If musical themes are woven into narratives skillfully, they can conjure complex ideas and emotions with admirable ease. In Farah Khan’s reincarnation drama Om Shanti Om (2007), an entire song functions as a powerful guiding motif, connecting the titular protagonist’s previous birth with his present.
Om (Shah Rukh Khan), a junior artist in 1970s Bollywood, is so besotted with superstar Shantipriya (Deepika Padukone) that he holds one-sided conversations with a hoarding featuring her face. When he finally sees Shanti at the premiere of her movie, she surrounded by throngs of fans. The song Aankhon Mein Teri, which plays in the background while Om stares mutely at Shanti, reflects his stunned delight at finally having caught a glimpse at the woman of his dreams. Vishal Dadlani’s lyrics capture Om’s burgeoning awe at his proximity to the popular actress whom thousands adore from a distance.
An act of heroism later brings Om close to Shanti, but they are both killed in producer Mukesh Mehra’s attempt to murder the actress. Om is reincarnated in the present day as Om Kapoor or OK, an entitled star kid who becomes a superstar himself. When OK recalls the events of his past, he hatches an implausible revenge plot which requires him to find a Shanti lookalike.
Aankhon Mein Teri makes a reappearance when OK meets his fan Sandhya, who resembles Shanti in the kind of inexplicable and bewildering coincidence that can only be pulled off by Indian films. Sandhya’s recognisable face is accompanied by Vishal-Shekhar’s familiar melody, perfectly linking OK’s spellbound surprise at seeing Sandhya with Om’s speechless wonder when he sees Shanti for the first time.
Aankhon Mein Teri is so closely associated with Om’s love for Shanti that its reappearance lends credibility to OK’s hasty slide into affection for Sandhya. The two depictions reflect the changing power dynamics between the lead pair. It features Om sighing and gushing over Shanti while she smiles at him with vague amusement, but also depicts OK cracking an indulgent smile when a besotted Sandhya faints in his arms. Om’s stride is hesitant when he is dragged along by Shanti’s errant dupatta, but OK walks towards Sandhya with a confident swagger.
Since Om Shanti Om consistently pokes fun at the many quirks peculiar to Hindi Cinema, Aankhon Mein Teri is replete with cliché Bollywood-isms, including slow motion shots of hair being tossed by highly improbable gusts of wind and dupattas getting ensnared in serendipitous locations. The recognisable visuals are in perfect harmony with the familiar metaphors employed in its lyrics, but KK’s ardent rendition makes Aankhon Mein Teri sonically spectacular.