Bollywood Mythmaking in Om Shanti Om
How Farah Khan's magnum opus explores stardom, the business of movies and parasocial relationships in a prescient gaze of meta genius
Om Shanti Om, very fittingly, begins with the eponymous song from Karz (1980) being shot by its director Subhash Ghai (erstwhile known for making cameos in his own films). We see Om Prakash Makhija — a fan with big dreams cheering for Rishi Kapoor as he dances. A junior artist with dreams of stardom, he has an epiphany — and suddenly it's Om in Rishi's shoes, dancing to ‘Om Shanti Om’ and belting out the lyrics as a youth icon. He is flanked (in a moment of meta-genius) by the film’s director Farah Khan in an uncredited appearance as they rib each other about both of them being nobodies, in the big-wig world of Bollywood. This sets the template for what's to follow — the audience is informed immediately that the line between reel and real is blurred in the world of this film.
Om Shanti Om, in essence, is built on contradictions. It’s a story about Bollywood's biggest self-made superstar essaying the role of a reincarnated star kid to fulfill his dreams. It's a story of an actress in a role of a lifetime that would prove extremely prescient of her own stardom to follow. It celebrates and reviles show business, calls out its corrupt institutions — and unites multiple generations of stars as they dance to a single once-in-a-lifetime tune. The thing about the film that makes it stand out so distinctly among a plethora of masala, massy films is how exceedingly clever it is. In building this mythology about Bollywood, its machinations and the waking dreams of artists, Farah Khan weaves a three hour showcase delectably filled with tributes to yesteryear maestros, heady camp, and frames that reference stories told and untold. The film straddles the past and the present, breaks the border between reality and fiction — and the consequent genre anarchy that blends comedy, drama, horror and romance is something pop culture still swears by, fifteen years on. Simply speaking, it's a massive fucking feast.
Myths are traditional stories passed down from generations, a ubiquitous record of our history and culture, while simultaneously asking us to confront questions about its authenticity and origin. This is true about Bollywood too — the lore and legend surrounding people and events — are they hearsay? Have they undergone historical revisionism, evolved into something farther away from the truth, or were they just a rumor to begin with? This article explores the myths pieced together in the film — how it is inextricably linked to the careers of its creators, the zeal with which it serenades Bollywood as the proverbial main character, how the exalted soundtrack functions as a key narrative device, and its engagement with the concepts of fandom as well as parasocial relationships in an extremely revelatory way.
I cannot write about Om Shanti Om without talking about my personal relationship with Bollywood, and how the memories of the film shaped my attachment to cinema in more than one way. The film released in 2007, a year I consider sacrosanct for Bollywood as a film industry — umpteen film releases that made their mark on popular culture and have immense recall value. For me, a then six year old, it marks my earliest burgeoning memories of consuming cinema — I remember my school taking my entire class of first graders to watch Taare Zameen Par in the theaters; the time my father took me to watch Chak De India! twice and my family rented a DVD of Welcome — to the time we bought a pirated CD of Jab We Met, which I watched so many times as a six year old that I would recite the entire film, with dialogues, to my mother, who would delight at my mimicry of Geet. My impromptu dance sessions in the rain to ‘Barso Re’ from Guru, to the time I watched Bhool Bhulaiyaa with my cousins shivering in terror back in my maternal grandmother's place in Amritsar, Punjab — the year is extremely formative to my identity as a cinema and pop culture aficionado. It is then fitting that Om Shanti Om is a film characterized by its passionate love for Bollywood as an entity — its history, the talent it has birthed, and the masses of fans who worship their screen idols.
