Om (1995) – Movie Review | Upendra | Crazy Kannada Crime Romance

Servus Freunde, my name is Jimmy Cage…
Ah yes… sure… I get it. Here! This one’s for you Buddymeister.
Jimmy… what…
Oh wow… thank you Buddymeister…
You are welcome…
Servus Freunde, my name is Jimmy Cage.
And I’m Deniz the Buddymeister. And today
is a special day.
Oh yes, today’s the birthday of the one,
the only Upendra.
Exactly. So we thought it’s a good idea
to review another one of his films.
He acted in 54 films, wrote 16 films, but
directed only 10. I already reviewed UPENDRA
from 1999 and together we did A, which came
out one year before that. Now it’s really
not easy to get ahold of the man’s movies,
but luckily we found a copy of OM – actually
one of his greatest successes in terms of
box-office and re-releases. OM was re-released
more than 550 times.
A formidable achievement. OM was released
in 1995. It’s a Kannada crime drama starring
Shiva Rajkumar and Prema in the leading roles.
Shiva Rajkumar plays Satya, the son of a priest
and a quiet and modest student who turns into
a violent hacking and slaying gangster at
the behest of his love interest Madhuri. But
that same Madhuri tries to transform him back
into a

civilized person later. I guess you
have to see OM to really understand the twists
and turns that shape this love story.
It’s actually not that easy to follow the
back and forth between Satya and Madhuri,
because the way Upendra chose to tell the
story, the way he arranged it, makes it quite
a complicated mess. Now that’s most likely
done on purpose, because Upendra loves to
tell his stories in a convoluted and artistically
minded way, but it takes some time to see
through this web of obsession.
The love story is also embedded in a larger
story about Bangalore’s criminal underworld,
which contributes to this slightly messy narrative.
We actually start things off with the character
Shashi, a journalist who investigates underworld
dons and wants to find out why people become
But we actually actually start things off
with a gritty, raw and violent sequence that
provides an insight into the criminal underworld
as we follow rivaling gangs that steal oil,
hunt each other down and fire all over the
place, very reminiscent of Anurag Kashyap’s
style, which of course wasn’t existent at
that time.
Soon after that we get to know the lovely
Madhuri and this CRAZY maniac Satya who‘s
so obsessed with her that he … well for
one he makes sure that no other guy gets near
her – his goons beat everybody up, which
makes for a few really funny scenes – but
he also wants her to wear saris instead of
skirts, he burns her clothes, he strong-arms
her for loving him … he’s the villain
of this story, or isn’t he Jimmy?!
Of course he’s a villain, but Upendra tries
to put it in a different light. And he does
so by giving us an explanation for why Satya
became like this.
And that‘s what‘s interesting about this
movie and something that took a while for
me to process. Upendra establishes this whole
„how did these dons become gangsters“-plot
in a way that makes us think of the „generic“
reasons like „they probably were poor, maybe
they needed money, they broke bad because
they got to know the wrong people, etc.“,
and then we learn how Satya became a criminal
and that story kind of turns every one of
these generic reasons on its head. So in a
way it‘s a pretty sophisticated narrative.
That‘s interesting, I haven‘t thought
about it that way, but it makes total sense
and it‘s typical for Upendra to put a certain
spin on things. And in this case it is how
love, obsession and incomprehension can change
somebody. This is going to be rather spoiler-heavy
review, so if you haven’t seen OM yet you
should probably do that first, although I
would say that the movie still works pretty
well if you know about its inner workings,
it’s no THE SIXTH SENSE or anything.
And it‘s also not as eccentric or wacky
as Upendra‘s later films, I guess.
Absolutely. It feels a little bit like he‘s
still trying to find his voice, but there
definitely is some „weirdly great“ stuff
in there like over-the-top slow-motion, strange
sounds and interesting camera angles. But
let me pick up on what I said about love,
obsession and incomprehension. After Satya
is established as this lunatic villain – which
actually got a little bit repetitive with
time – we learn that Madhuri kind of „created“
Yeah, it‘s a great little twist and also
an interesting choice. It immediately puts
Satya in another light. But Upendra goes even
one step further, he actually made me really
dislike Madhuri, the person that I pitied
so much just a few minutes earlier. Well,
and then he twists the facts again by giving
us reasons for her actions.
Like I said, it‘s quite convoluted. There
are flashbacks, then there‘s a short flashback
inside a flashback and of course the tone
of the movie changes quickly. It‘s not easy
to follow all this, but it‘s also not like
you‘re completely lost. And I‘m glad that
the whole gangster-plot gets picked up again
towards to end, for a minute there I was afraid
that it wouldn‘t.
Yeah, I mean you gotta applaud Upendra‘s
craziness. To tell such a story in this way,
it‘s pretty striking. And apparently he
worked with real-life gangsters, I guess that
it‘s the ones that Shashi is talking to.
Probably. OM put this kind of genre – this
criminal underworld gangster drama – on
the map, it‘s not like these movies were
common back then. It‘s quite violent and
raw and … hell, you‘re almost losing track
of all the people who are beating and killing
each other, it can be pretty excessive.
OM can be too much, to be honest. And it‘s
definitely too long with its 150 minutes.
And you already mentioned that it has some
repetitive periods – it tends to be quite
OM crams a lot of things in its two and a
half hours, there‘s no doubt about that,
but it can be dreary, because things progress
so slowly sometimes, it‘s like treading
water. All this stuff with the different perspectives
and perceptions, how Madhuri believes in something
that turns out to be wrong, how Satya does
the same, and on top of that all the gangster
quarrels, it‘s messy.
It really is, but somehow this is also what
makes OM so much fun and what makes it so
fascinating. I have to say – since I watched
it, it kind of grew on me. And of course there‘s
one song that I can‘t get out of my head.
Wanna guess which one?
Coma Coma Coma…
What an awesome song, what a catchy tune,
great work by composer Hamsalekha. It almost
immediately burnt itself in my brain and I‘ve
been singing it day in day out since then.
It‘s the highlight of OM, the same is true
for the sequence in which it‘s used.
That‘s where Satya is caught off-guard by
Madhuri and he falls into this love coma.
Shiva Rajkumar must‘ve had a lot of fun
as Satya, he does a good job as this peace-loving
man turned demented criminal.
Yeah. I wanted to add something regarding
the flashback. I think it is also the best
part of the film, because I was invested the
most, I felt like something is on the line,
like we‘re learning something profound about
these characters. That‘s also the case later
on, but it just doesn‘t feel that vital
anymore because things are repeating itself.
It‘s a good point, the story just wears
itself out towards the end. It‘s not like
you lose interest, but you‘re … exhausted.
But you also can‘t help it but give Upendra
the benefit of the doubt, I mean that ending
with the gangsters who renounce violence and
crime, it is kind of stupid, but it also shows
that he wears his heart on his sleeve and
that he‘s really trying to get a message
across here. And more than once I thought
I was out of the movie …
.. but he pulled you back in!
Exactly. So what would we say in German about OM?
I give OM 7 out of 10, it’s more like 6.7,
but I don’t do that.
For me it’s also 7 out of 10, it’s more like
6.9, but I don’t do that either.
Have you ever heard of the conch? Or the conch
shell horn?
It‘s a natural trumpet made out of a snail
shell. It‘s an inherent part of Hindu rituals
and in Indian mythology its sound, which resembles
the sound-syllable „Om“, is connected
to the creation of the world.
Very interesting, thanks Buddy. So what are
YOUR thougths about OM? Leave a comment and
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