Producer: Chandra Haasan &
Director : Kamal Haasan
*ing: Kamal Haasan, Naseerudin Shah, Shah Rukh Khan, Rani
Released on : February 18, 2000
Reviewed by: Anjali Abrol
A more serious
movie out of a string of either flops or jokes, Hey Ram!
will definitely stand out from the lot. For one, the movie is directed by Kamal Haasan,
and that speaks for itself. Two, the subject is controversial, dealing with the Partition,
Pakistan and India, Mahatma Gandhi, the whole lot, and hence, publicity. Third, this was
allowed to go forth despite its controversial undertones (as opposed to Water). Fourth,
the movie managed to pass by the censors despite some of the explicit content. Five, Kamal Haasan and Naseeruddin
Shah play key roles, and they are both quality actors. Six, Mahatma
Gandhi's great grandson, Tushar Gandhi,
plays a small role. And seven, Shahrukh Khan
plays a pivotal role, and that in itself is worth watching the movie for! Oh right, and Rani Mukherjee is in it as well.
The movie begins at present day with Saket Ram (Kamal Haasan), an
89-year-old South Indian Brahmin who is dying. The scene reverts back to the past as Saket
remembers the 1940's, when he and his good friend, Amjad Ali Khan (Shahrukh Khan) were
archeologists working together under their boss, Mortimer Wheeler, in Mohanjodaro (Indus
River Valley Civilization) in Karachi. Relations are pleasant between the Indians and the
English, and Saket and Amjad do not approve of the Partition and the creation of Pakistan.
Rani Mukherjee plays the role of Aparna Ram, Saket's simple Bengali wife.
She is living in Calcutta in the midst of riots and chaos over the issue of the formation
of Pakistan. Saket goes to Calcutta and is swept into the madness. In one instance, Saket
saves an innocent Punjabi girl from the hands of a Muslim gang. The Muslims are angered
and decide to take revenge; the group is headed by Aparna's tailor, Altaf, who break into
Saket's home. They brutally rape and maliciously slit Rani's throat, and the scene, so
vividly shot, leaves little for the imagination. Saket, unable to cope with such a tragic
loss, goes completely mad and seeks to kill every Muslim he can. He soon joins fanatical
Hindus and loses sense of himself, falling victim to the chaos and religious hatred around
him. He is also urged to marry again and agrees to it reluctantly.
Mahatma Gandhi (Naseeruddin Shah) is solely blamed for the division of
India and of the two religions. The Hindu fanatics, including Saket, are furious and plot
to murder Mahatma. Saket goes forth with the plan, until he runs into his good friend,
Kamal Haasan, Naseeruddin Shah, and Shahrukh Khan do justice to
their roles, though personally, I would have preferred some more scenes with Shahrukh.
(What can I say?) Shahrukh also sports a beard, which looks pretty good. Rani Mukherjee is
passable in her small role but could really use the makeup.
The story itself is so serious and the the movie in its entirety is very
intense. It is difficult not to get caught up in the movie. The sexually explicit scenes
were a little too much and it is surprising that the Censor Board did not cut cut and cut!
They could have been toned down a bit and not have taken away from the overall effect of
the movie. (CUT CUT CUT!) The technical aspect of the film are up-to-par, and though not
flawless, the film is well-made.
I suspect, though, that the way the story is portrayed is most likely to
stir up controversial sides, both in agreement but more likely in disagreement. I myself
have chosen not to comment since the issue is highly sensitive.
Overall, the film is excellent and worth watching in the theater, both for
visual/techinical effects and because it is definitely a high quality, intense film.