"itni shiddat se maine tumhe paane ki koshish ki hai, ki har zarre ne mujhe tumse milaane ki saazish ki hai..”(1)
The story of Om Shanti Om begins with Farah Khan. Born in a family that worked in the industry, Khan started out as a choreographer when the veteran Saroj Khan walked out of Jo Jeeta Wahi Sikandar (1992) — thus starting the butterfly effect that would give us evergreen cinematic moments in songs like ‘Chhaiya Chhaiya’, ‘Ek Pal Ka Jeena’, ‘Ruk Jaa O Dil Deewane’ and ‘Sheela ki Jawaani’ to name a few. During her time as a choreographer for the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Bombay Dreams (2002), Khan was dismayed by the "clichéd and outdated version" of the Indian film industry it presented, and wanted something which was more authentic and larger-than-life at the same time — and she was the perfect person to do it, in more ways than one.
Khan became a household name in the country as her oft imitated & celebrated choreography became synonymous with the actors essaying them in the memory of the public. In the process, she also established pivotal relationships with various figures — since she at some point, worked with most of them as a choreographer. It is here, in her decade-long career as a choreographer before she made her debut as a director with Main Hoon Na (2004) — that the seeds of the epic showcase that is ‘Deewangi Deewangi’ were sown. Chief amongst them is the relationship that struck on the sets of Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1994) — an actor who, in the words of author Shrayana Bhattacharya in her book Desperately Seeking Shah Rukh, "—that [Shah Rukh] was india’s first post liberalization superstar, but he was liberalization. As India turned the corner into a new millennium, Shah Rukh’s face was plastered everywhere." The new hero had arrived on the block.
In Shahrukh's seventeen year long career on the silver screen before he made Om Shanti Om, he shaped our modern understanding of the dichotomy between star and actor. Ranveer Singh, in an interview with Film Companion stated, "[Shah Rukh] is a pioneer, he has made Indian entertainment what it is, such is his contribution. He made award shows, live shows, advertising, film promotions. He is the benchmark, the norm, he defines it." Shahrukh's charm as an extremely affable, charismatic 'movie star' who was raised in a middle class family with no connections to the industry and managed to build an empire for himself — made him different from his peers, whose ascent can be attributed, in some part, to nepotism. A self made man, his expression of love reigned supreme across generations while he conquered the box office, year after year, collecting awards and adoration alike.
Om Shanti Om feels like a decadent tribute to Shahrukh himself. He's the proverbial superstar Om Prakash yearns to be, a stark contrast to the likes of Om Kapoor — the legions of young 'nepo babies' who debuted in films because they'd famous surnames. His audience stretches from those gathered outside Kapoor's home (a real life parallel to the throngs who come everyday outside Khan’s home, Mannat) and those listening to Prakash give a speech holding a broken liquor bottle. It's extremely interesting how the film uses Shahrukh's celebrity as an asset — Farah knows we're in on the joke, it's visible when Om Kapoor is nominated for Best Actor multiple times for doing the repetitive romance movies — a misnomer associated with Khan's filmography in real life — here he is, with the same dialogue, the same signature step, replete with the tune of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai playing as interchangeable heroines come and swoon for him.
When Om Kapoor finally wins the Filmfare and begins delivering his speech — he's finally met with echoes of his past self, in another lifetime. We know that poor junior artist Om Prakash had to die and be born as a ‘star kid’ to achieve his dreams — a bleak and somber reality of the business that has no love for people who don't have godfathers or famous surnames. But the scene is not nihilistic, it is a beautiful irony. Here stands before you, one of the greatest showmen Indian cinema ever had. In that moment, delivering the "kehte hai, agar kisi cheez ko dil se chaaho, to poori kaaynat use tumse milaane ki koshish me lag jaati hai.."(2) stands not just Om Kapoor, or Om Prakash finally living his dream — it is as much Shahrukh Khan, the young Delhi boy who came from a middle class home, and broke every barometer of what success means in a competitive industry like that of entertainment.
