CHAPTER 1: PREFACE
Kamal Haasan’s body of works can be broadly divided into two categories: Hey Ram and non Hey Ram. Such is the effort, brilliance and technique put into the work. An epic film does not necessarily mean high production values and a period setting. Any film whose intentions and strides are of mammoth proportions qualifies to suit the genre. Hey Ram, by all means, not only qualifies but even has the power to top the genre.
Movies that last a lifetime are the ones that are rooted in the culture of their country of origin, but deal with themes that are contemporary and universal at the same time. By culture, I not only mean traditions and practices of the country but also its inescapable history, politics, its figures, its events and the social impact of those. A prime example would be Florian Donnersmarck’s Das Leben Der Anderen (2006) (aka The Lives of Others), a film that firmly had a foot in political chaos of the post war Germany, its political ideologies and restrictions imposed due to the same, but spoke about the universal concept of art and humanity. Not over a handful of movies have come out from our country that handles these issues with solemnity. One such film, Kamal Haasan’s Hey Ram is arguably the best Indian film of all time.
In the following work, I would try to dissect the film and present an analysis of the film, though in no way, exhaustive. The film is fraught with symbols, metaphors and allegories that become clear only on multiple viewings. I have tried to cover them wherever applicable. I have tried to give the key images while trying to explain those scenes and also the conversation transcript wherever necessary. English translation of the same has been provided for universal access. Please feel free to agree/disagree at comments section of the relevant posts. I have provided a downloadable version of the same analysis at the end of the series of posts.
It would be of interest to note that the film was being made when another Kamal film had already kicked off, Marudhanayagam. So, naturally Kamal was into a thorough research on the freedom movement and its obscured characters. Hey Ram presents one such, perhaps fictional, character that was, though not instrumental in changing the course of history, an inlet to the mind of the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi.
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