Paresh Rawal’s Gujarati play Kanji Virrudh Kanji has had a successful run for many years. OMG Oh My God!, the film adapted from the play, is, however, completely lost in translation. There is nothing cinematic in this comedy about an Everyman who sues God because he loses all his life’s savings to an earthquake and his insurance company refuses to pay because it does not account for “an act of God” (which they consider the earthquake to be) in its contract.
The premise has enough for an irreverent comedy. But the script is a wishy-washy meditation on the hypocrisy of institutionalized religion. It is a loud, unequivocal exposé of godmen and temples, but while being so, it is not cinematic. The most crucial points in the story take place in a courtroom. Long-winding arguments, made with chest-thumping fervour, don’t have much wit to sustain them. Umesh Shukla, who has co-written and directed the film, does an almost literal adaptation from the original, because the film feels like a play throughout. Even the argument that religion in most forms is divisive and driven by greed, falls flat because, ultimately, the film champions the believer.
Rawal plays Kanjibhai, who owns a shop of idols in Mumbai’s Chor Bazaar. He is an aetheist, while his wife believes in religious rituals. Once the earthquake hits and he is almost on the streets, he decides to file a case against God and those who represent God, “God’s salesmen”—in this case, a troupe of greedy, menacing godmen led by their long-haired leader (Mithun Chakraborty). Kanjibhai is attacked by religious groups, and his wife and children leave him fearing danger, but his crusade continues with the help of a physically disabled Muslim lawyer (Om Puri). But his real protector and guide is Krishna (Akshay Kumar in a cameo), the Hindu god, who appears in an enigmatic avatar and abruptly, without much resistence from Kanjibhai, begins living with him. The film takes a ludicrous turn from here because Kanjibhai’s story itself becomes pointless.
The second half drags to a shoddy climax facilitated by the benign Krishna, who tells Kanjibhai that he indeed hates money and organized worship.
Rawal is a seasoned actor, and comedy is his forte. Here, his sense of comfort is even greater because he has been acting the same role in the play for many years. Yet there is no invention or suprise in the performance. Kumar has very little to do in it except pose and grin.
OMG Oh My God! could have been a taut, edgy take on organized religion. But it stops short, almost scared to really question religion, and turns into a verbose and silly film.
OMG Oh My God! released in theatres on Friday.