This moment uniquely reminds me of Michelle Yeoh's multiverse characters in Everything Everywhere All at Once. The film is such a love letter to her decades worth of career — like this tweet here explains, her being envious of a life where she could’ve been a glamorous star is ironic. It's the same case with Michael Keaton in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) — an aging star who's haunted by the spectre of his superhero past, wondering if the success he achieved when he was young would be the peak of his life & all he'll be known for. Keaton gives an extraordinary performance, but it is heightened further because the audience knows of his past as Batman. We look at these movies as myth making — the actor is the lore, and their truths evolve — an alternate universe here, a different time period there. This furthers my belief that biopics are rarely the creative vehicle to honor an artist’s body of work, when you see aforementioned films starring characters so deeply imbued in their legacies, a testament to their careers as much as a profession of it.
Now, about the face that launched a thousand ships. The moment Deepika Padukone is first seen on celluloid is just sheer legend — as ‘Ajab Si’ plays and she walks the red carpet, it is Om as much as it is the cine-goers who were captivated by her in real life. Merely 20 years old when she was cast, Padukone had the envious, lavish debut upcoming actors can only dream of — and the rawness of her craft is so perfectly mirrored by Sandy’s attempts to replicate Shantipriya’s persona as the former fumbles trying to dress up as her, in her attempts to learn her yesteryear dialogues, as well as cultivate the aura she had. It is an actor following in the steps of who came before them, but it is also prophetic of Padukone's career trajectory and stardom — her highs and lows, the way she stormed our screens, box office, and the brickbats she got along the way. While Padukone’s portrayal of Shantipriya made her a household name, it was the role of Sandy, which she essays in the second half of the film that speaks volumes about her journey as an actor herself. In her own words,“I had never been to a film set, didn't know how to say dialogues and basics about body language. It gives me goosebumps thinking, without knowing whether I will deliver or not, but Farah and SRK trusted me. They literally hand held me through the entire process."
Was the film and her performance(s) emblematic of the future career to follow? I ponder upon this and ask Akanksha Akella, a 22 year old lawyer and long time fan of Padukone, to which she says, "In a way, yes, it was a role prescient to her superstardom. I don't think Farah, the audience or even Deepika herself were able to gauge her acting capabilities with Om Shanti Om, but everyone knew she had ‘star quality’ since Day One. It's also a key factor as to why Deepika, and others like Kareena or Katrina have such longevity career-wise, while newer actors fade away quickly from the screen these days." While Padukone was dubbed by voiceover artist Mona Ghosh Shetty, this star quality that Farah spotted and banked on held a gravitas that was pitch perfect for her as she essayed the role of Shantipriya, a female superstar in the 70s with the moniker of the 'Dreamy Girl' — a wink, wink reference to Hema Malini, the actual Dream Girl of that era. Akella tells me, "You look at legends like Rekha, Waheeda Rehman, Asha Parekh and Hema Malini praising Deepika, and the one thing that is commonly mentioned by all of them is how graceful Deepika is on screen. While some people might continue to debate her acting as Shantipriya, one thing that is unanimous is how she perfected the body language of the '70s-80s superstar'. It is visible in her wave, in her eyebrow lift, in her smile, in her confusion, the way she pulls out her hand for Om to shake, and multiple instances throughout the film."
“Hamne teen cameras lagaye hai, Ek Satyajit Ray angle, Ek Bimal Roy angle aur ek Guru Dutt angle ekdum shadows mein”
“Ek Manmohan Desai angle laga do, kaam aayega” (3)
In her research on narrative interpretation in modern day audiences, culture scholar Margaret Mackey talks about “the kind of border play around texts in which stepping in and out of the diegetic world is a prime activity.” This is extremely apparent in the fluidity of the film’s treatment of life and art. A brilliant scene underscored by postmodern art–life intersections is in the sequence during the song ‘Dastaan-e-Om Shanti Om’ when Sandy, as Shantipriya, is trying to scare Mukesh, who tries to follow her in vain. As the camera pans out, we see the real ghost of Shantipriya look at them — she is the audience of her own life. Shanti’s presence in the song chronicling her story blurs the border between time, characters and existence.
