Both of this week’s ‘heritage’ Bollywood flicks, Gadar 2 and OMG 2, have a lot of baggage. The first Oh My God! (2012), with Paresh Rawal in the lead, became an unexpected hit while the previous Gadar (2001) was a huge hit. Due to their subject matter, both films generated a lot of discussion. But the success of these two movies also serves as a reminder of a time when moviegoers were less readily offended or unduly sensitive toward particular characters or storylines, and were more receptive to movie plots and characters. Undoubtedly, times have changed. Both Gadar 2 and OMG 2’s producers were advised by the censor board to cut out scenes that might excite viewers or harm their feelings. I would that both movies would be evaluated based on their content, as were their predecessors, and not for “hurting sentiments.”
After that, I want to discuss a fascinating remark on Oh My God (2012). It has the distinction of being the only Bollywood “big star” portrayal of God in a commercially successful film. Yes, in Bollywood this is unusual.
Let me share with you some examples of films that had prominent Bollywood actors in the role of God but were flatly rejected, typically for being trashy movies but occasionally because the material was judged insulting. Let’s start with the smash hit movie Oh My God. Superstar Akshay Kumar plays Lord Krishna, who travels to Earth in this humorous movie to see the guy (Paresh Rawal) who brought a lawsuit against God. Oddly, the Censor Board made no protests when Akshay’s portrayal of Lord Krishna encouraged the atheist character to challenge the godmen and their organized form of religion. There was a chance that this movie would cause considerable response from political or religious organizations, but it did not. The movie became a surprise hit.
With OMG 2, the reaction started as soon as the first poster was released. According to reports, Akshay Kumar is portraying Lord Shiva in the movie, which reportedly examines the topic of sex education. On social media, there is a broad campaign against the movie that claims it is an attempt to defame the faith. The Censor Board has made numerous deletions and alterations in an effort to be extremely cautious. The next days will show whether the movie will be well received by viewers like its predecessor or rejected like earlier occasions where famous actors played divine characters.
Amitabh Bachchan, who is frequently referred to as the God of the Hindi cinema industry, played gods in not one, but three different movies. In God Tussi Great Ho (2008), a pitiful parody of the Hollywood smash Bruce Almighty (2003), Bachchan played the part of a God giving advice to the unappreciative Salman Khan while donning a spotless white suit. Neither Salman nor Bachchan want to think about that movie. Lord Indra, the God of Rains, was portrayed by Amitabh Bachchan in the 2002 film Agni Varsha: The Fire and The Rain. The costly movie, which was adapted from a well-known play by Girish Karnad, had no attention. In actuality, the third movie came before these two duds. Amitabh Bachchan’s well-known baritone served as the Heavenly Voice/God’s voice guiding the ghost portrayed by Salman Khan in the Salman Khan film Hello Brother. Therefore, Bachchan never saw success at the box office while playing God.
In the 2008 remake of Mary Poppins by Yash Raj Films, Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic, legendary actor Rishi Kapoor played the God while dressed in clean white suits (yep, this was the same year Amitabh Bachchan appeared in God Tussi Great Ho while wearing similar attire). The movie was a failure despite having a successful lead cast that included Saif Ali Khan, Rani Mukerji, and Ameesha Patel singing to the hit song Lazy Lamhe in a yellow bikini. In the forgettable Vaah! Life Ho To Aisi directed by Mahesh Manjrekar, Sanjay Dutt as Yamraj, the Hindu God of Death. As a tech-savvy Yamraj sporting fashionable outfits and glasses, Dutt made a valiant effort to save this completely uninteresting movie. Despite the appeal of a young Shahid Kapoor, the movie failed.
An updated version of the Ramayana was touted in the contentious 1987 film Kalyug Aur Ramayan. Manoj “Bharat” Kumar portrayed Pawan Putra, a modernized version of Lord Hanuman dressed in an ill-fitting white suit (yep, another white suit!). Numerous Hindu organizations stirred up controversy before the film’s premiere regarding the dialogue, music, and dances as well as the title (Kalyug Ki Ramayan). At first, the Censor Board refused to approve the movie. In response to pressure, Manoj Kumar altered the film’s name to Kalyug Aur Ramayan and cut numerous dialogues. Despite this, it was a complete failure. The ridiculous movie is nevertheless included on numerous “so bad it’s good” lists, joining Manoj Kumar’s other masterpiece Clerk.
Not only did viewers reject male actors who played gods in Hindi films; Katrina Kaif also played God in the 2008 film Hello. One Night at the Call Center by author Chetan Bhagat served as the inspiration for the movie, and director Atul Agnihotri chose to portray Katrina as the female representation of God guiding Salman Khan. It’s interesting that too many movies featuring major celebs acting as Salman Khan’s gods failed at the box office.
In the recent film Thank God (2022), Ajay Devgn as CG, a contemporary interpretation of the Hindu god Chitragupta. The movie was a legally sanctioned remake of the popular Danish film Sorte Kugler from 2009. However, despite having actors like Ajay Devgn and Sidharth Malhotra, it ended up being the biggest failure of filmmaker Indra Kumar’s career. Indra Kumar has previously directed popular movies like Dil, Beta, Masti, and Dhamaal. And everyone is aware of what transpired with the Ramayan-based film Adipurush starring Prabhas and Saif Ali Khan a few months back.
Therefore, OMG continues to be the only admirable and watchable movie with a famous actor playing God. continues to demonstrate that, if the movies are poor, forget the stars; not even God can save them.
SOURCE: KHALEEJ TIMES