Tag Archives: OMG Oh My God

Streaming Video News: May 1, 2017

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with a ton of new additions to the catalog. More than thirty titles were added today, some for the first time (like Tanu Weds Manu) and some after a prolonged absence (like Kahaani). In addition to the Bengali film Abby Sen, the TV show Ramayan, and the documentaries Fire in the Blood, Mostly Sunny, and Saeed Mirza: The Leftist Sufi, the following Hindi movies are now available for streaming:

For everything else new on Netflix (Bollywood or not), check Instant Watcher.

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The Crisis of Faith in A Flying Jatt

There are a lot of interesting moral lessons under the glossy, colorful surface of A Flying Jatt. One aspect that has stuck with me since watching the fun superhero movie is how the film portrays the main character’s struggle with his religious faith.

The religiosity of characters is underplayed in Hollywood films in general, but it’s especially absent from the backstories of Hollywood superheroes. Their powers come from science (Spider-man) or space (Superman) or magic (Doctor Strange). Rarely are their powers divine in origin, with perhaps the exception of Thor.

In contrast, all of India’s celluloid superheroes — few as they are — have ties to the divine (I confess, I don’t remember Drona‘s origin story). Krrish‘s powers came from an alien, but the hero’s name is a derivation of Krishna. The villain in Ra.One is a creation of science (as is the hero, G.One), but his name is a play on the demon Ravana. Their stories are explicitly related to Hinduism.

A Flying Jatt is even more overtly religious than the Krrish films or Ra.One in that the hero’s powers are divine in origin. When threatened by an evil industrialist (played by Kay Kay Menon, also the villain in Drona) who wants to tear down a tree that bears a Sikh Khanda symbol, Aman (Tiger Shroff) prays to the tree for help. In a subsequent fight with the industrialist’s goon (played by Nathan Jones), Aman is slammed against the tree. A light shines, and the Khanda symbol is branded onto Aman’s flesh. Then lightning strikes, imbuing Aman with superpowers and launching his foe far enough away to give Aman time to master his new abilities before a climactic showdown.

What’s significant about Aman’s story arc is that, before the miracle at the tree, Aman doesn’t identify as religious (to the chagrin of his pious mother). He keeps his hair short and his face shaved, and he refuses to wear a turban. He eschews all the outward signs of his family’s Sikh faith.

When the industrialist first comes calling, the families who live in Aman’s neighborhood head to the tree to pray. Fearful Aman would rather sell the land — tree and all — to avoid a fight. He only prays at the tree as a last resort, when he’s out of ideas as to how to protect himself and his mother.

Even when Aman finally understands what has happened to him, he still hesitates to embrace his faith. His mother begs him to wear the turban that belonged to his father, himself a brave, pious man. Aman refuses, saying that he will only wear it when he feels that he can do so whole-heartedly. His skills and resolve are tested along with his faith, and only before the final battle does he choose to wear his father’s turban and the beginnings of a beard.

Aman’s doubt is important because rarely do we see any Hindi film characters at all questioning their belief in the divine. Religion is a part of virtually every Hindi film, especially since the lines separating culture and religion in India are blurry to non-existent. A character’s faith gives him context, defining his relationships to other characters and his place in the community. Thus, it’s a foregone conclusion that most characters in Hindi films are religious.

In a terrific article about Indian superheroes, Sankhayan Ghosh paraphrases mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik, who believes that “there is no place for angst” in the Indian idea of heroism. To have a Bollywood character with superpowers doubt not only himself but his belief in God is a big deal.

The thing about faith in the divine is that it requires belief in the absence of physical proof (unless you are Paresh Rawal’s character in OMG: Oh My God, who meets God in person). But even with the physical proof of a Khanda branded on his back and an array of superpowers at his disposal, Aman still hesitates. Like everyone else, his belief has to generate from within.