Every sequence in Om Shanti Om rankles with the sense of high octane drama — the melodramatic mother figurative of old-school nostalgia, who tells Om that she competed with Madhubala herself for the role of Anarkali in Mughal-E-Azam (1960), the hero's sidekick played by Shreyas Talpade with gentle perfection, and the characters flitting between locations that feel like sets even when they aren't. Even the site of Shanti’s eventual death is inspired from the burnt ruins of the Colaba landmark, Mukesh Mills, which is both a popular Bollywood shoot location, and infamous for being haunted. Shantipriya’s story itself reminds one of the mysterious demise of ‘90s actress Divya Bharti. In the book The Making of Om Shanti Om by Mushtaq Sheikh, a screenwriter of the film, Farah is quoted as saying, “What works in our favour is that as Indians we have a ready reference to context memory when it comes to Bollywood. We have a song for every mood, a line for every situation, and it's all from a movie. It's this intimacy, this nostalgia that is used to create a parallel history of Bollywood. History is a huge part of this movie, it's not just a blast from the past..the movie has also made history with the brethren of the film industry pitching in with zest.”
The film’s meta structure allows for intertextuality, consisting of references to films, real life events, as well as the participation of renowned Bollywood celebrities through various cameos. When Om is told that the only word he has in a movie is the word 'Bhaago' — he proceeds to shout it in a myriad of ways, to attract maximum screen attention — a scene that reminds me of the Satyajit Ray story Patol Babu (hello, CBSE kids). The scene is about the male hero saving Shanti's damsel in distress character from a fire — but when things go awry, it's Om who jumps into the fire and saves her — a nod to the on-set accident during the production of Mother India (1957), when Sunil Dutt saved Nargis in a similar fashion. When Shanti thanks Om for saving her life, Om tells her, "Dosti ka ek asool hai madam, no sorry, no thank you - ye kisi film ka dialogue hai"(4) — she laughs and asks him if he writes dialogues too; while in the background we see a young Sooraj Barjatya overhearing the exchange — it is implied he writes it down for his maiden film, Maine Pyaar Kiya (1989). This is an excellent example of how a lot of scenes in the film serve as foreshadowing and build on the myth of real life incidents that make Bollywood the starry-eyed business it is.
In her research paper on Intertextuality in Om Shanti Om, Sudha Shastri explains, “The first impression left on the viewer by such interaction is the thrill of recognition because no other Bollywood movie until now has borrowed so diversely or eclectically or with utter disdain of ontological borders." While it begins with a scene from Karz, Om Shanti Om is also hugely inspired by Bimal Roy's Madhumati (1958), with textual references to it peppered throughout the film. One of the most joyous parts about this film is the clear influence of Dilip Kumar's performance on Shah Rukh — his own tribute to an artist he was extremely close to, and considered the spiritual successor of, in public memory. Eram Agha writes about the similarities between these Muslim superstars, separated by generations — even Shah Rukh Khan’s mother, Fatima Lateef, believed her son would be the next Dilip Kumar.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that Om Shanti Om has a brilliant soundtrack. The music elevates the consciousness of the film and relays new information, crucial character subtexts, and is hugely responsible for recreating the glamour and vibe of the ‘70s. Vishal-Shekhar were at the helm, with the duo creating a hundred tunes, out of which Farah selected about four. Mushtaq Sheikh further writes in The Making of Om Shanti Om that the secret is that she looks at the song from two levels — the director’s perspective, and the layman’s perspective. Clearly, it works.
