Call me Saarukkaan, everyone in Kodambakkam does

And God said, let there be light, and there was disco.

In 1973, Max Ehrlich wrote a novel called The Reincarnation of Peter Proud

In 1975, J Lee Thompson reincarnated the book as a movie with the same title.

In 1975, a Trinidadian soca musican named Lord Shorty (Ras Shorty I to be precise) wrote a song called Om Shanti Om.

In 1980, Subhash Ghai reincarnated The Reincarnation of Peter Proud as a Bollywood potboiler titled Karz.

Lakshmikanth-Pyarelal saw the light, got inspired by disco, and did some heavy duty Ctrl-C Ctrl-V and reincarnated Shorty’s song in Karz

The movie Karz was, strangely enough, about reincarnation.

Farah Khan reincarnated the concept of Karz into a slick, tribute movie titled, oh well, here we go again, Om Shanti Om

This movie has a movie inside a movie, titled, there’s no way you could have guessed it – Om Shanti Om.

And that movie-inside a movie is also about reincarnation.

And it turns out, the wrapper movie (the outer “for()” loop) is also about reincarnation.

Oh boy. It looks like reincarnation has been done to death by Bollywood. To which Bollywood retorts – But it’s reincarnation. If we do it do death, it will come back again. Ha ha ha.

And I saw OSO today. Bollywood suddenly decided to make a tribute movie, and by Flying-Spaghetti-Monster, they splurged. They managed to squeeze every campy, cheesy, corny cliche into a 150 minute package that I have to admit, was fairly entertaining. Well, as a Chennaiite watching an Indippadam, entertaining is used to describe movies that don’t make my hands reach unconsciously for the fast-forward button. OSO was fun as long it kept taking potshots at all the tripe Bollywood has been serving us since the 1970s. But for some weird reason, the movie starts taking itself too seriously in the second half and ironically, serves up most of the corny cliches it parodied before the interval.

And that brings me to the issue of Bollywood humour. Two words that have always had a very uneasy relationship with each other. While it was a pleasant surprise to note that, for a change, this movie could laugh at itself, the whole Madrasi Raja-Rascal-Quick-Gun-Murugan episode quickly proved that when it comes to laughs, nothing works better in Bollywood than the Madrasi caricature. There are 2 kinds of humour in Hindi movies.

1. Physical humour – where the fat, the thin, the bald and the funnily-moustachioed get insulted, mocked and beaten.

2. Caricature humour – where shallow caricatures of people from a specific demographic are laughed at – the 12 pm sardarji, the cunning and miserly marwari, the village simpleton and ofcourse, Bollywood’s eternal favourite – the Madrasi who just can’t stop saying Ayyo Ayyo.

So in OSO, there is this sequence where Saarukkaan speaks Tamil, which for some reason seems to consist entirely of words that sound like “Rascal” and generally mocks masala Tamil movies from the 80s. The Bollywood concept of a Madrasi was defined by Mehmood in the 60s, who hails from a city 700 km to the north – Hyderabad. Ever since, it’s been an endless sequence of ayyos, pattai-vibhuthis, carnatic music background scores whenever a Madrasi arrives on the scene. Was I offended? Ofcourse not. It was gajabuja fun.

And how can a post about OSO go without mentioning Saarukkus six-pack abs? So here is the Jalsa&Jilpa guide to getting six pack abs like kaan-baai.

1. First you need six packs. Of Haywards 5000.

2. Drink. (Peanuts optional)

3. Then get a cosmetic surgeon to remove fat, pinch and stitch in one vertical line and 3 horizontal lines across the recently grown beer flab.

4. Wait for stitches to heal, wear low-waist jeans, remove shirt, slant body 30 degrees from the vertical and take a snap.

Final verdict: Go watch the first half of this movie. Then skip the second half and watch a Vivek/Vadivel comedy VCD instead. Come back just in time for the credits. They actually got every person on the OSO production crew to walk the red carpet, right down to the spot boys, while the credits roll. Nice touch.

