ancient texts like Kama Sutra, Khajuraho and Panchatantra and more as well as old newspapers with pertinent matter.

The arguments seem too in-your-face but are not, which brings us to the irony that this film has been allotted an ‘Adults Only’ rating! This means that open-minded parents might learn how to cope up with their children and advise them correctly on sexual matters, but the most important audience—the teenagers—miss out on this film, at least until it streams!

The film makes a case for the way the British manipulated in Indians a Victorian mindset that has caused this malaise, shows how even non-Hindu communities are affected by it, and also proclaims another truth—that Sanatan Hindu religion was surging ahead as a progressive and scientific way of life even as other religions were yet to find their footing.

The conclusion, though satisfactory for the cause, becomes too ornate and more than a tad ‘filmi’ (overdramatic and a shade illogical) and conveniently overlooks the fellow classmates of Vivek, who are never taken to task for their ghoulish act of secretly filming Vivek. Maybe the act becoming the catalyst for this movie’s plot and societal change made writer-director Amit Rai skip that angle.

Because, otherwise, Amit Rai’s script is well-balanced with pith, fact, humor, seriousness and wit. It is extremely intelligent, pertinent to this day and age, and to our nation, and sends a vital message to all. And the best part is that the film does not become dry, drab or farcical. It is transparent in its sincerity, light in its tenor and brings in a fresh kind of entertaining slant to a social problem. I would say that this can be easily be the most satisfying film on sexual education after Vicky Donor.

As a side, I must mention that the use of ‘Udd jaa kaale kaawa’ from the co-release Gadar 2 seems too much of a coincidence. It is interestingly placed in at a juncture as sung by the messenger of God. We all know about Akshay Kumar’s pranks and this is one of the best!

A good film always stands tall on the three legs of script, direction and editing, and Amit Rai deftly manages the first two, and we must recall his similar high standards in Road to Sangam (2010), his sterling debut that was never meant to be a mainstream opus.

Suvir Nath’s editing is the icing on this confection and so are the rest of the technical aspects. Mangesh Dhakde’s background score is loud but perhaps apt, but the assorted tunesmiths cannot churn out a single memorable song, unlike the first OMG—Oh My God!, which had at least two songs of merit.

Akshay Kumar in OMG2. Photo: Hype PR

Akshay Kumar is superb and looks cool indeed as the Lambhorgini-driving-but-followed-by-a-Nandi (Lord Shiva’s bull!) messenger of God. His dialogues are rendered inimitably well, and his goofy smile comes in as a great weapon. Yami Gautam Dhar as a stern counsel who breaks into dangerous (read menacing) smiles and is excellent. I also liked the interpreter of pure Hindi in court (an actor I do not know by name). As Vivek, Aarush Verma is perfectly cast and gives an apt performance. Anvesha Vij as his sister Damayanti and Geeta Agrawal as his mother are effective in their various shades. The rest of the players are also good, with Arun Govil making a mark in the gray role of the principal.

However, the out and out winners in the performance department are Pankaj Tripathi as Kanti and Pawan Kumar Malhotra (who was stunning in Amit’s Road to Sangam as well) as the judge. These are indeed histrionic essays that stand tall in 2023. Kanti is the quintessential priest and a caring father driven to the limit of his endurance. He is determined yet a tad vulnerable in his mission and passion to exonerate his son. As for Pawan, I do not remember a better on-screen judge, irrespective of the meat in their characters, in years in Hindi cinema. His performance remains a textbook in what acting is all about.

OMG2, in the final analysis, despite some tiny flaws that are both ‘overlookable’(to coin a term) and not-so-noticeable, is one of those all-too-rare socially therapeutic films that determinedly entertain the viewer while fulfilling their responsibilities to society. What Hrishikesh Mukherjee described often as a ‘sugar-coated pill, where the sugar should not exceed the medicine’. OMG2 strikes that perfect midway path.

Rating: ****

Cape of Good Films, Viacom18 Studios & Wakaoo Films present OMG2  Produced by: Aruna Bhatia, Ashwin Varde, Vipul D. Shah, Rajesh Bahl, Swaroop Sampat Rawal, Ajit Andhare, Jyoti Deshpande & Hemal A. Thakkar Written & Directed by: Amit Rai  Music: Vikram Montrose, Hansraj Raghuwanshi, Djstrings, Pranaay & Sandesh Shandilya  Starring: Akshay Kumar, Pankaj Tripathi, Yami Gautam Dhar, Aarush Verma, Pawan Kumar Malhotra, Anvesha Vij, Geeta Agrawal, Govind Namdeo, Arun Govil, Parag Chhapekar, Brijendra Kala, Simran Sharma & others






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