In ‘Dhoom Taana’, the first big ‘heroine’ song of Padukone's career, Farah Khan introduces her lavishly, in a status and splendor befitting the aura of a superstar. Intertwined with scenes from real movies from that era — Karle Pyaar Karle (1970), Tadap Ye Din Raat Ki (1966), Sab Janoon Re Tori Batiyaan (1977), Dhal Gaya Din (1970) — she transports us back into that universe, as we watch it from the lens of her One True Stan, Om Prakash. Om, sitting in that theatre, imagines himself being the hero romancing Shanti onscreen— a page from ‘Vo Ladki Hai Kahaan’ in Dil Chahta Hai (2001). This euphoria of parasocial romance is at immediate odds with ‘Jag Soona Soona Lage’, where after discovering Shanti and Mukesh's undisclosed marriage and her being pregnant, Om falls into unending despair — his sense of isolation and despondence emblematic of the storm and rain raging around him, as his unrequited love goes unanswered.
In ‘Dard-e-Disco’, Farah turns the table by having Shahrukh's Om Kapoor be the object of desire in a conventional item song. Javed Akhtar’s legendary lyrics need no introduction — ‘San Francisco’ and ‘Pichle Mahine ki Chhabis’ being rhymed with ‘Dard-e-Disco’ — the entire song is poking fun at the gibberish, nonsensical meaning of the item songs that grace popular Bollywood movies, as confirmed by himself. In the process, the actor is surrounded by women fawning over him as the camera eyes his body lasciviously. Like most item songs in Indian movies, Dard-e-Disco was the fixture of the film’s marketing campaign. Vimla, who was in sixth grade when the film released, echoes this, "I remember that the promotional cycle was very heavy on SRK's new look, the abs and a newcomer in the industry, Deepika Padukone." As someone who watched it during its original run, she tells me about the audience reaction, “Watching it in a theater was a unique experience because since I was young and hadn't watched a lot of classics the movie references, I missed a lot of crumbs but the general euphoria of Dhoom Taana is infectious. Deepika's entry got a huge response. And of course, Deewangi Deewangi got everyone hooting and hollering with every celebrity appearance. When people say that Bollywood doesn't make movies like it used to, they're more often than not, referring to Om Shanti Om.”
The Filmfare Award ceremony in Om Shanti Om is probably the most real those awards have ever been — further enhanced by the fact that Farah Khan actually shot the red carpet interview montage in the film at a real life Filmfare Awards show — she stood there with her own camera and asked actors to deliver dialogues that she dictated. I like how the second half of the film takes us closer to the establishment, the status quo of the industry that Om Prakash yearns to participate in. It's a joyous swirl of irony and parody -—when Amitabh Bachchan is asked about Om Kapoor, he replies “Who is he?”, taking a leaf from real life rumors of beef between the actors then. Similarly, OK’s female co-stars (and Sanjay Kapoor) repeat that they are not involved with each other, as Shabana Azmi says she has come to strike.
People often joke that ‘Deewangi Deewangi is the last time Bollywood came together (except, you know, Ambani weddings) — it's true, the song does an extremely potent job in the world building of the film. With artists starring as thinly-veiled versions of themselves, the lines between what's real and what's fictional is blurred again — Om Kapoor and Kajol do their signature Kuch Kuch Hota Hai greeting, he dances with Dharmendra and Rekha — legends who came before him, and his contemporaries like Salman Khan, Rani Mukherjee and Priety Zinta. It's a commemoration of generations of the industry as they come to herald Om Kapoor — but we, as the audience, see Shah Rukh as the one being celebrated.
All is not well though. The film never shies away from showing the dark underbelly of the industry, and even the evil 'cliches' it applies to characters like Mukesh has a lot of real life relevance to it. Om is told by Pappu that he won’t be able to become a star with a surname like Makhija — and how he needs to change it to something like Kapoor, Kumar or Khanna, a lesson drawn from real life figures who ruled celluloid in that era, but also emblematic of the industry’s casteism. Shanti is harassed by her fellow male co-star, and the junior artists discuss how it was Mukesh who gave her a break in the film business, when she was only sixteen. This feels prescient, but also points out how much of an open secret the rampant exploitation of young girls in show business is. Even in a post #MeToo world, where show business likes to pretend that abusers like Harvey Weinstein have been exposed, the sad reality is that multiple predators are welcomed back with open arms and provided multiple opportunities. This includes Farah’s own brother, Sajid Khan, who is being given a proper redemption storyline on the most popular reality show in the country. Mukesh dons a new personality and becomes Mike, finds new opportunities as a Hollywood honcho, and his actions go unpunished for three decades.
