The Subversive Genius of Om Shanti Om

Pop Culture

The Subversive Genius of Om Shanti Om

Illustration: Akshita Monga/Arré


ong before Shah Rukh Khan was busy meeting Sejals and Farah Khan was diverting all her attention to judging reality shows, the duo collaborated to make the brilliantly deceptive Om Shanti Om, the highest grossing film of 2007.

With a plot heavily inspired from Subhash Ghai’s Karz, but with the Hindi film industry of the ’70s as the backdrop, Om Shanti Om was as mainstream and glitzy as Bollywood could possibly get. At first pass, there were many reasons to dismiss the reincarnation-revenge drama as just another brainless masala entertainer. The film comprised a song featuring over 30 Bollywood actors, even more celebrity cameos, an item song that saw an eight-pack-sporting SRK grooving to “Dard E Disco”, the much-publicised debut of Deepika Padukone, and absolute over-the-top tomfoolery. But underneath the disguise of its frills, Om Shanti Om was also 2007’s most sneakily subversive mainstream film, an illustration of the adage, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”