Published On : Fri, May 8th, 2015

“I love telling stories of strong, positive women” says National award winning Director, Omung Kumar


Remember that movie that came over a decade ago called ‘Black’?

It had ace stars Amitabh Bachan and Rani Mukherjee, it had a touching story, it was directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and it won numerous film awards?

Well, what I and many others remember from that movie and have taken away as a permanent memory are the striking  sets – the play of light, the
way  the movie hit you visually . This aspect came to the fore and was a third leading ‘Actor’ of the movie. One you looked at mutely, but it spoke volumes to you without uttering a word. And you realized – so that is what Art Direction is all about!

Today, I know who that Director was and am not surprised in the least. It had to be Omung Kumar who with his very first outing as full Director, co writer and visualizer wins the President’s award for a touching movie like ‘May Kom’.

Apart from doing Black, as Art Director he also did ‘Sawaariya’, Yuvraaj and let’s Dance among some others. From this foundation, he straight away took a leap to Direction – no halt in between as Asst. Director or anything! He had been fascinated by the example of this diminutive woman from India’s far flung North East, who was not known to many Indians but had won international Boxing championships five times in a row.

“I have to tell her story to the world, and I will do it my way” Omung decided and went and met Mary, asked her for her life story rights and told her that very soon the world was going to know about her and love her. And then he got pretty, petite and frail looking P.C. (Priyanka Chopra) a former Miss World to deglamorize herself and become Mary. He did it so well that my first question when I spoke to him today had to be –

“With a name like Omung are you from North East too?”
He laughed at that and said humorously,
“I am Umang (desire) and very much a Punjabi from Delhi. But I was always known as OK, which became literally my name, so Umang became Omang, with an O!”

He went on to remind me of the ‘OK’ who hosted Z Tv’s popular game show “just a minute” for almost a decade and it became insanely popular. Everyone wanted to play the ‘minute’ game at their parties, without knowing the origin of it, even I remember holding one such at my party.

“That is the real me” says OK, “crazy, funny, mad”

Then how come a fun loving guy like you has been doing serious movies like Black, Sawariya and even Mary Koum? I ask.

“Oh, I am crazy about my trade! I have done all genres that came my way. If I got a chance to do Horror, I shall do that too!” replies Omung.

His next movie, which has just been declared is going to be a biopic about Sarabjit. The man who spent almost his entire life in Pakistan jails; when his death sentence was commuted to life and his sister was trying his best to get him a reprieve and bring him home, was beaten up so badly he became brain dead. He passed away the next day, and it was his lifeless body that finally came home to Punjab. When a post mortem was done, it was discovered that all his vital organs were missing and his skull was split in two.

So after Mary Koum, the story of a woman who triumphed over all odds, why Sarabjit – a tragedy of a man who died a violent death in enemy jails?

“Wait till you see the film. It will not be sad and tragic at all. Basically, it will be more the story of his sister Dalbir Kaur.” Says OK.
Though the film is Sarabjit’s story, it will be told through the eyes of his sister, Dalbir Kaur, who  fought tirelessly to get him back. Even after he was convicted of terrorism and spying by the Pakistani court and sentenced to death in 1991,  she did not give up hope. She started a campaign for his release and thanks to her efforts and that of the Indian government, Sarabjit’s execution was indefinitely delayed.

“Will PC play the role of Dalbir becoming your leading lady again, or as reports suggest, it could be another National award winner Kangana Ranaut ?” I ask.

“Wait and watch!” says Omung mysteriously. “It will definitely be one of the leading A stars of Mumbai – could be Priyanka, yes, could be Kangana as you suggest, or it could be Deepika too.”

According to him Kangana is a terrific, spontaneous actor – ” just watch promos of Tanu weds Manu – 2″. He agrees that while Kangana is more effervescent, Priyanka is toned down and understated and Deepika is “an altogether terrific actress.  She is the perfect Director’s actor – you can mould her just as you want”.

So does that answer give you the reply to who Omung’s
Dalbir will be?
It is too early to speculate, right now  Zeishan, the Producer who has the rights of the movie has just signed on Omung, who may co produce the film.

It is going to be a start to finish project. As Zeishan, who has rights to the story from Sarabjit’s family and his sister says “The film will go on floors in the first week of October with a start-to-finish 60-day schedule. It will be shot in and around Punjab.We want to send it to Cannes and release it by the end of May 2016.”