Cakes and Ale: Omkara Vs KANK

Trina Talukdar

I have recently been very disappointed with the general Indian movie audience.

I watched “Omkara” and was swept off my feet. It is what an adaptation is, in the true sense of the word. To lift a story from 16th century Venice about the Venecian Senate and to fit it in exactly into 21st century rural UP can only be achieved by a genius. And the story has been adapted so smoothly that it seems very realistic throughout. Every minutest detail was tended to. Kareena Kapoor had stubbily cut nails on her right hand and longish nails with chipped nail-polish on her left hand, exactly as most Indian women who have to work at home do. And the acting i cannot even begin to comment on. Saif Ali Khan was so convincing as a villain that he positively scares you. And you could see Ajay Devgan emote through his eyes even with shades on. Kareena Kapoor is so natural; her innocence, her complete devotedness to Omkara have come across so beautifully that you wonder if Rani Mukherjee or Kajol are wearing Kareena masks (really, anyone who understands anything about acting will not have held any cordial feeling towards Kareena Kapoor before this movie!)

The cinematography is brilliant- Saif breaking the mirror n smearing himself with blood, the last scene where Kareena’s dead body swings over Ajay’s shot-dead self, Konkona’s protrayal as Kali to mention a few. When Ajay Devgan is stifling Kareena with the pillow, I swear I was getting choked.

And such a movie was dismissed by the Indian audience…because it used swear words. It was an “A” rated movie, so who told them to take their children along, those who complained about it not being a ‘family movie’!? And those swear words were necesarry to create local colour. In UP women use “chutia” as a word of endearment to their husbands.

But what was the Indian audience looking forward to? “KANK” and for those of you who are gonna go like “What the hell is Kank?” like I did the first time I heard the abbreviation…its the latest Karan Johar multi-starrer. It was terrible, as was most likely. But the audiences are still flocking to the theatres. Not for the story or the drama…NO! That has been established as bogus from the day it was released. But for the grand sets, Shahrukh Khan, Rani Mukherjee, songs and dances, Manish Malhotra lehengas.

Really, after more than a century of Indian cinema, it’s time for the movie audience to grow up. It is time for them to stop making cinema a way to avoid reality. That’s why people are watching KANK- to forget their own ordinariness and for 3 hours to create an illusion that life is all pomp and glamour and there are always happy endings. “Life is not all cakes and ale” (in the words of Shakespeare, “Twelfth Night”) and there is no point building such illusions around our lives. The masses have to wake up to reality- the reality of Langda Tyagi’s destructive ambition, the fickle nature of love, the dirt in politics and that more often than not one dead body lies swinging on top of the other…no! everyone does not get married to whom they love and there are no such things as ‘happily ever after.’ I’m not a chronic depressive claiming there’s no happiness in this world…there is Dolly’s pure love and Konkona’s loving concern and Kesu Firangi’s innocence, but there is no ‘happily ever after,’ all who live know this. Cinema should be a medium to help people get close to reality, not escape it.

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"Cakes and Ale: Omkara Vs KANK" by @bongbuzz



  1. I completely agree with you with regard to Omkara. It was a brilliant movie, which a large majority of the indian audience failed to appreciate. Sadly.
    However, i wouldnt blame them entirely since the unfamiliar dialect left many in the audience wanting for more. Infact, most of them could barely grasp the storyline in its entirely.And definitely the essence of a film like Omkara is lost if the dialogues are incomprehensible.
    But then again, most of us should still have been able to appreciate the other dynamics of the movie, simply because they are so powerfull.Especially, those of us who went to see not just another movie, but an adaptation of Shakspeare’s Othello and thereby had prior knowlege about the storyline, plot etc and could easily cross over the language barrier.

    With regard to KANK, well i must confess that i havent seen the movie yet – i refuse to spend 250 rupees on a movie ticket.
    However, when you say,’It is time for them to stop making cinema a way to avoid reality’ – i dont quite agree. One of the most important functions of cinema, if not the primary function, is to entertain. And, lets accept it, after a hard days work when you buy youself a ticket,packet of popcorn and you walk into a cinema hall, you want wholesome entertaintment – you want to, even if its just for a few hours, to forget the gruesome reality of everyday life and just take a break!And there is nothing wrong in that. And no ones running away from reality – you siomply cant do that- they are just taking a break and maybe in some ways preparing themselves to face Reality better.