“Mai nahi believe karungi Om? Pachhas maale ki building se jab tum jump maarke pairon pe khade hote ho jaate ho, mai believe karti hu. Sau Gundon ko akele maarke heroine ko bachaate ho to bhi mai believe karti hu..Hawa mein udte ho, paani pe daurte ho, ye sab mai believe karti hu. Fir tumne kaise soch liya mai ye believe nahi karungi..” (5)
A despondent Om Kapoor, resigned to his fate, tells Sandy — "Om Shanti ki kahaani meri zindagi ki sachchai hai." He knows his story is too far-fetched to be true — but he also knows that to play Shanti, Sandy will have to understand, if not believe, his truth and the consequent pain first. When Sandy says those lines above — on how she's spent her life reliving the fantastical things Om has done on screen — and if she believes him when he jumps from a fifty floor building, or when he walks on water and beats up a hundred goons to save his heroine — why wouldn't she believe him now? I think this moment, more than anything, sums up what the film stands for me.
Parasocial relationship refers to a relationship that a person imagines having with another person whom they do not actually know. Much of the film is a mediation of the fact that we, as fans, do not know the inner lives of our favorite celebrities, but we still love them anyway. Modern fan culture has broadened its impact due to the rise of social media, cultivated public personas and internet created forums ranging from creating fanfiction to discussing how much our idol's stylist sucks. The semantics of Om Shanti Om, however, use the crutch of a fan-idol relationship to explore the familiar tropes of romance, justice, and legacy.
I asked Anushka Bidani, a fourth year student at Ashoka University currently working on her thesis on fandom culture, about her insights on this fan-artist dynamic. "It is not a very typical romantic relationship where they're both on an equal plane of reality — Om's perspective imagines Shanti as a sublime object foremost. His relationship with her (introduced to us in the scene where he rants to Shanti's hoarding by the bridge) is to keep her on a pedestal, almost akin to going to a temple and praying to God — he won't get any response but actualizes it as a safe space." In her research essay 'Discourses of Hindi film Fandom and the Confluence of the Popular, the Public, and the Political', Sreya Mitra writes, “In the context of popular Indian cinema, the star–fan relationship thus has been defined in terms of veneration and, consequently, hyperbolic excess—"excess, hyperbole and even obsession…Commitment and 'excessive' admiration are integral to [Indian] fandom."
The adoration and veneration Om has for Shanti is clear in the first moment of intimacy they share, in the song Ajab Si. When the song plays in the two instances in the film, the fan/artist relationship is reversed. In the first half of the film, Om Prakash yearns to attend the premiere of his idol, and in a stroke of luck, has a thread of his shirt stuck in her dress (a callback to ‘Yeh Ladka Hai Allah’ from Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham) — one of the most recognisable moments from the film. In the second instance, it's Sandy, a huge Om Kapoor fan, who wants to audition for the role of Shantipriya just so she can meet him. Both the sequences mirror each other — the intimacy of meeting your idol for the first time, the dumbstruck reaction, the ‘If I loved you any less, I would be able to talk about it more’. These respective parasocial relationships evolve into friendship, which then grows to a classic romance — but the devotion associated with fandom is visible in every action of our protagonists.
The song ‘Main Agar Kahoon' is parasocial fantasy at its finest — the showcase of a man who dreams of becoming a movie superstar, falling in love with the top heroine of the era, as they spend time together. It's undercut by scenes of them enacting the romance — the highlight reel includes Om and Shanti transformed into the couple in the snow globe, as he serenades her with lyrics like ‘tum huye meherbaan toh hai yeh daastaan / ab tumhara mera hai ek hai caravan / tum jahaan main vahaan’ (6). The song is extremely reminiscent of ‘City of Stars’ of La La Land (2016). As fans and snow machines are turned on to dazzle Shanti — moonlight intrudes at them, a film projector runs, and the entire world (the set) believes in Om’s love for her.
