A video of a boy pleasuring himself in the school toilet goes viral. He is rusticated for aberrant behaviour. He is gripped by self-loathing, his father is livid with him and their self-righteous neighbours sever all links with the family.
The boy’s father, an unswerving devotee of Lord Shiva, decides to leave the central Indian holy town they call home. But before the family can board the train that will take them to Saharanpur, an emissary of Lord Shiva shows up. The simple-minded man witnesses a miracle. He returns home and opts to stay and fight.
Kanti Sharan Mudgal (Pankaj Tripathi) takes the school to court and demands that his son’s unjustified rustication be revoked. By bringing matters out in the open, he hopes to help the cowering boy rid himself of his sense of guilt and shame and compel the institution to accept the blame for not giving him and his classmates the guidance that they needed.
The purpose of Kanti’s petition – no lawyer is willing to represent him so he becomes his own counsel – is to impress upon the court the need to introduce a comprehensive sex education course in schools so that boys of his son’s ilk (and girls, too) do not fall prey to misconceptions about their bodies and sexual desires.
That, in a nutshell, is what OMG 2, written and directed by Amit Rai (he made Road to Sangam 13 years ago), is about. At one level, the film may be deemed a pertinent courtroom drama that engages in a conversation of import. It, however, frequently ties itself up in knots and that isn’t a pretty sight.
The overlong, convoluted and simplistic satire – the sprinkling of comedy strewn across it renders the exercise more flippant than funny – ultimately yields no more than a sloppy mish-mash of the relevant and the gratuitous that even the most omnipotent of gods cannot salvage.
God’s messenger in OMG is embodied by a flamboyant Akshay Kumar. The star’s presence in the film is understandable. It enhances the box-office potential of the venture. But why Kanti Sharan Mudgal would need divine intervention to sort out his and his son’s everyday problems in the real world is never clearly and convincingly established.
It is almost as if the makers had a narrative kernel in place and were then given access to the title of a commercially successful film from a decade ago. God had to be willy-nilly made a part of the deal, no matter how tangentially, for the film to be called OMG 2.
To return to the yarn, the exuberant godly mediator in a town whose reigning deity is Shiva is followed by a colourfully draped bull – presumably a live incarnation of Nandi – every time he exits a scene after having trotted out useful maxims for the benefit of a confused believer. But the rockstar problem-solver seems to enjoy nothing more than getting behind the wheel of a snazzy car and driving like a maniac. Traffic rules obviously do not apply to him.
In a scene late in the film, he performs another life-saving miracle. The magical deed done, he takes Kanti for a spin in a fast car that leaves the latter dizzy with a mix of alarm and excitement. But none of the exhilaration that he feels is transmitted to the audience as the film limps towards a predictable climax.
In OMG, released in 2012, an agnostic shopkeeper sues the Almighty when his curio store is destroyed in an earthquake, which his insurance company defines as “an act of God”. The film, which had Akshay Kumar in the role of an avatar of Lord Krishna, revolved around a courtroom debate between faith and rationalism, between belief and scorn.
In the completely unrelated follow-up to that film, there is no room for the power of the divine to be called into question. Fervour replaces logic as God assumes a human form and descends on earth on a mission. He arms a harried father with the courage, and ammunition, to take on a powerful school and a bunch of businesses that give teenagers the false hope that there are quick-fixes available for their sexual deficiencies, real or imagined.
OMG 2, which endorses blind faith even as it trots out arguments in favour of adopting a scientific, clinical approach to sex education in schools, goes round in circles as it pits Kanti against Kamini Maheshwari (Yami Gautam Dhar), a lawyer who has a personal stake in the outcome of the case. She is the daughter-in-law (Yami Gautam Dhar) 0f the school chairman (Arun Govil).
The plea comes up for hearing in the court of Judge Purushottam Nagar (Pavan Raj Malhotra), an amiable man who is all ears to Kanti’s rough and ready arguments but has to frequently turn to the court stenographer for help to decipher the plaintiff’s earthy lingo.
The film is buoyed by lively performances that ring true, especially the ones by Pankaj Tripathi and Geeta Agrawal, who plays Kanti’s befuddled and emotionally rattled wife Indumati. But the bright spots go abegging because OMG 2 is undermined by too many false steps that lead it astray.
The film takes a random potshot at Macaulay, talks of how ancient India was a model of modernity while the rest of the world was stuck in the dark ages – no attempt is made to provide empirical evidence to support this grand theory – and brings into the unduly fluffy narrative allusions to themes (such as sexual violence, good touch and bad touch, et all) that should have been left for another film.
If the makers of OMG 2 knew where to draw the line and what to highlight and what to weed out, they would have had a far mellower and infinitely more convincing film to show for their well-intentioned but ill-conceived efforts.
While some of the thoughts that the film tosses around cannot be faulted, the methods that it employs to verbalise them border on the overly callow, when they are not outright facetious.
So, what does one make of a movie that wants to say the right things but does not quite know how to say them? Should we commend it for just trying? If one were in a generous mood, the answer might be is yes but not of the unequivocal kind that the affirmation would have been had OMG 2 not been such an exasperatingly middling affair.
To sum up, OMG 2 aspires to be as sharp as a scalpel but is actually as blunt as the back of a knife.
Akshay Kumar, Pankaj Tripathi, Yami Gautam, Arun Govil
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