    But then again i am not saying that, cinema should always be make-believe and all-fantasy and nothing more ( life say, movies like Fanaa and Main Hoon Na). Ofcourse not.
    Infact, iam all FOR realistic cinema, just as long as its still entertaining and enjoyable. And this is definitely possible – just like ‘ they lived happily ever after’ is also possible in real life.

    Bottomline : there is no conflict between an Omkara and an KANK.
    they both can both exist side by side and serve their own fuctions. Omkara as an entertainer ( ofcourse, only for those who can appreciate that kind of cinema ) as well a brilliant cinematic depiction of Real Life and KANK also as an entertainer for those want that kind of enetertaintment.

  2. Agreed that there’s nothing wrong with escaping reality for a little while and pretending the world is full of beautiful people and luxuries. But that is all the Indian audiences seem to be doing. They ONLY appreciate the Yash Chopra love stories…and that too conventional love stories. “Fiza” was not appreciated by most of the masses because when they went in they found out the hero and heroin were siblings! oh no….no love songs with them running around in the fields!
    Of course its alright to walk into a movie hall and just enjoy the movie, but that shouldn’t be all they do. On Saturday watch KANK and dance around trees, on Sunday watch a movie which has more to say and show and think about the world you are living in. Their tastes need to mature into movies with graver subject matters than just who gets to marry whom.
    If films such as “Omkara”, “Fiza”, “Maqbool” are not appreciated then the directors will not find any motivation to make good movies anymore and we might get stuck with watching people who have never heard a rock song in their lives singing “rock-n-roll sohniye.”

  3. I must say that any movie adaptation of a book(play in this case), if appreciated by (its) fan is definitely a worthy adaptation. However im generalising here, as most of the adaptations of novels have been crappy(see da vinci code, harry potter). Such attempts im sure can never fulfil the desires of any fan due to time constraints, sometimes wooden acting by actors who fail to understand their character’s needs etc etc. Not sure if the same applies for play adaptations.

    But this is going off topic; coming back to the topic of omkara, i feel there has been a certain fanboigiri shown here due to the fact that u like shakespear so much that u feel anyone intelligent enough(especially a bollywood producer/director) to adapt in any way would be worthy of commendation. However since I have not seen the movie, I would like to leave the matter at that. Next time around cut down on the spoilers!

    As for KANK as people call it, I have absolutely failed to grasp why Karan Johar should make such ventures where the hero of his movie meet this girl who actually pretends to be a nerd (I mean which girl in her right mind does that?), then forces her to shed her clothes at a nightclub to get rid of this nerd image and then causes her to fall in love with him before confessing to her that ‘this was an awful mistake cos it completely slipped my mind that im a heart patient about to die any moment while i was hitting on you (apart from the fact that im already married). Now this heartbroken girl starts running in the rain(dunno why they always associate sadness/heartbreaks with people walking/running on a rain drenched street oblivious to everything around him/her [mostly her] ) & the hero thinks “what have i done? i have broken the heart of the girl i love(whom ive forced into believing i dont love) and hence now i must start hitting on the fat girlfriend of the girl i love, while at the same time arranging for their common best friend to fall in love with the girl he(the hero) loves, while he gives them his blessing! (yeah its actually as complicated as the construction of that last sentence). Now why should anyone make a movie depicting something like this which far from reality is just point blank stupid?

    Now KJ has decided he can rely on an extremely large and expensive star cast rather than focusing on ‘so called story(see above)’, in order to create this heap of rubbish which in one word is summed up as ‘kank’. Now how we can expect anything better than his previous venture is beyond me but the general public will love it all the same for they get to drool to their favourite stars afterall. All in all i feel its funny a comparison between these two movies was even made for the latter of the two cant even qualify as cinema.

    Now coming back to the article you wrote trina, i completely agree with mayuri, that not all movies are made to depict reality in its absolutity, but nevertheless u brought up a good point that today most cinema (especially bollywood projects) are made only to entertain apart from helping the viewer escaping his/her [mostly his in this case cos im one of them too] lifely misery for 3 glorious hours. But watching star wars or lord of the rings is one thing but watching something idiotic like KANK is another. Fact remains however, that 90% of indian public going to cinema houses go there for entertainment rather than another lesson at how cruel life is..

    Leaving this out, you’ve struck most of the right notes and im satisfactorily impressed with your work. Adios (ps: mayuri where do tickets cost Rs 250/- ???!@!)

