Om Dar-b-dar (1988)
Director: Kamal Swaroop; Writer: Kamal Swaroop, Kuku; Producer: Kamal Swaroop; Cinematographer: Ashwani Kaul, Milind Ranade; Editor: Priya Krishnaswamy, Ravi Gupta; Cast: Anita Kanwar, Gopi Desai, Lalit Tiwari, Aditya Lakhia, Bhairav Chandra Sharma, Lakshminarayan Shastri, Ramesh Mathur, Manish Gupta, Peter Morris
Duration: 01:41:31; Aspect Ratio: 1.584:1; Hue: 71.090; Saturation: 0.102; Lightness: 0.179; Volume: 0.144; Cuts per Minute: 7.782; Words per Minute: 60.589
One of the most unusual independent films of
the 80s, Kamal Swaroop’s debut briefly
suggested the possibility of an avant-garde. Set
in a mythical small town in Rajasthan,
the Jhumri Talaiya whence stem the largest
number of requests for film music singles
addressed All India Radio’s commercial
channel, the film tells of a boy, Om, growing
into adolescence (Manish Gupta plays the
young Om, Aditya Lakhia the older boy). The
son of a fortune teller (Shastri) and the younger
brother of Gayatri (Desai), Om’s major problem
is that, riddled with guilt about his voyeurism,
he believes himself to be responsible for
everything that happens around him. Gayatri is
courted by Jagdish (Tiwari) as she dreams of a
future that would allow her to ride a bicycle or
to sit in the men’s section of a movie theatre.
Many of Om’s fantasies about sexuality and
death are graphically realised in remarkable
song sequences: a science teacher dissecting a
frog expands into the Felliniesque Rana
Tigrina number, or the moonwalk on a terrace
on the night that Neil Armstrong landed on the
moon. This double-edged satire acquires a
further dimension with the entry of
Phoolkumari (Kanwar), whose sexuality sends
out beguiling and horrifying messages evoking,
for Jagdish, the world of cheap Hindi
novelettes. Then war is declared as the Diwali
firecrackers become real explosions, the
father’s (Shastri) diamonds hoarded for blackmarket
purposes are lost on the sethji’s
property where they are swallowed by frogs. In
the end, Om atones by enacting the traditional
legend of Brahma’s descent to earth, the origin
of the Pushkar fair which today is a major
tourist attraction in Rajasthan. Om learns the art
of breathing underwater and turns into a tourist
exhibit. The jerky, fast-moving and witty film
proceeds by way of symbolic imagery
including tadpoles, skeletons and fantasies
derived from Hindi movies, advertising,
television and the popular Hindi novel. The
music and soundtracks are remarkably
inventive (e.g. the transformation of Come
September into the number A-a-a mohabbat
humsafar ho jaye).
For a personal quirky introduction to Om Dar B dar see
Surabhi Sharma, [The return of the gleaming frog
Anurag Kashyap drew inspiration from this song called Meri Jaan for the use of brass bands and the look of his song Emotional Attyachar in Dev D
Outside a traveling cinema, women deciding to watch or not watch Jai Santoshi Ma
In an interview, Kamal Swaroop responded to the question, "How can man land on half a moon?" by saying that the moon represents a boat in desert to the Muslims, and he also wanted to set a match making story to the event. "Lunatics of the world unite", he says.
Kamal talks about how he prepared science programs for ISRO from Russian books. Those books used to explain scientific phenomena through fairy tales and parables. They, he described, were a mix and match of playfulness, imagination and magic tricks, like his film is.
In an interview, Kamal Swaroop said that he was not given the Censor certificate because the censors believed Om took out a Bible from his Tabeez to read it. However, Kamal said that it wasn't a Bible but an English Dictionary.
Who is Atlas? According to Kamal Swaroop in an interview, Atlas is a seat on a cycle, Om's childhood friend, and finally, binary man
Hoplobatrachus tigerinus, the Indus Valley bullfrog or Indian bullfrog, popular name Asian bullfrog, Asean bullfrog or Asia bullfrog, is a large species of frog found in Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nepal. Source: Wikipedia
Does Om leave school? Kamal responds by saying it is his illusion, he smells death in class.
