Om Dar-B-Dar is a 1988 Indian postmodernist film directed by Kamal Swaroop and starring Anita Kanwar, Aditya Lakhia and Gopi Desai in lead roles. The film, about the adventures of a school boy named Om along with his family, is set in Ajmer and Pushkar in Rajasthan, and employs nonlinear narrative and an absurdist storyline to satire mythology, arts, politics and philosophy. The film won the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Movie in 1989.
It was never commercially released in India, though it achieved success in International Film Festivals including Berlin where it premiered, and soon became a cult film. In 2013, National Film Development Corporation of India (NFDC) had planned an official national release of a digitally restored print of the film. The film finally released in Indian theaters after 26 years, on 17 January 2014.
Om-Dar-B-Dar is a portrait of life in Ajmer town, Rajasthan. The film tells the story of a young boy named Om in the period of his carefree adolescence and its harsh disillusions. The story starts as a comedy and ends as a thriller. Om has a rather strange family. His father, Babuji, a government employee, leaves his job so that he can dedicate himself to astrology; Om's older sister, Gayatri, is dating a good-for-nothing fellow. Om is involved in science, but is also attracted to magic and religion. In all it seems that his really outstanding skill is his ability to hold his breath for a long time.Anita Kanwar as Phoolkumari
Gopi Desai as Gayatri
Lalit Tiwari as Jagdish
Lakshminarayan Shastri as Om's Father
Aditya Lakhia as Om
Manish Gupta as Young Om
Peter Morris Messe
The film was made on a budget of Rs. 10 lakhs. It had its premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1988, and was played at the film festival circuit and even became a cult film. However it was never commercially released in India, only a video release. The film received renewed attention when it was screened at Experimenta, an experimental film festival in Mumbai in 2005. Thereafter, it went into a digital restoration project funded by the National Film Development Corporation of India (NFDC). Eventually, the digitally-restored version was released on 17 January 2014, by PVR Cinemas in metro cities.
The movie was described by its director Kamal Swaroop as a story of Lord Brahma, and it sprouted from the idea that in Hinduism, although Lord Brahma was considered the father of the entire universe, strangely no one ever worshiped him. Swaroop also said that the film's script was written based solely on dreams and images that he had and claimed he "cannot think in words."
The songs by Swaroop's assistant, Kuku, are sporadic and choppy and don't make any logical sense, and are used tongue-in-cheek as mocking the tradition of spontaneous songs and musical numbers in Bollywood cinema, many of which don't do anything to move the story forward but are instead used as an escapist "break" from the storyline.
Although the film was never released or seen in India during its initial rounds at the film festivals, Om-Dar-B-Dar has in the past 20 years gained a huge cult following and fame amongst film critics, scholars, industry insiders and cinephiles alike. One of the first serious articles about the film was written on the film blog The Seventh Art. The blog stated, "Swaroop’s film is an antithesis to whatever is recognized globally as Indian cinema – a reason good enough to make Om-Dar-Ba-Dar a must-see movie" and that the movie can be defined as many things, the most popular of them "the great Indian LSD trip." The film can also be looked at as a jab at mainstream Indian cinema, and many of the themes and images in the film are direct satires of conventions of Bollywood filmmaking.
Director Imtiaz Ali mentioned the vast amount of influence that the film had on aspiring independent directors in Indian cinema, stating that Om-Dar-Ba-Dar is "like old wine" and "antiquated because of the 25-year delay in its release".
Director Anurag Kashyap also mentioned on his film blog that in his directorial venture Dev.D, the song "Emotional Attyachar" was inspired in its music and staging from the song "Meri Jaan" in Om-Dar-Ba-Dar.