The true sign of a successful director is not his or her first film, but the second.
So many directors have let me down after a brilliant first film. I remember being bowled over by the small-budget, unsung 16 December, but Mani Shankar did not live up to its promise subsequently with duds like Rudraksh and Tango Charlie.
I continue to be spellbound by Sarfarosh but John Mathew Mathan's second film, Shikhar, is a huge disappointment.
How can I miss out Karan Johar from this list? After a tear-inducing Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, his next films -- Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham and Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna -- showed that numerology is a poor substitute for a good script and narration.
Oh, the rota of such filmmakers is endless, and little did I think that Farah Khan would join this infamous list.
For her debut film, Main Hoon Naa, revelled in Bollywood formula, and was a huge entertainer. All formula films call for suspension of disbelief; and a successful director is one who doesn't insult your intelligence while inducing you to suspend your disbelief for a couple of hours.
It was a talent Farah Khan showed in abundance in Main Hoon Na. You know Shah Rukh Khan cannot chase a Scorpio on a cycle-rickshaw, or that he can beat up so many baddies single-handedly. Still you are so carried away by the narration that you chuckle when he does the impossible.
Since she comes from a formula background, doesn't take herself or her work too seriously, doesn't intellectualise but simply entertains in her films, I was sure OSO will be well worth the wait.
Three days later, after reading the rave reviews and recalling the fidgeting I was doing -- a first in itself for an SRK film -- in the second half, I've been left wondering if the critics and I saw the same film. Could it be that the prints in other parts of the city were different?
Even the first half, which shines in comparison to the hackneyed second, was a huge disappointment in the absence of any chemistry between the leading lady and the man. When you think this is not just another hero but the king of romance himself who can melt a rock with his passion and ardour, and since this one-sided romance is at the core of the film, it is essential the two crackle the screen together. Here, the film falls flat.
And this gets worse in the second half, where SRK chastely kisses Deepika Padukone on the forehead. Gulp. It's all right for Khan to joke on a TV show that while she was half his age she was also twice his height, making kissing her difficult.
Spoofing is second nature to Khan, and you find ample evidence of it in everything he does, be it as emcee at Filmfare awards or in a media interaction. All his films -- barring serious ones like Chak De!, Swades and Paheli -- have his brand of self-deprecating humour coursing through them.
Naturally, the first film he produced had to be a spoof. Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani rocked, it spoofed the media -- which I believe was the reason it bombed at the box office. Now SRK returns to the genre with a spoof on a profession he knows inside out, and everyone's happy.
Er, everyone? If OSO remained a '70s spoof (and there's plenty left to spoof that era in another five 3-hour films) throughout, it would have been a great entertainer. But SRK is not a comedian, nor is this film a comedy, so the shift in gears had to happen. If PBDHH's weak link was the sudden shift from spoof to somber, in OSO's case the weak link is the transfer from bling to bhoot.
Which is Farah Khan's biggest failure as director. It's hard enough to accept a film about reincarnation, I thought it went out of fashion with Karan Arjun, and even as you sceptically watch Om Kapoor having his past-life moments, complete with landing up on his 'previous' mother's doorstep one night, the director socks you with the bhoot angle.
Yes, it is a formula Hindi film, yes, I am expected to suspend my disbelief for its duration, but the narration shows none of the skill that Farah Khan showed in her first film; she failed to make me suspend my disbelief.
It's unlikely she will read this criticism amidst the mountain of congratulatory reviews she is no doubt flooded with, but here's a suggestion for her next film if it is on the same lines: release it during Easter, at least that's a time when one expects a Resurrection.
Read more about Saisuresh Sivaswamy right here