Writer and scholar Ziauddin Sardar profoundly states that the consumption of Hindi cinema is intrinsically linked to the popularity of its stars, with the latter functioning as the focal point of the cinematic experience. There was a palpable craze surrounding the release of the film, writer Raghav Choudhary reflects, “During [the release of] OSO, I first heard the phrase "tickets in black" because everything was sold out for the first week or two. That was the first time I saw the superstardom of Shah Rukh Khan, how people were paying 2x, 3x price to go watch the movie.” To mark the fifteenth anniversary of the film in November 2022, Khan Fan Club SRK Universe organized free screenings across several Indian cities. I talked to Shubhangi Singh, a final year student at JNU about her experience at one of those fan screenings: "I have some regrets in life and one of the bigger ones was choosing to watch Saawariya over Om Shanti Om when they first came out in theaters, until November 2022 when it got re-released. Watching it on the big screen was quite literally a dream which I never thought would come true. My love and appreciation for the movie grew tenfold." One can’t help but compare this mass euphoria to the release of the latest SRK-Deepika project, Pathaan, which marks their fourth collaboration and became the highest grossing Bollywood film, in just two weeks. This is following in the footsteps of Chennai Express (2013) and Happy New Year (2014), which set massive box office records of their own. Clearly, if the multiverse is true, Om and Shanti are meant to be, in every reality.
What separates Om from legions of fans is that he loves Shanti as a person, not just as a pretty face on celluloid, or a myth that is forgotten. In one of his impassioned speeches to her hoarding on a bridge, he tells her how he would love her even if she was not a superstar, but just a 'super' junior artist. When she asks him if he ever gets sad, he replies 'whenever I'm sad, I watch your movie.' Bidani further elaborates on her reading of the film's ideas about connecting fandom with the reincarnation aspect, "What I find really interesting about the second half of the film, is that there's relatively no evidence of who Shantipriya was, or her memory or legacy; but just because a single fan exists, Shantipriya also lives on. It seems a very pertinent idea in the film too, as long as a fan is alive, the artist's legacy can never truly die."
"Mai apni Shanti ko bacha nahi saka but usse insaaf zaroor dilaunga"(7)— Om's quest for justice for Shanti directs him to make a film with Mukesh, as he actively plans to gaslight him into accepting his culpability in her death. When the denouement of the film arrives, the stage is set for Mukesh to confess, until it is revealed that he knows about Sandy role-playing her. This is until the spirit of the real Shanti arrives at the scene, and recounts key details from the day of her murder nobody alive could possibly know. A scene-by-scene recreation of the time the set was burned follows, and Om finally confronts his fear of fire to save his love. "Isi Jhoomar ke neeche milegi Shanti Ki Laash", as the said Jhoomar falls down, killing Mukesh.
Aur aaj, is baat ka bhi yakeen ho gaya ki hamaari filmon ki tarah hamaari zindagi mein bhi, end mein, sab theek ho jaata hai..happys endings (8). As Sandy and Pappu arrive at the scene, Om is dumbstruck — and finally realizes the person in front of him was always Shanti. He waves at her, and she turns back to smile at him — the same way she had, thirty years ago. Shanti's apparition disappears into the stairs as the music winds down — exactly like when a play finishes and you hear the audience's applause — in death, she gives her final performance. “..Janmon ki, karmon ki, yeh kahaani isse — kehte hai Om Shanti Om.” (9)
This is a phenomenal essay! I really enjoyed how you charted out the connections between the movie and the actual journey of SRK through the industry, really cool!
“When she asks him if he ever gets sad, he replies 'whenever I'm sad, I watch your movie.'”
Me with SRK movies omg. Great piece!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!