This is a retelling of “Othello” set in contemporary India. Shakespeare’s story works amazingly well, with only a few very minor tweaks. (The director has also done “Maqbool,” an adaptation of “Macbeth,” but I have not had a chance to see that yet; it’s in my Netflix queue.)
Omkara is the leader of a gang in rural Uttar Pradesh; the gang does local politician Bhaisaab’s dirty work. Omkara’s two most trusted lieutenants are Langda and Kesu.
Meanwhile, Dolly has run away from her family and her impending marriage to Rajju because she has fallen hopelessly in love with Omkara. Her father, a local advocate who also works for Bhaisaab, is furious, and confronts Omkara at his headquarters. Before any violence ensues, Langda contacts Bhaisaab, who forbids Dolly’s father from shooting Omkara. Angry and shamed, but powerless to change anything, Dolly’s father leaves. At a later meeting with Omkara, he plants the first tiny seeds of doubt: “a girl who would decieve her father like this is capable of anything.”
Meanwhile, Bhaisaab has been released from jail, and wins the local election. At a religious ceremony celbrating their win, Omkara surprisingly names Kesu his successor, rather than Langda. Langda is dismayed and exceedingly jealous, as he assumed he would be chosen because of his years of faithful service (he is also married to Indu, who Omkara’s sister), while Kesu is a relative newcomer to the gang.
Meanwhile, Dolly has settled in to life in Omkara’s compound. All seems to be going well: Omkara is full of love and treats her well, even giving her a jeweled belt that has been worn by brides joining his family for generation, she gets along well with Indu, everything seems to be falling neatly into place to assure her happiness.
Meanwhile, Langda’s jealousy is raging away, and he devises with a cunning plan to punish both Omkara and Kesu for their roles in his slighting. Dolly and Indu are unwitting pawns in his scheme, and both end up paying a very high price for their involvement.
You know how the story ends: not at all well.
Kareena Kapoor (Dolly) and Vivek Oberoi (Kesu) did not annoy me as much as they usually do, Saif Ali Khan (Langda) was suitably bitter and evil, and Ajay Devgan (Omkara) was both menacing and hot, as any good Othello should be.
Source: personal copy