OMG 2 Highlights Need To Take Inspiration From Ancient Indian Knowledge Systems

Sahana Singh

May 26, 2024, 04:53 PM | Updated 04:53 PM IST

A scene from the movie.
A scene from the movie.
  • OMG 2 might well be a turning point for Hindi cinema.
  • Never did I think I would get to see a movie scene straight out of my mind’s visualisation!

    Two people are arguing. A tilak-wearing Hindu with tradition written all over his face and a modern woman with modernity written all over her face.

    The traditional Hindu father Kanti Sharan Mudgal played by Pankaj Tripathi is arguing for including knowledge from Kamashastra in modern education while the modern woman — a lawyer played by the beautiful Yami Gautam — is shouting that it is indecent to include sex-education in schools and to discuss topics like masturbation.

    Pankaj Tripathi  and Yami Gautam.
    Pankaj Tripathi and Yami Gautam.

    It all started with a young boy being expelled from school because he began to masturbate in the bathroom and consume Viagra-like substances thinking that it would lead to an increase in the size of his penis, an idea that was planted in his mind by his hateful friends who then began filming him secretly in order to circulate his video and defame him.

    The boy descends into a spiral of depression, attempts suicide, and it falls upon his father, a traditionalist and staunch Shiv bhakt to wake up to the truth of our so-called modern education system which was afflicted with Victorian values and a society that was mired in taboos and restrictions far removed from the civilisation.

    OMG 2 released on Netflix some days ago was a pleasant surprise! It was a treat to watch the Naga Sadhus in their gay abandon and the historic city of Ujjain with its Mahakaaleshwar Temple housing the lord of time.

    I watched in delighted disbelief when Kanti the father, while fighting a legal case with school authorities brought out facts that I had highlighted in my book “Revisiting the Educational Heritage of India”!

    In ancient India, Kamashastra was a part of the curriculum of young urban men. Let me quote from my book to illustrate the point:

    The Panchatantra says:

    “Listening to the words of the king, one minister said ‘O king! It takes 12 years of hard work to master the knowledge of grammar. After that, one must study the Dharmashastras, the Arthashastra of Chanakya and the Kamashastra of Vatsyayana. In this manner, one must read the texts covering the subjects of Dharma, Artha and Kama, reflect on them and only then the intellect would get developed.”

    With the above words, the minister reveals the holistic nature of Indic thinking. Can we imagine an educational system today which includes a course on the art of fulfilling one’s sexual desires in an aesthetic manner; a course which would enable students to develop their personalities, become winsome lovers apart from being well-versed in political sciences, economics, moral values and various other subjects? The minister implies that even if studies in science and spirituality could be ignored by a worldly person, one could not ignore moral values, financial and economic intelligence as well as sexuality.

    I have always said that when Hindus wake up to their civilisational legacy, they will simply blow away the cobwebs of ignorance afflicting the minds of people all over the world and show them how life is to be celebrated not just lived.

    There were so many memorable moments in OMG 2 — Kanti sitting at his laptop with books strewn around him as he tries to figure out Dharmashastras and then smiling to himself each time some truth revealed itself; Kanti taking off his sandals before he enters the court because it was a ‘Nyay ka mandir” and flouting other colonial-era rules while the judge watches with consternation; Kanti’s back-and-forth with a prostitute on the witness box regarding how men treated her that leads to the conclusion that if men were well-versed with Kamashastra, they would treat lovemaking as an art to be enjoyed by both partners and not violate women.

    The film faced many objections before it got a theatrical release in August and had to undergo several cuts. From what I can gather, the main objection was to the manner in which Akshay Kumar enacts the role of Bhagwan Shiva.

    Apparently, the objections led to edits that portrayed the actor as a messenger of Shiva rather than Shiva himself. This is strange because in Hindu art, there is no restriction on painting divine entities or personifying them in plays or movies. Why else do we see sundry people playing Ram, Lakshman, Sita and Hanuman in local Ramlilas?

    I don’t know if this is the result of faulty editing but in the version I saw on Netflix, Akshay is sent by Shiva to Earth to help Kanti’s family, which is a bit confusing because the messenger talks and behaves like Shiva himself even as he dresses in hippie-like clothes and grins all the time.

    Pankaj Tripathi.
    Pankaj Tripathi.

    Meanwhile, Kanti’s family lurches from crisis to crisis, and Kanti prays fervently to his beloved Shiva for help. Little does he know that the crazy non-conformist he keeps bumping into from time to time on the streets with a Nandi following him and who gives him coded messages about what to do next is none other than Shiva himself (or his messenger who acts like him). The final court scene which attracts hundreds of onlookers shows the power of well-made arguments which can help to convince even a sceptical judge.

    And now for some serious flaws in the movie. Even though the main message about banishing guilt associated with sexual arousal is correct, it only gives half the message from the perspective of Sanatana Dharma. The movie does not talk about teaching self-control which was an intrinsic part of the Brahmacharya training that students got in ancient India.

    Instead, it appreciates the Western world for imparting sex education in schools. The message should not merely be “Yeah it is alright to pleasure yourself but choose a good place to do it".

    One of the main casualties suffered by the destruction of the indigenous education system of India is Brahmacharya, an institution which once prepared students for life and produced graduates of fine character.

    The ancient gurus of India gave a lot of thought to taming the sexually charged mind. They knew that merely passing moral strictures without a proper strategy would not solve the problem. Gurus went beyond lecturing to students about the benefits of self-control.

    They taught specific techniques to control the mind which included breathing, adopting the right postures, physical exercises, meditation, creating mind pictures and steering the mind towards a higher consciousness.

    Hatha yoga asanas such as Siddhasana, Sirshasana, Sarvangasana and kriyas such as Nauli Kriya were taught by gurus to help brahmacharis control their sexual impulses and reach a state of wholesome balance. This is not to say that every Brahmachari succeeded in controlling his desires, but it is noteworthy that such an elaborate system existed to help students.

    It is a pity that OMG 2 stopped with just making a point about the need for sex education as a part of school curriculum. It had our attention and could have said much more.

    Knowing about anatomy, sex, good touch and bad touch is just the first step in an educational journey that must culminate in self-control and self-awareness.

    But it also gives me immense joy that Mumbai filmmakers have begun to look at storylines related to Indian knowledge systems and that too with pride. When the same Akshay Kumar acted in Toilet -Ek Prem Katha, Brahmins in the movie were shown as backward, and ritualistic people who resist modernity like toilets.

    There was nothing in that movie about the eternal principles of Shaucha that come from Indian knowledge systems. And in Pad Man, we heard not even a passing mention of the scientific menstrual practices from our civilisation that ensured the health of women, which we are ignoring today.

    That is why OMG 2 might well be a turning point for Hindi cinema.

    Pankaj Tripathi comes across as the quintessential Brahmin who learns and then teaches. He exemplifies the magic that unfolds when a person becomes civilisationally rooted in the Indian/Hindu/Sanatana Dharma way of life and its deep reserves of universal knowledge.

    I don’t mind if he gets typecast and plays more roles like this. Mahadev knows how long I have waited for a character like Kanti Sharan Mudgal.

    Sahana Singh is an engineer, author, editor and commentator who specializes in water/sanitation issues and Indic history. Her articles have been published in Reader’s Digest, Washington Post, Straits Times, Discovery Channel Asia and other publications. Ms Singh is an avid traveler who likes to connect the dots across societies, civilizations and disciplines.

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