Ten years ago, cinema-goers all around were treated to choreographer-turned-filmmaker Farah Khan’s drama on reincarnation and love lost in the fire – Om Shanti Om – where a beauty in pink sashayed down the red carpet with a twinkle in her eyes and bearing the innocence of a newcomer. Shah Rukh Khan was there, too, in his usual exaggerated form clad in your grandfather’s clothes.
The film went on to be a success, with Deepika Padukone being billed as the next best thing in Bollywood. Shah Rukh Khan had long arrived so the film was nothing big for him, perhaps just another film added to his filmography with a slight throwback in it. Arjun Rampal, the titular villain, in a grey wig, is something which no one has come close to pulling it off.
The team of OSO celebrate this momentous occasion (not) of completing 10 years, falling perfectly on a #ThrowbackThursday.
— Farah Khan (@TheFarahKhan) November 9, 2017
It’s been 10 years since “Om Shanti Om” came out. @TheFarahKhan , I love you from the depths of my heart!Thanks to you & @iamsrk for, possibly, our most loved film! #10YearsOfOSO #FeelsLikeYesterday #GoodTimes pic.twitter.com/KYyR9kOwaB
— VISHAL DADLANI (@VishalDadlani) November 8, 2017
— Red Chillies Ent (@RedChilliesEnt) November 8, 2017
But while the film gave us 2007’s party anthem – ‘Dard-E-Disco’ – and a love for vintage clothing and hairdos, bear in mind that the South never forgets. The film was pretty easy on the intellect with jokes that were as juvenile like that of an eighth grader, but there was one bit where most people laughed while we the people down South kept silence. A bit completely driven by stereotypes and unfunny email forwards.
Om (SRK), the junior artist, tries to impress Shantipriya (Deepika Padukone) and convinces her that he’s an actor popular in Tamil cinema. He goes one step ahead and dresses up in flashy red clothes with tassels and bling on it, sports a fake handlebar mustache, and speaks gibberish passing it off as Tamil. If you type ‘Funny Scene Om Shanti Om’ on Google, that video is the first result.
Shantipriya walks in at the film sets of the “superstar from Madras” Omswami’s film Mind It.
“You Shot Gun! Me Quick Gun Murugan. Na rumbaa. Na nilai raki atti patti katti. Munedar munedar munedar! Enna da rascala?! Thoo daai! Mind it,” he screams.
Eliciting laughter with stales jokes that the North loves to quip about South, particularly alluding to those action-packed Rajinikanth films and Jaishankar, Om Shanti Om got away quite easily with no outrage 10 years ago.
You might have forgotten, dear OSO team. But the South never forgets.
This stereotype and use of the dialogue “enna da rascala“, something that has NEVER been considered mainstream in south cinema, continued and added as a precursor to other assault on our senses, always played by Shah Rukh Khan. There was Ra.One where he played Shekhar Subramanium, a Tamil scientist who likes to eat noodles with curd rice because that’s what the makers thought the South likes it.
And there was the ultimate cherry on the cake that we never wanted – the dreaded ‘Lungi Dance’ from Chennai Express. The trouble with the film is already quite significant to report, but the ‘Lungi Dance‘ in particular is what we will truly never forgive you for. Tone deaf and with lyrics that make no sense. “Anna jaisa chashma lagaa ke” – first of all, we don’t call Rajinikanth “anna“. He’s not our anna. We prefer the term ‘thalaivar’ or ‘thalapathy’ or simply, ‘thala’. There are too many thalas in South so be sure to specify. And if you want to allude to his or his predecessor’s films, a bit of research and better representation would work far more than the constant need to play on stereotypes.
In hindsight, OSO came out as a film that didn’t take itself too seriously.