'Omkara' is here to stay

Aug 1, 2006 Arpana

New Delhi, Aug 2 (IANS) Vishal Bharadwaj's "Omkara", set in the wild hinterlands of Uttar Pradesh and laced with generous doses of the native lingo, has survived scepticism and mixed reviews from the media and is actually thriving at the box office.

The film, which released Friday, has grossed a total Rs.14.2 million in the PVR multiplexes across the capital.

"When we released 'Maqbool', it earned only Rs.4.2 million, but 'Omkara' has already grossed Rs.14.2 million in only four days. People are appreciating the film despite the mixed reviews," said PVR vice president Saurabh Varma.

Bharadwaj's "Omkara", an adaptation of Shakespeare's "Othello", defies the set rules of commercial cinema - it is a serious film about real life people and shows how the human psyche is overshadowed by jealousy and suspicion, an integral part of Shakespearean drama.

To maintain the authenticity, dialogues are sprinkled with expletives. Those who belong to the cow-belt area are relating to it.

Distributors say that like "Satya", which had lured audiences in Mumbai with its indigenous Mumbaiya flavour, "Omkara" has found a niche audience in the northern belt of the country.

"We had expected 'Omkara' to do reasonably well in Delhi and outstandingly well in Uttar Pradesh. But it has worked the other way around. The film is doing outstandingly well in the capital. In fact, this is predominantly a north (India) based film but it is doing satisfactory business in West Bengal also," said Sanjay Mehta, who has the distribution rights in Uttar Pradesh.

Power-packed performances by Ajay Devgan, Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Konkona SenSharma, Viveik Oberoi and Naseeruddin Shah are a treat for audiences looking for quality entertainment.

Varma of PVR cinemas says that despite three releases lined up this Friday, "Omkara" is here to stay for a while.

"Some of the dialogues in the film are very popular among the college kids. The Shakespeare magic is working and the film is not going anywhere for another two weeks," said Varma.

The film is also doing well in Bihar. Director Prakash Jha, who has the distribution rights for "Omkara" in the state said: "'Omkara' is doing very well in Bihar. I am in Jamshedpur right now and saw the film in Ranchi last night."

According to sources, Bharadwaj is currently touring Uttar Pradesh to see the response of the local public to his film.

The three strong points of the film are its music, star cast and a good publicity campaign. Put together, they definitely seem to be paying rich dividends.

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