Based in the heartlands of Uttar Pradesh, Omkara is the story of an enforcer who works for a political leader Bhaisahab (Naseeruddin Shah). Omkara (Ajay Devgan) is his chief lieutenant and has grown through the ranks primarily because of his abilities to both manage and annihilate. In walks Dolly (Kareena Kapoor Khan) into his life and things don’t remain the same ever again. Dolly is madly in love with Omkara and she goes against the wish of her father to forge the relationship. Her father gives in when he sees that his daughter has gone out of hand but not before essaying a warning to Omkara stating that the girl who went against her father won’t take long before she betrays Omkara too.
The story moves ahead and Bhaisahab wins a parliamentary seat. So he moves ahead with the scheme of things leaving his responsibilities to Omkara who then has to choose the next Bahubali to take over his own position. Omkara chooses an educated Kesu (Viveik Oberoi) over the rustic and brutal Langda Tyagi (Saif Ali Khan) as he feels that with the educated Kesu leading the youth he will be able to earn greater political mileage. This decision doesn’t go well with Langda who starts plotting against Kesu and Omkara as he sees this as his only legitimate way of extracting revenge. What follows is a deadly game which culminates in a tragedy of epic proportions for Omkara.
Vishal Bharadwaj’s second Shakespearean adaptation is just as effective as his first. To take a play like Othello and to set it up in the rural Uttar Pradesh takes a stroke of genius which Bharadwaj shows in every frame of the film. The story catches the right mood and setting without losing any grounds on its subject matter. Each of the characters from the story is replicated here with enough time and attention to details ensuring that each of the characters is done justice. Apart from being a Shakespearean tragedy, Omkara also works out as a pure gangster drama much in the line of the Hindi film industry. It contains the songs and dances as is customary for any Indian film but more importantly, the music and the songs are interwoven in the narrative to ensure that the story is not stalled when the music or the dance unfolds.
The hauntingly good musical score by Bharadwaj himself does help the cause quite a bit. The lyrics of the songs are also well thought after which conveys the right emotions thus automatically elevating their appeal. The performances by the ensemble cast are something to revel at. While Ajay Devgan leads from the front with his stoic take on the character of Othello who is torn between the love for Dolly and his misplaced trust on Langda. While his heart tells him to believe Dolly, his mind is led to dark places by a scheming Langda. The conflicts of the character are painstakingly brought out by a resilient Ajay Devgan. But one has to agree that his thunder is somewhat overshadowed by a conniving Langda Tyagi played by Saif in what could be his career best act.
Kareena Kapoor does well in the scenes that demand her acting skills while Viveik Oberoi as Kesu is pitch perfect. Konkana Sen Sharma chips in with a cameo which will grab attention. Deepak Dobriyal as Langda’s partner in crime and also the instigator is wonderful. His dialogs with Saif’s Langda Tyagi gives us an insight into the minds of the antagonists and what are their reasons for plotting against Omkara. Bipasha Basu sizzles as Billo Chaman Bahar. She has two item numbers in the film which are both going to fuel your imaginations without being even a tad bit vulgar.
Overall, Omkara is satisfying both in terms of quality, content and above all entertainment. It is by far the most entertaining of the three Shakespearean films that Bharadwaj has made. It is also one with the most memorable characters and hard hitting dialogs. It is one of those Hindi films which can be enjoyed for varied reasons and can be watched again and again for the same reasons.