Om Jai Jagadish Hindi Movie

Feature Film | 2002
Jul 11, 2002 By Subhash Jha

As Anupam Kher's mellow drama unfolds over three hours, a villain pompously declares that happy forever-together families are only to be found in films, not in real life.

Sure enough, Kher's directorial debut in Om Jai Jagdish is as giddying and utopian as family sagas in films go.

Three brothers Om (Anil Kapoor), Jai (Fardeen Khan) and Jagdish (Abhishek Bachchan), under the supervision of an ever-patient mother (Waheeda Rehman), try to transcend the inherent limitations of such families, but only superficially.

To his credit Kher checks the narrative from lapsing into excessive melodrama. But a film cannot thrive on that alone.

In his determination to be mellow, rather than melodramatic, Kher denudes the narrative of all vigour and vitality.

The audience might pine for high drama when world of the spunky mother Saraswati and her idealistic elder son Om begins to come apart.

Middle son Jai's worldly-wise wife (Urmila Matondkar) weans him away from home.

Thereafter the drama of destiny takes over the narrative. Jai leaves home to return to Atlanta to manufacture a car and quarrel with his wife.

Youngest brother Jagdish is caught hacking on the computer. He leaves home to pursue his dreams in another city. In another twist of fate, a villainous colleague (Parmeet Sethi) in Om's office and his fiancee (Achint Kaur) connive to take over the family's home and happiness.

Tragically, when Kher gets down to making up for lost time, the drama is too smudged and half-hearted to bring fidgety viewers back to their seats.

The climax where the three estranged brothers come together to save their home from being auctioned is, however, well orchestrated, with Johnny Lal's camera catching the flurried anxiety of the splintered family in mid-shots rather than the predictably sweaty close-ups.

Kher and his writer Rahul Nanda are full of ennobling ideas.

A whole spectrum of cultural contemplations are brought into play -- from traditional joint-family values to the rapidly growing relevance of computer technology, to the evil of remixed songs that have swamped the music industry and brain drain as young, ambitious Indians make a permanent home abroad.

Being his first film, one understands Kher's eagerness to suffuse drama with ideas on culture and society. But these don't fit into the family drama format. And one ends up looking at several stories told all at once.

Some of the characters, though interesting, are clearly redundant. Mahima Chowdhary and newcomer Tara Sharma, who play Anil Kapoor's wife and Abhishek Bachchan's girlfriend respectively, have no direct bearing on the main conflict.

Then there's Fardeen's yankee-accented American friend. He's an interesting shadowy character, but what's he meant to signify?

Raj Khosla's trendsetting family drama Do Raaste is scriptwriter Rahul Nanda's primary source of inspiration. There's a also a large chunk of Manoj Kumar's Purab Aur Paschim, with Raju Kher and Lilette Dubey playing the expatriate Indians.

Waheeda Rehman's comeback, though welcome, is a little disappointing. While she's wonderful in her emotional moments, she seems ill at ease in the lighter scenes.

Anil Kapoor drips nobility as the all-giving elder brother. As the man torn between his wife and family, Fardeen portrays the tense moments well. As the bratty Jagdish, Abhishek displays his skills in diffident close-ups. His dancing, no thanks to Ahmed Khan's vapid choreography, is an eyesore.

Among the ladies, only Urmila Matondkar makes a strong impact. In a role that could easily have careened into playing a vamp she excels in walking the tightrope.

Apoorva Agnihotri's trademark jump cut editing that's so effective in thrillers is out of place in this linear family drama. Anu Malik's music is listless. Fortunately Kher makes sparing use of it.

Subhash Jha