It’s a thoughtful message, and it relates to another theme in A Flying Jatt. Aman’s brother (played by Gaurav Pandey) tells Aman that the real heroes are those who fight injustice without the aid of superpowers. Aman’s crisis of faith extends that idea further, letting the audience know that it’s okay for normal people to have their doubts about God. If a guy who has been literally touched by the divine can be unsure, how much harder must it be for those with no concrete proof?

Too often, Bollywood heroes are shown as being infallible and above moral judgment. Ajay Devgn’s Bajirao Singham is allowed to break the rules of a democracy because he’s supposedly an instrument of divine justice — a mortal man who can fix all of society’s problems in whatever way he sees fit, no matter the collateral damage (this was especially a problem in Singham Returns). A Flying Jatt‘s Aman isn’t like that. He’s a protector, not an executioner. It’s refreshing to see a relatable Bollywood hero who appeals to the better angels of our nature rather than our base thirst for vengeance.

Streaming Video News: August 22, 2013

The high-concept comedy OMG Oh My God is now available for streaming on Netflix. This surprisingly funny movie from 2012 stars Paresh Rawal as a man who takes God to court. I recommend it.

On Friday, August 23, Bajatey Raho becomes available for streaming on Eros Now. While I wasn’t crazy about the movie, this is the kind of smaller, less star-driven fare I’d like to see more of on Eros Now. Also, I appreciate the speed with which they made the movie available for streaming. It released in theaters on July 26.

Opening November 2: Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana and Ata Pata Laapata

Two new Hindi movies are ready to open in the Chicago area on November 2, 2012. The comedy Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana gets the wider release of the two films:

LSTCK debuts on Friday at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 20 min. All three theaters will also carry Student of the Year for a third week.

The other new comedy opening up this weekend is the directorial debut of character actor Rajpal Yadav: Ata Pata Laapata.

Ata Pata Laapata opens on Friday at the Golf Glen 5 and South Barrington 30. It has a runtime of 2 hrs. 30 min. Both theaters are also holding over Chakravyuh for a second week. Update: The Cantera added Ata Pata Laapata to its lineup this weekend.

The South Barrington 30 is giving a fifth and sixth week, respectively, to English Vinglish and OMG Oh My God.

Other Indian movies playing at the Golf Glen 5 this weekend include Banking Hours 10 to 4 (Malayalam) and Dhenikaina Ready (Telugu).

Opening October 26: Ajab Gazabb Love

Two days after the opening of Chakravyuh, the Hindi romantic comedy Ajab Gazabb Love hits Chicago area theaters.

Ajab Gazabb Love opens on Friday, October 26, 2012, at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles and AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington. It has a listed runtime of 1 hr. 59 min.

Chakravyuh continues the run it began on Wednesday at both of the above theaters, as well as the AMC River East 21 in Chicago and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. Its runtime is listed as 2 hrs. 32 min.

After collecting $326,508 in its opening weekend in the U.S., Student of the Year gets a second week at all four of the theaters mentioned above. English Vinglish — with U.S. earnings of $1,670,773 so far — gets a fourth week at the Cantera 17 and South Barrington 30, which is also holding over OMG Oh My God for a fifth week.

Last weekend’s other new release, Delhi Safari, failed to earn a second week in theaters. After six weeks, Barfi! finally vacates area screens, with total U.S. earnings standing at $2,799,445.

Other Indian movies playing at the Golf Glen 5 this weekend include Trivandrum Lodge (Malayalam) and the Telugu films Cameraman Ganga Tho Rambabu and Dhenikaina Ready.

Opening October 19: Student of the Year and Delhi Safari

Looks like my fears of a prolonged Bollywood drought were unfounded. Two new Hindi films open in Chicago area theaters on October 19, 2012. Getting the wider release of the two is director Karan Johar’s Student of the Year.

SOTY opens in five area theaters on Friday: AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Regal Gardens Stadium 1-6 in Skokie, Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 30 min.

