Paresh Rawal’s Kanji Lalji Mehta is the man every society needs at this juncture of time. Director Umesh Shukla’s adaptation of the 2001 Australian comedy ‘The Man Who Sued God’ and the Gujarati play ‘Kanji Virudh Kanji’ by Bhavesh Mandalia is done beautifully. The film raises a lot of pertinent questions that the world in general, and our country in particular is seeking answers to at this point in time, and ‘OMG Oh My God!’ manages to put them across in a carefully crafted manner.
Kanji Lalji Mehta (Paresh Rawal) is a man for whom money and his business are the absolute gods. A hardcore atheist, Kanji Bhai doesn’t leave any stone unturned in making money whichever way he is able to. The shrewd businessman owns a shop which – ironically – sells idols of gods and goddesses and other such festival paraphernalia. On a funereal trip to Haridwar, organised by Kanji’s neighbour to appease the departed soul of his mother, Kanji makes sure he turns the trip into a profitable venture- as much as his mercenary abilities would allow. Once back in Mumbai, when a Janmashtami celebration turns awry, thanks to Kanji, the wrath of God is manifested through an earthquake – which leaves Kanji with neither bread nor butter. In a fit of rage, the man sues God.
Enter the modern, Vardenchi Chopper-riding, flute-playing, fancy-glasses-wearing, suited-booted Krishna Vasudev Yadav. Aka Lord Krishna. Akshay Kumar’s jeans-clad avatar of Vishnu is highly commendable, and is a breath of fresh air after his pink-pants-clad Rowdy Rathore. Akshay Kumar, yet again, proves his mettle as an actor who can do wonders – given the story and his character don’t make him dance to loud unbearable numbers or romance women just for the heck of it – or encounter ridiculous aliens and make people laugh half-heartedly.
‘OMG Oh My God!’ raises many such questions which might be termed blasphemous by various godmen of the day. Director Umesh Shukla carefully executes this tightrope walk using comedy as his vehicle, beneath which lies the bottomless abyss of sacrilege and irreverence – one misbalanced step, and down goes the endeavour. Thankfully, none of that happens.
Paresh Rawal manages to balance the act perfectly, and like a magician, juggles the premises of logic and religions – according to his convenience, and how! The film, despite being rooted in surrealism and mythology, makes genuine efforts to establish that one universal truth that has been iterated and reiterated for centuries – religion is a man-made creation, and nothing good has ever come out of it. Using Kanji Lalji Mehta as his mouthpiece, Umesh Shukla – in one clean, fell swoop – puts his finger on the root cause of all problems. Shukla makes Mithun Chakraborty’s voice speak it out – “People are not god-loving, they are god-fearing.”
Govind Namdeo, Mithun Chakraborty and Poonam Jhawer as the various god-people essay their roles admirably. Mithun’s acting skills have been proved time and again, and the film industry is witness to the fact. In this film too, the veteran is impeccable as the scheming, plotting godman. Govind Namdeo plays his role effortlessly, and leaves people at times laughing, at times seething with anger, with his antics. Om Puri as the lawyer Hanif Qureshi is flawless, as always. His role might have been reduced to meting out lessons in law to Kanji, but the thespian performs it with remarkable calibre.
Prabhu Deva and Sonakshi Sinha’s special number ‘Go Govinda’, which has been making splashes in generous doses in the electronic media, is likeable and will henceforth be the Janmashtami-anthem of the country, I daresay. Kailash Kher’s rustic-meets-soulful voice in ‘Dhoondta hai’ is an extremely melodious track. Himesh Reshammiya’s music, for a change, doesn’t sound monotonous.
To wrap up, ‘OMG Oh My God!’ is a film that is undoubtedly one that rests solely on the shoulders of Paresh Rawal, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the man takes away the award for the ‘Best Male Debut’ this year. Akshay Kumar, as the 21st-century Krishna, offers a much-welcome break to his audience. The ‘Divine Comedy’ doesn’t bore. Watch the film for a lot of things – Paresh Rawal being the top of the list!