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15 Years Of Om Shanti Om: 6 Reasons Why It Is An Extraordinary Cult Classic!

There's no movie quite like the 2007 film Om Shanti Om - it has everything that is needed in a masala Bollywood potboiler; a nostalgic ode to Bollywood.

Om Shanti Om (2007) was one of those cult films that ended up shaping the personalities of all those who resonated with it. The film had something to offer to every Bollywood buff, no matter what their areas of interest might be.

As the film turned fifteen on 9th November 2022, let’s look at six reasons why the film continues to have a special place in our hearts: 

The dramatic, yet memorable dialogues

There wasn’t a single student in my class back in 2007 who didn’t know the entire monologue that ended with Picture abhi baaki hai mere dost,” (the film isn’t over yet) or “Ae…tum bore toh nahi ho rahi na,” (hey, I hope you aren’t getting bored).

These dialogues and monologues were spoken numerous times in the film in a systematic manner in such a way that they didn’t just become unforgettable for the viewers, but also played an important role in shaping the entire narrative. 

The catchy music numbers for every occasion

Much like every cult Bollywood film, Om Shanti Om offered us songs for every occasion – the initial stages of love, a heartbreak and even a celebratory occasion.

Even today, after all these years, songs like Deewangi Deewangi are played at parties. Additionally, Jag Soona Soona Lage, is to date one of the most famous breakup numbers that Bollywood has given us. And of course the dreamy song Aankhon Mein Teri Ajab Si addressed to the ‘Dreamy Girl’ Shantipriya (Deepika Padukone).

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The nostalgia inducing storyline

The film, unlike most other Bollywood films released in the 2000s, derives its storyline about an ordinary man being reborn as a superstar from films of the 60-70-80s era when so many of the rebirth movies were made. It has references to those like Milan (1967), Kudrat (1981), Madhumati (1958), Mehbooba (1976), Karan Arjun (1995) Hamesha (1997) in various scenes, and of course Karz (1980), to which it pays a direct tribute.

However, it still does so by making its plot as relatable to the youth, especially ordinary ones, who could dream of being paired up with a celebrity. Something that of course, has its minus points in the larger picture, but that’s a topic for another day.

The character tropes from forever in Bollywood

Be it the nice guy, the dramatic mother, the damsel in distress or the attractive villain, the devoted friend, Om Shanti Om has them all.

What’s more is that the two main characters, Om (Shah Rukh Khan) and Shantipriya (Deepika Padukone) embody multiple tropes throughout the film which makes their roles more diverse – the striving to be together, the terrible way separation happens, the dialogues that carry over to the next birth, the “recall” of the earlier birth by one character but not the other… I could go on. 

There is also the utter impracticability of almost everything – what is a Bollywood masala movie of the 20th century anything but endearingly impractical – as opposite to the more realistic “art” movies.

The colourful retro costumes, true to the era they depicted

Since the first half of the film was based in the 70s era which, according to the director of the film, was ‘the most colourful era of Bollywood’, the costumes were designed to be retro and vibrant. From Shanti’s pink lehenga to her figure hugging churidar kurtis, the bouffant on top with the wide ribbon, all add a visual appeal to the film. The men are in Rajesh Khanna-esque clothes in multicoloured loud designs and sideburns.

Cut to the “present” of the movie. Now you have jeans, t-shirts, and the works. And the billboards behind the bridge on which Om and his friend Pappu have existential conversations, that reflect the time period. Sholay in the past, and brands of the 2000s in the movie’s “present.

Random (yet not so random) references to big names in Bollywood

Om Shanti Om is full of random yet not so random references to Bollywood actors and directors, complete with relevant music tracks in the background. This can be seen when the director of the film, Farah Khan herself gets into an argument with Om’s character while making a cameo appearance and tells him that had she been directing a film, he’d be the first one to get removed from it.

Soon after, Om’s best friend, Pappu is shown asking a man who looks and sounds like Bollywood actor Govinda to change his name from ‘Govind Ahuja’ to something else in order to make it big in the industry. When the man asks if ‘Govinda’ works, he hears Pappu and Om say, “Try kar le,” (give it a shot) in unison.

These scenes are followed by numerous jokes about actor Manoj Kumar, director Sooraj Barjatya and many other well known celebrities. Then there is a whole line-up of actors that come in the party song, something that has been done only once before, in Amitabh starrer Naseeb (1981) – the stuff of fan dreams for Bollywood buffs!

Shantipriya!

More than anything else, Om Shanti Om’s greatest gift to Bollywood was a talent like Deepika Padukone.

As an eight year old, I, like many others, had returned home head over heels in love with Padukone after watching the film to the point where my childhood best friend had to deal with my obsession for months. She who was introduced to the Indian audiences as the ‘dreamy girl’ continues to be just that for us even now.

And I must mention this – despite how much popularity the protagonist Om’s monologue gained, a dialogue that no one who has watched the film can ever forget is, “Ek chukti sindoor ki keemat tum kya jaano, Ramesh babu!” spoken by Shantipriya. 

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About the Author

Upasana Dandona

A dysgraphic writer who spends most of their time watching (and thinking about) Bollywood films. read more...

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