  4. @chaoticz

    You are right that most book adaptations into movies are crap due to the time constraint. But with plays its different as they are written to be performed within a time-frame of 3-4 hours, so the time constraint thing doesn\’t apply with plays.
    You are right that I\’m biased towards Shakespeare but that only makes me stricter when judging someone who is adapting a Shakespearean play, so the bias quite works against Vishal Bharadwaj in this case. And for someone like me who had already read \”Othello,\” the story, ie. what happens next, had no attraction for me. Bharadwaj only had the strength of his characterisation and cinematography to appeal to audiences like both Mayuri and me.
    Thank-you for that summary of the story line of KANK. It was enlightening.
    And yes, at the Inoxes, tickets were for Rs.250 for the entire first week. The lowest priced tickets were for Rs. 180.

  5. Hey hey that summary was of his previous venture.. that is kal ho na ho ! not kank :P and who is his/her right mind is gonna go watch a hindi movie that too this pile of crap for 250rs?

  6. i never finished my story on my friend buying me Rs. 180 tickets to go watch KANK. Ya…so my friend bought the tickets without asking me and I completely flipped when i heard not that I had to cough up 180 bucks, but that I had to suffer KANK for more than 3hours. well, i refused to go through such torture willingly, but of course had to pay my friend for the ticket.
    So basically, I paid Rs.180 to not watch KANK, which is a fair enough bargain, I guess!! lol! a far better option than paying Rs. 180 to watch it!

  7. OK…what with all this talk going on about KANK and all. I had the weirdest dream last night.

    I’m watching KANK in Inox, only Inox looks like the audio-visual room in our college. And…hold your breaths for this… KANK is about a cannibilistic cult! Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukherjee live on this tribal island of cannibals. They attract whoever comes near the island with porn videos n then eat them up! So Shahrukh Khan, Akshay Kumar (dunno how he came into KANK, but never mind) and Abhishek Bachchan are on this raft when they are sent this video on their cell phones (ya, they have network on this tribal island!) and its a porn video of Rani Mukherjee n Amitabh, so they row onto the island to see more porn and then are eaten up by the tribals!
    At any rate, thts a better story line than the one Karan Johar thought up! hehehhe!

  8. i was unable catch up with either of these i am really not in the position to comment on it…
    but yeah as far as kank is concerned i bet its a worthless piece of point of doubting as it is a karan johar-sharukh combo…
    in case of omkara…i am sure intelligent audience in india hav appreciated the movie…and hav given the movie the worth it 4 its not being as popular as kank..i guess sumthing like this can only be expected out of dumbasses…n u knw wat trina lets jus not consider d opinion of these dumb fucks…
    if omkara is a gud piece of work it wil surely not escape the critics eye…..intelliegent cinema has alwayz been appreciated in india despite the idiotic opinions of sum people…..n if we start rating movies according to its popularity barely there wil be any gud cinema left….

  9. Rubina, I couldn’t agree with you more. I guess, at the end of the day a movie is rightly judged by the opinion of intelligent critics and not the masses.

  10. the same instance occured with “maqbool”….inspite of it being a great movie there was hardly any talk about it…the movie got released n vanished even sooner….actually i reckon in india most of the films click just by the tag it bears…n the most usual ones being d yash chopra tag…no matter how crappy a yash banner movie ends up being the talk of the town….its crazy

  11. @ruby

    No, its not at all crazy- infact it makes perfect sense.

    firstly, movies like maqbool and omkara are usually made for a niche audience – like it not.
    take for eg omkara: the language barrier made it very difficult for my aunt, who by the way speaks hindi at home, to understand the nitty gritties of the plot. naturally, she wasnt too satisfied with the whole movie – though she did appreciate some of the other aspects of the movie which went beyond linguistic barriers. yet the experience was incomplete.
    Also, she was convinced that the language was unfit for her 12 yr old. No matter how realistic it may have been.

    on the other hand, a movie like KANK or the KJ-YC-SRK combo movies like KHNH or KKHH, are ones that generally cater to all classes and age groups.
    Its the usual love story ( at times, twisted beyond redemption). Plus its visually appealing – the foriegn locales and designer costumes.And the music score is usually feet-tapping and all.
    Over all you get a well packaged deal.Naturally, these movies do better at the Box Office than others.

    You see, when you talk of a sucess – there are 2 kinds- commercial and critical. if KANK is declared a BO hit, it simply means it has been a commercial success.
    And omkara has definitely recvd loads of critical acclaim.
    Ofcourse there are some flims like, Black and Monsoon Wedding, for eg which recvd both but then again such films are few and far between

    and lemme reiterate one more point – both omkara and maqbool were hugely appreciated by the critics. and they did not flop at the BO either-infact they did bring home profits as well, if i am not mistaken.

