Newest Reviews
Circumstantial Pleasures
Tyger Tyger
Filmmaker's House, The
Man Standing Next, The
Rock, Paper and Scissors
Batman: The Long Halloween Part One
Salaam Bombay!
Boss Level
My Heart Can't Beat Unless You Tell It To
Edge of the World
Treasure City
Shiva Baby
Flowers of Shanghai
War and Peace
Merrily We Go to Hell
Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie's Dead Aunt)
Amusement Park, The
Hands of Orlac, The
Death has Blue Eyes
Kala Azar
After Love
Earwig and the Witch
Zebra Girl
Skull: The Mask
Bank Job
Newest Articles
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
  Om Dar-B-Dar Strange India
Year: 1988
Director: Kamal Swaroop
Stars: Gopi Desai, Manish Gupta, Anita Kanwar, Aditya Lakhia, Lakshminarayan Shastri, Lalit Tiwari
Genre: WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Om (Aditya Lakhia) is the son of an astrologer (Lakshminarayan Shastri) who is regularly consulted by the people of their Indian town, but has a liking for making ominous pronouncements about what the heavens are telling him. Om has a special talent, which makes him akin to a frog, which is an ability to hold his breath underwater for a long time, and there are manipulative folks who would wish to use this talent for their own ends. But he has needs like any young man, and after a young lady sits next to him in the cinema, he finds himself falling in love, just as his life grows ever weirder and more impenetrable as the inherent mysticism he is existing through that is part of the Indian landscape becomes inseparable from his experiences...

Or at least, that's what seems to be happening, but working out what exactly was going on in Om Dar-B-Dar was, to say the least, something of a challenge. Although it fast became a cult movie in the late nineteen-eighties, it was as much for its hallucinogenic qualities, if not more, than its ability to tell a coherent story. It instigator was Kamal Swaroop, a director who subsequently turned to documentaries for most of the rest of his career, and what he was conjuring up here came across as so personal to him and the time and place it was made that it was almost akin to eavesdropping on someone's private thoughts. But not thoughts about what to have for dinner or anything mundane, more a stream of consciousness triggered by either daydreams or something stronger.

Not that Swaroop was off his face when he made this, there was certainly an intelligence behind it that was constructing what we were watching in a manner suggesting the material had not gotten away from him and was turning out precisely the way he wanted it to. Really, it settled into what resembled a series of sketches that were gradually intercut with one another to pull together a montage of wild ideas, near-documentary footage of the town it was set, and more blatantly surreal bits of business that were given narration to indicate they were of a mystical, even cosmic, nature. But always, at nearly every point, there was the sense the film was questioning so much about Indian society and going farther to the point it was questioning the very nature of the universe: a piece with quite a lot on its planet-sized plate, then.

Although there were songs, and what you could loosely describe as musical numbers, this was not a Bollywood movie in a musical vein as you might have popularly anticipated from Indian cinema, yet neither was it a Satyajit Ray-style social document that discerned the profound in the everyday. It was its own thing, and while it featured the undeniable flavour of its origins, you could compare it to Alejandro Jodorowsky's The Holy Mountain or Souleymani Cissé's Yeelen, that sort of way out of the mainstream, far from the Western tradition work that regarded the globe like something unknowable yet understandable at the same time. Naturally, it was easy to get pretentious about Om Dar-B-Dar, and the fact remained almost everyone who saw it would have no idea of what they were seeing and shrug their shoulders at the concept of tadpole terrorists or shitting diamonds, never mind actually attempting to make sense of it all. But that feeling it did mean something, and it would all be clear if you contemplated it long enough as a shaman contemplated their navel, nagged away at you as you watched its dreamlike absurdities parade across the screen. That and trying to identify the noises liberally applied from a BBC sound effects record.

[Click here to watch on MUBI.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 408 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
Andrew Pragasam
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf


Last Updated: