You need to watch Om Dar Ba Dar
Five reasons to not skip this cultural milestone from 1988
1) Because when was the last time you saw an Indian movie to which were ascribed weighty terms such as ‘Dadaism’, ‘Surrealism’ and ‘Magic Realism’, but which was still really just a lot of fun?
2) Because it contains elements of high art, but is also reminiscent of classic ’80s B-grade Hindi cinema. It begins as a straight narrative, then breaks into a fractured timeline. It is about horoscopes, the radio, the first landing on the moon, caste references, communism, women’s liberation, an impending world war, religion, mysticism, Nehru, Promise toothpaste, turtles, tadpoles, diamonds and more.
3) Because while the Indian parallel cinema movement was a reaction to the mainstream films of its time, director Kamal Swaroop said, “In Om Dar Ba Dar, I was reacting to the parallel cinema of that time.” This must make you curious.
4) Because its female characters are fascinating. One, for example, watches movies alone in a seedy small-town theatre full of men. She also decides against suicide, even though her lover has swallowed cyanide in what was supposed to be a pact between them.
5) Because it doesn’t dress up small-town India like Bollywood is prone to today. The Ajmer and Pushkar of Om Dar Ba Dar are kitschy, but not cosmeticised. Songs, like ‘A-A-A, Mohabbat Humsafar Ho Jaa’, are shot like documentaries, and seem to occur rather than be performed.
In case you missed the PVR Director’s Rare release in January, you can buy the DVD, out now.