  12. @mayuri

    hey but dont u reckon the indian audience today is growing with time….gone are the days when people preferred watchin actors running and dancing around the trees….as in wudnt you prefer an “omkara” to “kank”….

  13. offcourse, the indian audience is growing/changing.Indian cinema is evolving. they have more options now and all.

    and see, there is nothing wrong in watchin actors running around trees. If someone finds it enteratining , why not?

    Also, “I’ would prefer omkara to Kank ,but tha doesnt mean evrybody else would – simply because, esp. in this case, not evrybody has read shakespeare, not evrybody knows the story of Othello, not evrybody would understand the dialect ( hell,neither did I, atleast for a significant part)not evrybody would want to hear the word ‘chutiya’ with the 12yr old sitting by their side…
    unlike these others, i and u and trina have read othello, know the basic plot, and didnt have 12 yr olds sittign next to us!

    and lemme say this again, Omkara and kank are not in conflict. they are just difrerent kinds of cinema that cater 2 differnt tastes. tey simply exist side by side. its not sucha big deal!
    Some watch omkara, some watch Kank and most otehrs watch both.

  14. I definately agree that the Indian audiences are evolving and our tastes are improving, although, i want to reiterate, that we have a long way to go.
    I have seen whole interviews on TV on why Karan Johar didn’t make a feel-good movie. Truth is, in India its usually the feel-good movies that do well at the box-office. Evryone’s a sucker for happy endings. And i guess that is understandable to some extent as unlike in Hollywood, people here in India have to worry about basic survival and do not give a damn about cinematography and subtle acting. Like mayuri said in her first comment…people want to escape from their gruelling realities to a glamorous life for a little while.
    But the problem, according to me, is when people who do not have to fight for their basic necessities, or do not have difficult lives, live pretty glamorous lives themselves too look only for feel-good movies and will not accept the harsh truths that movies like Omkara and Fiza show.
    I think their psychology works in the oppsite direction to those who are tryign to excape their own hard lives. These educated, rich and “happy” people do not want to pollute their happiness by watching what lies beyond their glamorous lifestyles. They run by the “ignorance is bliss” principle.
    And it is this part of the population really (and we encounter too many of them in our lives…a “large section” of our class, so to say…) which seem to be the problem to me. Because the people who are fighting for basic survival maybe expected to start appreciating reality-based, harsh movies when one day (yes…one day) India becomes a developed nation and per capita income goes up; but those so called “elites” who fail to appreciate movies like Omkara merely because it makes you feel horrid and makes you think about human nature in spite of having the time and capability to do all the thinking…there’s just no hope for them.
    And as for Mayuri’s aunt who faced a problem when she took her 12 year old son to watch Omkara. Well, you can’t hold the swear words against the movie…its just not a valid point, and I’ve talked about this in my opening article as well. Omkara is an A-rated movie, so your aunt should not have taken her 12 year old son to watch it at all. And those swear words were NECESSARY to create the atmosphere, local colour to make the film realistic, to bring the feel.

  15. As far as trina’s last post is concerned, i compltely agree .

    I’d just like to reiterate one last point-
    Omkara may not have been a biggest hit of the year, but it has dont pretty well for itself.
    the critics have appreciated the movie and very liberally so.
    and even the BO collections were good ( or so i hear).

  16. As far as trina’s last post is concerned, i compltely agree .

    I’d just like to reiterate one last point-
    Omkara may not have been a biggest hit of the year, but it has done pretty well for itself.
    the critics have appreciated the movie and very liberally so.
    and even the BO collections were good ( or so i hear).

  17. ok, i read this in the mornign papers-

    and i NOT quoting, just paraphrasing –

    Recently, the govt. has decided to come down heavily on obscene music videos that litter indian television. And so, some of those who star in music videos where questioned – u kno the usual, ” do u think ur job will be threatened etc? ”

    and Ms. Rakhi Sawant was one of them – she said that she doesnt need to be woried, since none of her videos have been A-rated, but there are many videos that are definietly vulgar.( so far, so good)And then she adds, ” omkara is vulgar”

  18. Really Mayuri, how could you think that Rakhi Sawant videos would be A-rated…I mean all she does is show a mile of her cleavage, her butt- crack once in a while. And she is occasionally licked and bitten by indiscriminate men. That is not vulgar, oh no.
    But did you see that scene in Omkara where Konkona is lieing down on Saif’s bare chest and that sequesnce when Kareena is chasing Ajay Devagan in the fields? chhi chhi! “Omkara is vulgar.”
    Vive le Rakhi Sawant!