Also making its debut is the animated film Delhi Safari. Note that the version releasing this weekend is in Hindi, voiced by Indian actors like Akshaye Khanna and Boman Irani. Fandango‘s capsule description of the movie includes the information for the English-language version of the film releasing on December 7, featuring the voices of Jane Lynch and Cary Elwes.

Delhi Safari opens on Friday at the Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30, and Cantera 17. It has a runtime of 1 hr. 50 min. If you need added incentive to see the film, take a picture of your Delhi Safari ticket stub and you can win a $50 Toys R’ Us gift card.

The charming English Vinglish continues to perform well at the box office, having earned $1,405,758 in its first two weeks in U.S. theaters. It carries over for a third week at the Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30, and Cantera 17.

The South Barrington 30 also holds over OMG Oh My God for a fourth week and Barfi! for a sixth, with is total U.S. earnings standing at $2,779,172.

Other Indian movies playing at the Golf Glen 5 this weekend include Cameraman Ganga Tho Rambabu (Telugu), Damarukam (Telugu), Maattrraan (Tamil), and Trivandrum Lodge (Malayalam).

The subtitled trailer for Vishal Bhardwaj’s Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola is out. The film — which stars Imran Khan and my girl crush, Anushka Sharma — releases theatrically on January 11.

In Theaters October 12, 2012

Update: The Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles finally posted its weekend schedule, and the theater will carry the new Hindi films Aiyyaa and Bhoot Returns. (Note: I don’t live anywhere near this theater, so I won’t be reviewing either of these movies, unfortunately.) The Golf Glen 5 is also carrying English Vinglish and OMG, as well as the Malayalam movies Molly Aunty Rocks! and Puthiya Theerangal, Maattrraan (Tamil) and its Telugu version, Brothers.

The steady stream of Bollywood movies flowing into Chicagoland has finally dried up. There are no new Hindi movies opening in Chicago area theaters on Friday, October 12, 2012. I’m especially disappointed that I won’t get to see Rani Mukerji’s Aiyyaa, but Ram Gopal Varma’s Bhoot Returns, Chittagong, and Makkhi seemed like potential candidates for screenspace as well.

Still, a few Bollywood options remain in local theaters. After posting impressive first-weekend earnings of $745,414 in the U.S., English Vinglish carries over at the AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. Both theaters are also holding over OMG Oh My God for a third week, while the South Barrington 30 gives a fifth week to Barfi!, which has earned $2,692,161 in the U.S. so far.

Starting on Friday, the South Barrington 30 will also carry the Punjabi movie Saadi Wakhri Hai Shaan.

Opening October 5: English Vinglish

The new Bollywood film opening in Chicago area theaters on October 5, 2012 — English Vinglish — marks the return of superstar actress Sridevi after a fourteen-year absence from the big screen. The film also has the worst theatrical trailer I’ve ever seen:

This alternate trailer — which never aired at my local cinema — is more substantive:

English Vinglish opens on Friday at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 10 min.

Of last weekend’s two new Hindi releases, OMG Oh My God carries over at all three of the above theaters, while Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal is deservedly booted from all local theaters except the South Barrington 30. The South Barrington 30 is also the only theater holding over Heroine, which has earned $560,285 in its first two weeks in U.S. theaters.

Barfi!, meanwhile, continues to perform phenomenally well at the box office, having earned $2,462,008 in three weeks in the U.S. It gets a fourth week at the South Barrington 30, Cantera 17, AMC River East 21 in Chicago, and Regal Gardens Stadium 1-6 in Skokie.

Other Indian movies showing at the Golf Glen 5 this weekend include Puthiya Theerangal (Malayalam), Rebel (Telugu), and Thaandavam (Tamil).

Movie Review: OMG Oh My God (2012)

3 Stars (out of 4)

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Bollywood isn’t generally known for producing “high-concept” movies: films whose plots can be boiled down to a single, easy-to-understand sentence. The fertility comedy Vicky Donor comes close, as do horror films like Raaz 3, but the standard Bollywood tale-of-two-halves formula doesn’t usually lend itself to such simplicity.

