Saturday, March 01, 2008

It's never too late...

It's been several days since I've been wanting to update my blog. But I just didn't have anything that I could put into words. So I am doing the next best thing - I dug up some forgotten pieces of writing from the past and will update the blog with them. These writings are a bit strange, because they were written by a younger me, me minus important milestones like marriage, living abroad. Some of them were written even before I read my first Harry Potter, before I discovered the fascinating Khaled Houssaini through "The Kite Runner". When I read them today, they sound terribly dated . But it's never to late share a blast from the past, is it?

Hey Ram - A Review (Written on 20/04/2000)

Raghupati Raghava Rajaram, Patita Pavan Sitaram" are the starting verses of the title song of the latest venture by Kamal Haasan. "Hey Ram" also happen to be the last two words spoken by the Father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, before his death. And if you are the kind who cannot sit in one place for more than 2 hours, then, Hey Ram!! This movie is definitely not for you!!! But if movies like "1947 Earth", "Bombay" or books like "Lajja" and "Train to Pakistan" get your adrenaline pumping , then this definitely is your cup of tea.

So here’s another story of a protagonist against the backdrop of partition and the ensuing communal holocaust. Saket Ram (played by Kamal Haasan) is a Tamilian archeologist in Calcutta and Aparna (Rani Mukherji) is his Bengali wife. Amjad Ali Khan (Shakrukh Khan) is his good friend who believes in a secular India. With communal riots in the background, Saket Ram's life comes to an abrupt stop when Aparna gets brutally raped and murdered by a gang of Muslims. As a repartee he kills the offenders, and others who come in his path of vengeance. But that does not drive away the haunting grief, and the guilt of having murdered another human being. Disgusted and depressed he returns to Madras where his folks promptly get him married to a girl of their choice.

Enter Mythili (played by Vasundhara), a coy, pretty, girl, whose lively exuberance and sensuality, succeed in entrapping Saket, but only for a while. A year after the tragedy, he revisits Calcutta, only to be tortured by the cries of his late wife and hallucinations of the people he had killed. Saket Ram realizes his calling is elsewhere and in true ascetic style takes "Sanyaas" from worldly pleasures. His mission in life remains to kill Gandhi (Naseeruddin Shah) whom he believes to be the worst offender and holds him responsible of all crimes taking place in the name of religion.

But as fate would have it, he again meets his friend Amjad Khan who, despite all the hatred around, still believes that religious harmony is possible. History says Nathuram Godse assassinated Gandhi. What happened in the interim, did Saket Ram have a change of heart? Did Amjad Khan help him see the truth that he was searching for so long? Did Gandhi, through the sheer strength of his persona, influence Saket to give up the fight and embrace non-violence? For all the answers, do watch "Hey Ram".
Even Though Rani Mukherji appears just for a few minutes in the film, one remembers her long after the film has ended as the pretty Aparna, clad in crisp, white, Bengal Cotton Sarees, sans the make up, quoting Bengali poetry! New comer Vasundhara doesn’t have much to do except look pretty and innocent and she looks the part. Shahrukh Khan has a sartorial role, and gives a fine performance. But an actor of his caliber could have been given much more footage to the advantage of the film. Naseeruddin Shah looks uncannily identical to Gandhi and even manages to talk and gesticulate exactly like him. But the spirit of the film lies in Kamal Haasan's character. While all the other characters keep flitting in and out of the story, Kamal's is the main role, and his performance deserves applause. Technically the film is brilliant and brings out the best of the 1940s era, including the costumes and settings. Music by Maestro Illayaraja is soothing and situational. In short, a film worth seeing and not to be missed.

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