Who is Phool Kumari? According to Kamal, she is a frog with a nose ring, defenses against rape. She is also the sister Om hates the most. She comes to meet Shankar to dissipate.
Phool Kumari, Swaroop explains, is a ghost. She appears when Om has myopia. He says, the nose ring she has can turn her into a frog if one tries to rape her. She is a vagabond, lier, street walker and an actress. She could also be the wife of Babuji. It was actually a comment on Anita Kanwar’s role of Lajoji’s in HUM LOG over the TV. She was type casted.
The story that Phool tells Gayatri is, according to Kamal, that of unfulfilled inquiries, and Om's illusion of his big nose.
According to Kamal Swaroop, the goggles are a Lake of Sorrows.
This scene, according to Kamal Swaroop, stands for elasticity, and an ad film for VIP underwear
Kamal says, in a crucial scene in Hindi novelist Manohar Shyam Joshi’s ‘Kashap’, the male protagonist’s naada (thread of pajama) gets stuck in front of a girl she is wooing. In the film, similar things happen when Jagdish tries to make love to Gaytri.
Kamal says, the bob cut also is a middle class sense of progress which Gayatri conforms to.
-Deep focus magazine
This sequence, according to Kamal Swaroop, is recycling waste
Kamal Swaroop on the frogs bearing jewels in their stomachs, "The story goes something like this. The jewels fall from Om’s shoes in the frogland. Maybe some are eaten by frogs. One is found during Biology practicals. Perhaps one or two are found on the day of the massacre. But when there is only faith, each frog bears a diamond, and as long as the frogs are not opened, the legend remains. That is the jeweler’s belief in his own waste."
The appearance of Nehruji, according to Kamal Swaroop, is push button technology, as a substitute for magic. Making water. Also, in the Pushkar myth, the three lakes emerged when Brahma threw a blue lotus from the heavens
Pushkar, according to Kamal Swaroop, is "The holy water-works. Temples of modern India. The power of coconut plants, an answer to Coco-Cola. If you dip in there at a certain time of the year, when the image meets the shadow, when Pushkar in the skies descends to its shadow on earth, you go to heaven. In the myth, there wasn’t a shadow. Only the real Pushkar was here. People dipped in it and went to heaven. It caused a population explosion in the heavens, so Pushkar was taken back to the skies. Now it’s a little bit of a compromise with the prime promise. Breath of Brahma."
And the fair-skinned photographer in black-and-white sequence?
"Heavens descending - the myth."
Om's sneeze is bewitching promises, according to Kamal Swaroop
According to Kamal Swaroop, "When Phul said 'Ram Rajya' she meant some product for the family planning campaign – maybe rainbow contraceptives. "
The relationship between Ram Rajya, and a fish, according to Kamal Swaroop, "In Ram Rajya a big fish doesn’t eat a small fish. But then it’s a dangerous affair. Fishes over populate. Water turns to waste. Without water, Pushkar goes bankrupt. It smells. The keys to Pushkar, I thought, was the fish. That’s one way to decode Ram Rajya."
The dream in Frogland, according to Kamal Swaroop, "Om has become a hero of the non-cooperation movement. Atlas has returned without conquering the Guinness Book of World Records. Suddenly, Om sees his father. The jeweler is counting his frogs. Each frog means one diamond. How do you really know if the frogs have diamonds without opening them? Once in a while, the jeweler loses faith, but then Babuji’s spirit appears, with bones and scattered diamonds. How do you know that they are not fake? By testing? But by the time the Jeweler’s head has so changed in the process of the alchemy, that the position of this accumulated waste has turned a killer.
And Om realizes It was an illusion. Everybody was dead long ago."
Gaytri changes her mind. Jagadish also doesn’t die and goes to heaven. The appearance of the scooter, as Swaroop explains, is a transformation from cycle. She is only one who survives, in his words, in ‘right proportions’ but being a ruthless woman. Phool kumari’s survival: phool kumari survives remaining a girl by herself. A little girl is running down the steps because initially she had gone up.
Kamal says, The taste of KCN is ‘gobor’ (cowdung) because death by KCN by fastest and death by gobor is slowest.