OMG Oh My God is different. Here’s the plot: a disgruntled merchant sues God for damaging his shop. Simple, catchy, and easy to understand. That narrowness of focus allows OMG to tell an amusing story that’s accessible to everyone.

Kanji (Paresh Rawal) is a cynical shopkeeper who overcharges gullible devotees for the chintzy religious statues he sells in his shop. Kanji interrupts a religious festival, angering Siddeshwar Maharaj (Govind Namdeo), a short-tempered holy man who calls upon God to punish Kanji. An earthquake strikes, leaving everything in town untouched except for Kanji’s shop.

When the insurance company won’t pay for the damages to Kanji’s decimated shop under the “Acts of God” clause in his contract, Kanji sues God for compensation. If the divine being won’t show up in court himself, Kanji is happy to recoup his money from the temples his wife has donated to over the years. The religious establishment fights back, and Kanji gets help from an unlikely source: God himself, in the form of a handsome guy named Krishna (Akshay Kumar).

This sounds like the kind of film Jim Carrey might have starred in fifteen years ago (the courtroom setting brings Liar Liar to mind). That’s not a knock on OMG, but a compliment. The film has a concept that would be easy to make in any country, featuring representatives from any religions.

OMG moves along at a good clip and features a lot of strong performances. There are a couple of dance numbers, but they don’t slow down proceedings. Paresh Rawal is the perfect choice for Kanji. In Rawal’s hands, Kanji comes across as cynical and practical, but not mean. Kumar adds lightness and optimism to compliment Kanji’s realism.

If there’s any flaw to OMG, it’s that it gives away the conclusion in a director’s note that precedes the film. In an effort to thwart complaints from religious groups, the note states that the film is about a “non-believer who becomes a believer.” It’s the predictable conclusion to the film, but I didn’t appreciate the spoiler.

The circumstances of Kanji’s conversion are unsatisfying. If everyone experienced the kind of miracle Kanji does — with God on hand to claim responsibility — there would be no atheists. In fact, prior to his conversion, Kanji lays out a pretty good case for a world with no God.

The note at the beginning is ultimately unnecessary, as there seems to be little in the film that could be construed as disrespectful toward any religion. OMG takes shots at the idea of religion-for-profit and the lavish lifestyles of some church leaders. It’s akin to criticizing the wealthy televangelists of the 1980s. Corrupt religious hierarchy is the target, not those practicing the religion.

Kanji uses his public forum to suggest a more virtuous path for worship. Money spent on tithing would be better given as charity. The greatest expression of faith, he believes, is in the way we care for our fellow humans, seeing the essence of the divine in all people. There’s nothing offensive about a plea for a more compassionate world.

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Opening August 24: Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi

It’s an exciting weekend for Boman Irani fans like myself. The romantic comedy Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi opens in three Chicago area theaters on August 24, 2012. (Question for Hindi speakers: what does the title translate to in English? Update: The English subtitled lyrics for the title track are translated as “Shirin-Farhad Made It.”)

SFKTNP opens on Friday at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a runtime of 1 hr. 52 min. You can read my review here.

After earning an impressive $1,484,404 in its first five days in U.S. theaters, Ek Tha Tiger carries over for a second week at all of the above theaters and the Regal Gardens Stadium 1-6 in Skokie.

Another cool opportunity for Chicago area Hindi film fans this weekend is the chance to participate in a Q&A with the director of Patang, Prashant Bhargava. Mr. Bhargava is hosting several question and answer sessions following showings of Patang at Facets Cinematheque in Chicago.

Other Indian movies playing at the Golf Glen 5 this weekend include Julayi (Telugu), Mr. Marumakan (Malayalam), and Sudigadu (Telugu).

One recently released trailer of note is for the comedy OMG Oh My God, which opens September 28: