'Gadar 2' and 'OMG 2': The clash of legacy Bollywood movies

The previous Gadar was a humongous hit back in 2001 while the first Oh My God! (2012), starring Paresh Rawal in the lead, became a surprise hit

By Yasser Usman

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Still from Gadar 2
Still from Gadar 2

Published: Thu 10 Aug 2023, 5:25 PM

Last updated: Thu 10 Aug 2023, 5:30 PM

Gadar 2 and OMG 2 ­— the two ‘legacy’ Bollywood films clashing this week come with a lot of baggage. The previous Gadar was a humongous hit back in 2001 while the first Oh My God! (2012), starring Paresh Rawal in the lead, became a surprise hit. Both movies sparked extensive debates due to their content. But the triumph of these two films also serves as a reminder of a time when audiences were more open to storylines and characters in films, without feeling easily offended or being overly sensitive towards certain characters or stories. Times have certainly changed. Censor board had asked the makers of both Gadar 2 as well as OMG 2 to remove certain scenes as they could incite or hurt the feelings of viewers. I hope both the films are judged on their content like their predecessors and are not canceled for ‘hurting sentiments’.

Sunny Deol and Ameesha Patel in Gadar
Sunny Deol and Ameesha Patel in Gadar

Having said that, I’d like to delve into an intriguing observation regarding Oh My God (2012). It holds the distinction of being the only film where a ‘big star’ of Bollywood portrayed God and the film went on to become a success. Yes, this is a rarity in Bollywood.

Let me share with you the films where major Bollywood stars were cast in the role of God and the films were outrightly rejected, mostly for being trashy films, and occasionally due to the content being deemed offensive.

Let’s begin with the box office hit Oh My God. In this satirical film, superstar Akshay Kumar plays the role of Lord Krishna who descends on earth to meet the man (Paresh Rawal) who filed a case against God. Curiously, the Censor Board didn’t raise any objections when Akshay, as Lord Krishna, prompts the atheist character to take on the godmen and their organised business of religion. This movie had the potential to trigger significant backlash from religious or political groups but that did not happen. The film was a sleeper hit.

With OMG 2, the backlash began with the launch of the first poster. Reportedly, the film explores the subject of sex education and this time, Akshay Kumar is playing the role of Lord Shiva. There is an entire campaign against the film on social media that is alleging it to be an attempt to malign the religion. The Censor Board is really being cautious and has ordered many cuts and changes. The coming days will reveal whether the film will be embraced by audiences akin to its precursor or met with rejection, similar to other instances where prominent stars took on divine roles.

Still from Oh My God
Still from Oh My God

Often referred to as the God of the Hindi film industry, Amitabh Bachchan took on divine roles in not one but three films. In God Tussi Great Ho (2008), a pathetic rip-off of Hollywood hit Bruce Almighty (2003), Bachchan played the role of a God wearing pristine white suits imparting wisdom to the thankless Salman Khan. It’s a film neither Salman nor Bachchan wish to remember. Agni Varsha: The Fire and The Rain (2002) had Amitabh Bachchan playing the God of Rains, Lord Indra. The expensive film, based on a famous play by Girish Karnad, failed to attract any interest. The third film, in fact, preceded these two flops. It was Salman Khan’s Hello Brother that featured Amitabh Bachchan’s famous baritone as the Heavenly Voice/God’s voice guiding the ghost played by Salman. So, playing God never bore the box office fruits for Bachchan.

Yash Raj Films’ take on Mary Poppins, Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic (2008) had veteran Rishi Kapoor playing the God wearing crisp white suits (yes, in the same year as Bachchan slipped into similar suits in God Tussi Great Ho). Despite a successful lead cast of Saif Ali Khan-Rani Mukerji and Ameesha Patel crooning to the hit number Lazy Lamhe in a yellow bikini, the film was a disaster. Sanjay Dutt played Yamraj, the Hindu God of Death, in Mahesh Manjrekar’s forgettable Vaah! Life Ho To Aisi. Dutt tried hard to save this utterly boring film as a tech-savvy Yamraj wearing designer suits and glasses. A young Shahid Kapoor added his charm but the film tanked.

The controversial Kalyug Aur Ramayan (1987) was promoted as a modern-day version of Ramayana. Manoj ‘Bharat’ Kumar played Pawan Putra, a contemporary interpretation of Lord Hanuman wearing a badly-fitted white suit (yes, white suit again!). Before its release, many Hindu organisations created furore over the film’s title (Kalyug Ki Ramayan) as well as the dialogue, songs and dances. The Censor Board refused to pass the film initially. Manoj Kumar relented and changed the title to Kalyug Aur Ramayan and removed many dialogues. Despite that, it was a resounding flop. However, the laughable film finds a place in various ‘so bad that it’s good’ lists, giving company to Manoj Kumar’s other gem Clerk.

It wasn’t just male stars being rejected by audiences as gods in Hindi films; Katrina Kaif played God in the 2008 movie Hello. The film was an adaptation of author Chetan Bhagat’s novel One Night at the Call Centre and director Atul Agnihotri decided to cast Katrina as a female incarnation of God guiding Salman Khan. Interestingly, too many films with big stars as gods guiding Salman Khan met the same fate at the box office.

Recently, Ajay Devgn played CG, a modern version of the Hindu God Chitragupta in Thank God (2022). The film was an official remake of the successful 2009 Danish film Sorte Kugler. But despite the presence of stars like Devgn and Sidharth Malhotra, it became the biggest flop of director Indra Kumar’s career, who otherwise has a list of hit films like Dil, Beta, Masti, Dhamaal on his name. And we all know what happened a few months ago with Prabhas-Saif Ali Khan’s Adipurush, which was based on Ramayan.

So, the singular triumphant and watchable film featuring a prominent star as God remains OMG. Goes on to prove that if the films are bad, forget the stars, even the Almighty can’t save them.

Over to OMG 2 now!


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