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Om Dar-Ba-Dar (1988) (Movies To See Before You Die - Drama / Experimental Comedy)

26 Aug, 2012 | Movies To See Before You Die / Drama

Om Darbadar - Bobby Talks Cinema.com

The Off Beat or Art Cinema Wave of the 80s has certainly got more appreciators and fans in the present times of World Wide Web as compared to that tough decade of Hindi Cinema. And if you are one of the die-hard lovers of those brilliant Art House films then you got to know about OM DAR-BA-DAR as a must, since that particular genre of Indian Artistic movies remains incomplete without mentioning this one of its kind of attempt by director Kamal Swaroop.
But here the most interesting point to be understood is that this film is not referred to as a ‘not to be missed creation’ for any usual reason normally associated with this particular movement of Hindi cinema. In other words, Yes, it is one of the key films of that famous era of thoughtful films but still it cannot be kept in the same genre and deserves to be given its own special space in that long list of cult films, for a reason. To make it more clear, the famous 80s Art Wave movies are majorly remembered for their meaningful subjects, realistic story-plots, powerful natural performances, visionary direction and their sharp sarcasm targeting the unbalanced, questionable social structure of the country prevailing at that specific point of time.
And that’s where OM DAR-BA-DAR actually differs from them all as it doesn’t feature any of the usual characteristics mentioned above in an exact or routine manner. Though it has a basic storyline revolving around a young boy called Om, his failing beliefs in the adolescent years, his interactions with the close family members and his personal relationships with science, magic and religion. But despite of having this basic plot-structure, the film doesn’t deal with any of these elements in the usual expected manner at all. In fact, you may find the experience of watching it as the most unique, weird and unusual one ever, defying all the fundamental norms of our Hindi film industry strongly.
Explaining this rare experiment with reference to the WORLD CINEMA, this is probably the only Indian film which can be easily kept in the genre of Abstract or Unconventional Art Films, where it may not make any kind of sense to a common man in its first viewing. It may turn out to be an expressive amalgamation of some wacky scenes where you don’t know whether you are supposed to smile, laugh, think, cry or do anything else to reach the deeper or actual meaning of the sequence. In true words, OM DAR-BA-DAR might be like an exclusive modern art painting for many, where you don’t even know that whether you are holding it rightly or not, as it ought to be. But that’s exactly where the beauty lies in its abstract (wicked, nonsensical or confusing) expressions waiting to be explored by different viewers in their own exclusive & enlightening ways.
Supporting my above comment the director of the film, Kamal Swaroop also recalls in his interview, the time when the Censor Board refused to give him a certificate for around one long year and the reason they gave for their refusal was that, “The film has got some hidden meanings and the people may get some wrong messages from it”. (which might be against our own rotten social religious structure and they were not exactly sure of that.)
Further sharing his own memories of making the cult film, the director says,
“When I made Om Dar-Ba-Dar, it wasn’t to make a film, it was a kind of ritual. I wasn’t really making a film but going through a ritualistic process of film-making. It was almost like gathering my Samagari (material) and putting them together like an Alchemist. But what I wanted to change I didn’t know.
       I knew a bit what I was aspiring for, but it was almost like a spelling mistake between - Will it be Cannes or Will it be in the cans. So it stayed in the cans and didn’t go to the Cannes. And that time when it came into the market, people didn’t think that it was a film or it was anything.”
Later in the same interview, remembering an incident about a film festival, he recalls that they kept it in a special slot of experimental films at that time since, “The commercial guys didn’t think it was commercial enough and the Artistic people thought that it was not Art enough”.
Reading the above description of the movie, its pretty obvious that you might start thinking that What kind of film it is? Or What exactly it is all about and Is it really watchable?