23 Comments

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  1. the only other movie i know of where the spot boys were given recognition at the end is ‘pyaar mein kabhi kabhi’. i thought that was very cool. also kinda funny because all of a sudden the lights come on and all these serious looking men are staring back at you.

    and im glad more people are liking om shanti om. even if it was just the first half.

    also please watch saawariya. really. u must. it will change your life.

  2. Stop to think of it, we are not that good at slapstick unless it is lifted straight (even RK lifted Chaplin in mr. 420).

    Even that masterpiece ‘Jaane bhi Do Yaaron’, I discovered much later, was a lift of ‘Ferris Bueller’s day off’.

    I think the dialog driven comedies tend to do well. For egjample most of Hrishi-da’s movies and certainly some of Kamal’s better efforts like MMKR, Pesum paddam etc.

    I’m sure your discerning audience will refute my arguments left right and centre….just wrote what came to mind.

  3. Now, come to think of it, Pesum Paddam was not really dialogue driven was it? And it was ‘inspired’ by Mel Brooks’ Silent movie anyway.

  4. I loved the swinging of the toy tiger by the tail-straight out of Adimai Penn and Annai Oru Alayam.
    Adu seri, why don’t you give a thought about what would happen if our pals like satyaraj, vijaykant, kamal try for a six pack.Why we like our heroes, beefy with lard? More of ’em to love? What’d happen if the new boys like vijay, wills filter- dhanush, surya attempt that? Will the rosary matric girls of santhome approve?

  5. I was angered by the ‘madarasi’ jibe, but then they made up for it by taking on almost everyone in the industry.

    Talking of the six pack, i’d love to see romesh powar try it and if you’re planning to tear apart saawariya, then you have been warned!

  6. Pri, Max
    Um. Saawariya, you say? I read both of your reviews, and I think Ill give that one a pass. I am told that the most intriguing character in that blue-film is the windmill bang in the middle of the indian? village. While wind based power generation equipment are moderately interesting in a ho-hum kind of way, what with their penchant for attracting the likes of Senor Quixote, I think Ill skip this one. And save myself the 75 Rs pirated DVD cost,

    Srini,
    Read the salon piece. Couldn’t find the link/feature you are talking about.

    Maami,
    Six packs (of beer) are for sissies, the clean-shaven, effeminate, steroid-pumped-up, tightpants wearing Bollywood heroes. Tamizh heroes are more manly in a gloriously unhygeinic and proudly unhealthy sort of way. Why would Vijaykant need a six-pack when he can send six packing with just a twirl of his moustache? Why would T-Rexender need six packs when he himself is a complete barrel of rum?

  7. KA: Can you kindly show kai varisai on Saanwariya urgently?

    It is the silly season and Telugu wives here are enticing hubbies saying: raavoi, saanwariyoi! It won’t take long for Tam wives to figure that it rhymes better in Tamil: variyaa, Saanwariya!

  8. Result of OSO’s humour

    The ‘Bharat’ of Bollywood, Manoj Kumar, is really upset at the way he has been made fun of in the Shah Rukh Khan starrer and is even planning to sue Farah and Shah Rukh Khan.

    CNN-IBN’s poll – Do Indians lack a sense of humour?

    Result: 64% Yes, We do lack. Remaining No.

  9. the ‘rascalaa’, ‘mind it!’ and ‘quick gun murugan’ were in fact my favourite parts in the movie… also the ‘air fight’ where saarukku and the ‘villain’ are atop huge whatever-they-were-on-wheels… hehehe… matha padi second half i almost shot myself…

    and like you have mentioned end credits were good… oh and the gujju producer and his dad.. that was funny too… 🙂

  10. ohhh! I was planning on giving this a wide berth as SRK makes me erupt in hives but now mebbe I think I shall give it a go. I sat through Jab We Met and it was okay timepass.

    I think I shall pass on the Jilpa guide to getting a sixpack to the Hubby!

  11. kudos on your write up.. entertaining, completely!

    no word about deepika.. this bangalorean definitely needs to be written about… !

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