Revisiting A Classic – Kamal Haasan’s Hey Ram

This is one of those rare attempts in Indian cinema history were filmmakers treated cinema as an art and a way to communicate with the future audience. That is the beauty of this movie, Hey Ram written and directed by Kamal Haasan… is like the paintings of Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci.

Movie: Hey Ram, Language: Tamil / Hindi, Script and Directed by Kamal Haasan.

As many of the viewers who watched it in theatre, myself too was confused and didn’t find it interesting. My age was 17 at the time of its release. Then I watched it again after few years – I felt the movie as a good one, watched it again 10 years after its actual release – the movie just mesmerised me and now I rate it as one of the greatest movie I’ve ever seen. ‘Hey Ram’ was way ahead of its time.

Hay Ram (2)

“I am willing to take all this communal hatred in the form a bullet, If I am promised that along with that they will also bury this communal hatred and live together as one community”
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

The film is all about the hazardous mix of religion and politics which is happening now again after so many years story presented in the movie, 60 years later we have the same dangerous situation.

The Plot

The movie begins in present day Chennai, ie late 90s, 89 year old Saket Ram is in his last moment. Communal Violence around and the vehicle he is been trying to shift to hospital is blocked. Camera pans in Saket Ram, his memory.. around 60 years back.. 1940’s when Saket Ram and Amjad working in Mohenjadaro as archeologists. What Saket Ram finds in his city to meet his wife was disaster, the city was dump to clashes between the local Hindus and Muslims activists. The violence spread as fast as virus and his wife, Aparna gets brutally raped and murdered by Muslim Extremists.

Saket Ram at his most disturbed stage kills as many as possible. Later his friend Amjad Khan will be become a victim of Hindu activists. There he meets Ram Abhyankar. He teaches and makes him believe that Mahatma Gandhi is the reason for what is happening around. He comes back to Tamil Nadu, and he gets married to Mythili. But he was not able to forget the past, unable to control his feeling he goes back to Calcutta. Nathuram Godse collaborates with Ram Abhyankar to plot the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. After returning to his family, he devises a plan for the assassination. Upon reaching Gandhi, he has a moment of realization, but unfortunately, Nathuram Godse proceeds to assassinate Mahatma Gandhi at that very moment.

‘Hey Ram’ is said to be Mahatma Gandhi’s last words.

Story of violence is presented in a very violent way and this is how it should be presented. I have to say this – a movie like ‘Hey Ram’ has never seen in any language industry in India. Kamal Hassan stands high as a director. Watching this movie more closely, I have to rate him as the best director in India above of Adoor Gopalakrishnan or Satyajit Ray or Maniratnam for this movie alone, for his penchant for a very brave movie.

Hay Ram (1)

Some scenes, character, images are very memorable and deserve appreciation such as

1. Image of blind girl
2. A lizard drinking up blood
3. Saket Ram and Mythili falling from a very high space
4. Images with lotus, swastika symbol
5. Saket Ram standing against a powerful wind, holding a gun
6. Saket Ram feeling his wife on his laps as a big gun.
7. Song sequences of ‘Hey Ram raam…’
8. Song sequences of ‘Nee partha…’

Noticing further more reveals few more imaginary images which is hard to feel as a coincident such as

1. Usage of the name ‘Ram’, Saket Ram, Ram Abhyankar, Nathu Ram Godse.
2. Usage of the date ‘December 6’.
3. It is shown a dummy of evil is burned in a festival, as the background when Ram Abhyankar tries to teach Saket Ram that Mahatma Gandhi is the reason for all the communal issues happened at that time.
4. Present day is shown in Black and White, and flash back in Color.
5. And the finale sequences inside Saket Ram’s room, the background score ‘Hey Ram..’ and a person opening the window pieces (designed ‘Mahatma Gandhi’ on it), to let the light inside.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
‘Most mahatmas don’t admit they are one. Do you think I am a Mahatma
Saketh Ram
‘You will deny it if I say you are, So I shall deny you another denial Sir’

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About the Author

PS Arjun
Cinephile. Learning the art of filmmaking. Writer. Filmmaker.

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