Om Jai Jagadish

When an actor of Anupam Kher’s experience and caliber decides to step behind the camera and wield the megaphone, expectations begin to soar.

Joining hands with a production giant like Vashu Bhagnani, big wig music director Anu Malik and lyricist Sameer, Anupam put together a formidable team coupled with an all star cast. Waheeda Rehman, Anil Kapoor, Fardeen Khan, Abhishek Bachchan, Mahima Chaudhary and Urmila Matondkar were signed up for the leading roles in this multi starrer family drama. The seasoned actor turned director was taking no chances and no short cuts. Relying on an age old tried and tested formula of a joint family of three brothers with the quintessential Indian mother, Kher had chosen a story line close to the heart of the masses. To attract the more westernised metro audiences, a glitzy stylised finish was apparent in all the promos aired on various channels. Om Jai Jagadish seemed to have all the necessary ingredients for a box office hit.

The story unfolds with three brothers, Om (Anil Kapoor), Jai (Fardeen Khan) and Jagadish (Abhishek Bachchan) and their mother (Waheeda Rehman) who make up a close knit family. Om, the eldest, is the head of the family who looks after everyone financially. Jai is studying to be an engineer in Atlanta, U.S.A and dreams of making the fastest car in the world. Jagadish, the youngest, is in college in Mumbai and although a whiz with computers, is the mischievous, fun loving brother. Om is a Marketing Manager in a music company owned by his childhood friend, played by Parmeet Sethi, and has borrowed money to the tune of lakhs to support Jai’s education abroad.

The story progresses with the marriage of Om to (Ayesha) Mahima Chaudhary, a veejay on MTV. In the meantime, Jai is in love with his college classmate Neetu (Urmila Matondkar), the glamorous daughter of rich parents settled in the US. And back in Mumbai, Jagadish has lost his heart to a girl from Bangalore who he meets in an inter-collegiate festival, a role essayed by new comer Tara Sharma.

All is well in paradise until Jai comes back to India after completing his education and soon after, with the blessings of his family, marries Neetu. Then begin the trials and tribulations of this family with everything that can possibly go wrong, doing so. A story that was happy, filled with comical moments and had promise to be a through and through light hearted entertainer suddenly takes a sharp turn with extreme melodrama, emotional turmoil and one scene more heart wrenching than the next. You begin to wonder whether any of the characters will ever smile again!

In an attempt to show the struggle of the three brothers and the situations that drive them apart and destroy a happy family, Anupam Kher has gone slightly overboard on the emotions, giving no comical respite in the second half of the film. The melodramatic end with the good triumphs over evil philosophy and all wayward characters repentant for their behaviour brings to mind films of the seventies like the Amitabh Bachchan-Rishi Kapoor-Vinod Khanna starrer Amar Akbar Anthony.

Anupam Kher deserves marks for a first attempt. The story line may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but those who have loved it, have felt it brought back memories of films belonging to an era gone by. Kher has extracted good performances out of his artistes especially Anil Kapoor whose convincing portrayal of the sacrificing, honest yet simple elder brother has the audience endeared to him. Abhishek Bachchan has undoubtedly given his best performance to date in a role that has a range of emotions to portray as the plot develops. Fardeen Khan fits well into his character of a modern youngster with big dreams and Urmila doesn’t disappoint as the spoiled headstrong Neetu coloured with shades of grey.

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