So as an answer to such questions, I would bluntly like to say that if you do consider yourself a true student of cinema then you got to watch this as a must but it’s surely not just for everyone quite honestly. The film could easily be nothing for many and valuable for a few as it is strictly not made as per any fixed pattern of film-making you might be habitual of. And it is bound to have many diverse meanings and interpretations by its different viewers watching it from their own distinctive perspectives arguably.
Where for some keen viewers it might be a winning, memorable Indian masterpiece, yet for the others it can only be a meaningless collection of randomly shot sequences put together. For a few it might be the pioneer example of Abstract Art Movies made in India, but for others it simply can be a forceful attempt of making a satire of almost everything. Where some may find deep hidden meanings in its unrelated dialogues spoken carelessly, there for others the same words may simply sound like Gibberish. And where for some friends it might be a film which is irritating, annoying, confusing and disturbing like anything, there for the rest it may turn out to be an immensely hilarious take on various social issues of our daily life.
Now if a single film can be seen from such diverse angles and perceptions then that itself proves the importance of an exceptional creative work without any doubt. 
But in case you are still in double mind about watching it then the following facts about the movie may inspire you to do so at the earliest.
1. OM DAR-BA-DAR was the actual inspiration behind all those Brass Band based scenes and songs such as “Emotional Atyachaar” in Anurag Kashyap’s DEV-D and the recent GANGS OF WASSEYPUR series too. And this was revealed by Anurag himself in one of his online write-ups.
2. I also found a double meaning one liner in the film using the name “Roz Merry” which was recently adapted in one of the scenes of 2012 sexy comedy KYA SUPER KOOL HAIN HUM too.
3. Recognizing the film as a masterpiece made much ahead of its times, it was awarded the Filmfare Critics Award for the Best Film in the year 1989.
4. The script of the movie has few dialogues which you might be hearing for the first time in an Indian film like when a lady asks a question, “Can women really climb Mount Everest without the help of men? Then she gets the answer, “Why not? Our Goddess Parvati did it centuries back.” Or when Om innocently says, “Jab Main Padhta Hun, Naak Akshar Kha Jaati Hai”.
5. Its peculiar background score, the inventive use of sound and the ‘beyond normal’ songs deserve a special mention here as they superbly use some illogical verses and English references depicting the comical relationship people had with the language at that time. Like the Brass Band song with the lyrics, Meri Jaan A…Meri Jaan B coming right in the start of the film.
6. The now accepted cult classic has also got some absurd and at-your-face scenes (including the sexual one) which surely make you wonder upon the truth that the film was actually made way back in the late 80s when we were in fact quite over conservative in our cinematic expressions in particular (as proved by the mention of Sleeveless dresses in one of its dialogues too).
7. Admittedly OM DAR-BA-DAR has not got any collective meaning or purpose to serve (as mentioned by the director) in particular. Instead it can be called an intelligent blend of various symbols, indications or themes which might become more verbal (or clear) when you watch them individually, bisecting the film in parts. For instance when you carefully study only the reference of “First Man Landing on the Moon” being announced in the backdrop on the radio, along with the dialogues in front, then you may find the sequence more amusing and entertaining in its own individuality than as a part of the film collectively.

8. Another interesting fact about this landmark achievement is that it was never released on the Home video market in all these years. And as told by the director, it first got circulated in the industry circle through the copies made from a VHS tape master, which in reality was made for submitting to the censors. Later after the digital revolution in the country the same copy was transferred on to the Discs (VCDs and DVDs) by few friends, which kept circulating from one hand to another as recommended. Plus more recently someone shared the same files on the Torrents platform over the net which enabled many enthusiastic youngsters to watch it without being officially released by any company. And that was indeed a splendid underground journey of the movie in the last 24 years of its existence. 
9. Lastly, since I cannot recall any other Indian film literally following the Abstract, Innovative and Experimental Art of filmmaking in such a style, OM DAR-BA-DAR perhaps is the only representative of that particular genre in India till date.
Nevertheless, its quite possible that you might not like it at all or don’t find it that important part of our Hindi Cinema as projected above. But the fact remains that if you haven’t watched it yet, then you obviously are missing one of the rarest or rather lesser known, out of the box attempts made by one of our own talented film-makers, which still doesn’t have any comparable parallel in the entire repertoire of Hindi Films. Therefore, OM DAR-BA-DAR needs to be watched like a mandatory clause in the study of Hindi cinema, at least to taste the unique experience by a true movie buff, who is always ready to feel the shock and surprise provided by some scattered images running on the screen.
So just find it and watch it to amaze yourself like never before.
Directed By Kamal Swaroop
Starring : Anita Kanwar, Gopi Desai, Lalit Tiwari, Aditya Lakhia and more
Dialogues, Lyrics & Art Direction : Kuku
Music : Rajat Dholakiya
(Note : The Interview references and quotes in the write up are taken from Tehleka Channel’s official interview with the director Kamal Swaroop and you can watch the complete interview at this link : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RtxboGynvhM)
(UPDATE - JAN. 2014 - The film got re-released after Digital Restoration in only selected theaters and its official DVD are also releasing soon.)

Tags : Om Dar-ba-dar (1988), Movies To See Before You Die Drama, Experimental Comedy, Unconventional Indian Art Movies, Must See List by Bobby Sing, Kamal Swaroop, 80s Art Movies Wave, Innovative Indian Artistic Movies
26 Aug 2012 / Comments ( 6 )
manish bhardwaj

Where can i get this movie from ?

Bobby Sing

Hi Manish,
I was told that it is available on the Torrents sharing platform on the net, as also mentioned by the director in his interview.
So do try on the same and let me know if you get it or not.



Hi Manish

Spell it as OM-DAR-BA-DAR and you should be able to find it


Bobby Sing

Thanks Ashwathama for your kind suggestion.

Amit Joshi

A recent article about this movie

Bobby Sing

Thanks for sharing the link Amit and keep writing in.

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